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Spinal Cord Injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident: What you need to know

On Behalf of | Dec 2, 2021 | Car Accidents |

Injuries from a traumatic motor vehicle accident (MVA) can range from minor to life-threatening. One of the more vulnerable parts of the body is also one of the most essential– the spine.

A spinal cord injury (SCI) is a serious category of injury that can permanently change someone’s entire life. Whether the injury results in complete or partial paralysis, SCIs require years of medical treatment and patients often suffer physically, emotionally, and financially. 

If you have suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, Britton Law may be able to help.


The spine functions as the body’s central support structure. It has the unique role of connecting many parts of the musculoskeletal system that allows us to stand, walk and move freely. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that run from the skull down the center of the back. Covered by protective tissues and vertebrae, the spinal cord is responsible for carrying signals from the body to the brain and vice versa. The signals passed through the spinal cord allow us to move, sense, and control our bodies. 

Spinal cord injuries are a serious result of automobile accidents that can change the victim’s life forever. There are an estimated 12,000 new SCI cases each year in the United States, and motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) are the leading cause. 44 out of 100 SCIs are the result of a crash, surpassing the ratios of any other cause. 

An automobile collision can result in a sudden blow to the spinal cord or the surrounding tissues. This severe trauma can cause vertebrae to break or the sensitive tissues to become crushed or dislocated. While the spine is designed to absorb certain levels of force and flexibility, it cannot safely absorb the sudden force of a car accident.


Complete SCI

A complete injury is the most severe and least likely to improve. Someone who has suffered serious damage to the spinal cord will have no function below the level of the injury. This means the body can no longer send messages past the injury and a victim will not feel sensations or have the ability to move limbs. 

Incomplete SCI

An incomplete SCI is not as likely to be permanent, but the effects can still be life-altering. These injuries are subclassified by the area which is affected by the injury. Specifically, whether the trauma impacted the front, center, rear, or side of the spine. The location of the incomplete injury will determine what a patient may suffer from and how likely a full or partial recovery would be.

Symptoms and Treatment

The scope and location of an injury make it difficult to create a definitive list of symptoms of an SCI, but some of the most common things to look out for include:

  • Loss of sensation in parts of the body
  • Loss of movement
  • Back or neck pain
  • Weakness and instability in any part of the body

Only a doctor can properly assess your injuries after an accident. SCIs can develop day or even weeks after the collision, and for that reason, it’s imperative for crash victims to get immediate medical attention and report any symptoms. After an initial visit to the hospital, a patient will likely need months or years of rehabilitation. This could include multiple surgeries and frequent trips to the doctor.


Recovering from a spinal injury is undoubtedly a long and expensive process. However, there are several avenues of monetary damages a victim can pursue to aid in the healing process. These include:

  • Lost wages (past and future)
  • Medical bills
  • Future medical care
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages

Not all of these categories will apply to each injury case, and some cases have even more extensive damages. For example, the wrongful death of a crash victim could result in damages for the surviving family. To pursue as many forms of compensation as possible, a crash victim will need a dedicated advocate in court. An experienced personal injury attorney can properly assess your case and discuss your options as they apply to your situation.

Representation You Can Trust

For over 25 years, Britton Law has served the Fayetteville area and beyond in personal injury law. Britton Law’s lead personal injury attorneys, Rebecca Britton and T. Shawn Howard, have years of experience handling complex automobile collision cases and pursuing millions in damages for victims. 

Our firm offers free consultations for personal injury victims and accepts cases on a contingency basis. This means you do not pay attorneys’ fees unless we reach a settlement on your behalf.