The violent impact of a car collision can lead to injuries to the spinal cord, causing partial or total loss of use of all four limbs and the torso. Car accident victims who experience quadriplegia will require lengthy rehabilitation and physical therapy and ongoing medical care for the rest of their lives. The family will need all the financial resources available to help the individual adapt to a new life.
If your loved one suffered catastrophic injuries in a car accident caused by someone else’s carelessness or negligence, you have the right to seek compensation from the driver who caused the accident. Our caring attorneys at Sam & Ash Injury Law can prepare a comprehensive estimate of the lifetime needs of the person who has been paralyzed and the costs of adapting to a new life.
The Las Vegas car accident lawyers at Sam & Ash Injury Law can help you pursue full compensation to live your life as fully as possible. The attorneys at Sam & Ash Injury Law have recovered more than $400 million in compensation for our clients in Nevada and California. We are ready to assist you.
Contact our Las Vegas office today for a free initial consultation.
What Is Quadriplegia?
Quadriplegia – also known as tetraplegia — refers to an injury that results in full or partial paralysis below the neck. This paralysis affects all four limbs as well as many organ functions, including breathing, digestion, and bowel and bladder control.
Most quadriplegia injuries are caused by physical trauma to the spinal cord, typically to vertebrae at the base of the neck or in the upper back. If these vertebrae are badly damaged and the spinal cord is severed, then the brain is unable to send nerve signals to any part of the body below the site of the injury.
Paraplegia is an injury that results in the loss of function in the lower extremities. The patient still has control of their arms as well as most core bodily functions.
Types of Quadriplegia Injuries
Based on the severity of the paralysis, quadriplegia can be classified as either:
- Partial/incomplete – Someone with incomplete quadriplegia has weakness in the arms and legs, but they are still able to use their limbs in a limited capacity. This condition is also referred to as quadriparesis.
- Complete – Someone with complete quadriplegia has lost all muscle and sensory control in their arms and legs.
A quadriplegia injury can also be classified as either temporary, in which case the patient is expected to eventually regain control of the affected limbs, or permanent.
There are two different ways in which quadriplegia can affect muscle tone and strength:
- Spastic quadriplegia – Spastic quadriplegia causes the muscles in the arms and legs to jerk or spasm, especially when the muscles are stretched. Muscle tone is good, but the individual cannot control their limbs and may have an exaggerated gait.
- Flaccid quadriplegia – Flaccid quadriplegia causes the muscles in the arms and legs to atrophy, leading to decreased muscle tone.
Can You Get Quadriplegia From a Car Accident?
Motor-vehicle accidents are the most common cause of spinal cord injuries causing quadriplegia. The force from a traffic collision can cause extreme trauma to the vertebrae in the neck or at the base of the skull.
According to a study from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, auto accidents account for 32.2 percent of spinal cord injuries nationwide, while motorcycle accidents account for 6.2 percent.
Other Common Causes of Quadriplegia Injuries
Falls also cause a significant portion of spinal cord injuries causing paralysis. They account for 22.9 percent of spinal cord injuries.
Other causes of injuries involving paralysis include:
- Sports injuries – Full-contact sports like football and hockey can lead to a quadriplegia injury if a player sustains a hard blow to the head or the upper spine. This can happen even when a player is wearing proper protective gear.
- Disease – Certain neurological illnesses can lead to severe nerve damage that can cause quadriplegia. Diseases that can cause quadriplegia include multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease).
- Gunshot wounds – A gunshot wound can badly damage the spine, leading to quadriplegia if the wound does not prove fatal.
- Falling objects – A blow to the head caused by a falling object can result in quadriplegia. This is a particular risk for people who work in the construction and industrial fields.
What Are the Symptoms of Quadriplegia?
The most common symptoms of a quadriplegia injury include:
- Numbness or loss of feeling throughout the body, particularly in the arms and legs
- Loss of bladder and bowel functions due to a lack of muscle control
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty sitting upright
These symptoms tend to appear immediately after an accident. In some cases, the damage isn’t readily apparent and may develop over a period of days or weeks.
What Are the Costs of Quadriplegia Injuries
The lifetime costs of living with a spinal cord injury can run into millions of dollars.
The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center estimates that a person who has high tetraplegia as a result of damage to the C1 through C4 vertebrae will have $1.15 million in medical expenses the first year after the injury and about $200,000 a year in health care and living expenses in subsequent years. A person who sustains this type of paralyzing injury at age 25 can expect lifetime costs of $5.1 million.
An individual who is diagnosed with low tetraplegia caused by injury to the C5 – C8 vertebrae will have $830,000 in expenses the first year and about $122,000 a year in health care and living expenses in subsequent years. A 25-year-old with low tetraplegia can expect lifetime health care and living expenses of $3.7 million
As you can see, if you or your loved one has sustained a serious injury leading to paralysis, you will need to explore all the financial options available to you. If a paralyzing injury was caused by someone else’s negligence or misconduct leading to a car crash, the person who sustained the injury may have a right to hold the at-fault driver or another party financially accountable.
When Are Quadriplegia Injuries Eligible for Lawsuit Claims?
You might be entitled to compensation if you suffered quadriplegia injuries as the result of someone else’s negligence. Someone is considered negligent if they failed to take reasonable steps to avoid causing an accident and, in so doing, caused you to be injured.
Demonstrating that the other driver was negligent can be challenging. An experienced Las Vegas car accident lawyer can help do so using evidence such as:
- Police accident reports
- Photos and video from the accident scene
- Eyewitness accounts
- Medical records
- Testimony from expert witnesses
- Forensic accident investigations
- Surveillance photos or video
In most cases, an accident resulting in a quadriplegia injury is the fault of a negligent driver breaking the rules of the road. However, there are cases in which a party other than one of the drivers bears some or all of the fault for a crash.
As another example, you could potentially hold a trucking company liable if a truck driver in their employ caused an accident that led to your injuries. A knowledgeable Las Vegas car accident attorney can examine your case to determine all the parties who are potentially liable and demand that they be held accountable for your losses.
Compensation for a Quadriplegic Accident
Suffering an injury that results in quadriplegia can turn your life upside down. You have the right to pursue compensation for all the ways the injury has affected you. A car accident attorney can document all these losses in the form of:
- Economic damages – Economic damages compensate you for the quantifiable costs of your injury. These costs include those associated with medical expenses, future medical care and physical therapy, transportation to medical appointments, home renovations, lost wages, and lost future income.
- Non-economic damages – Non-economic damages compensate you for losses that are harder to calculate in dollar and cents. If you have complete quadriplegia, you will be unable to do many activities that you used to enjoy prior to the accident. This can lead to changes in your quality of life and severe emotional distress. You may seek compensation for losses such as physical pain, emotional anguish, diminished quality of life, and psychological injuries like post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
In special circumstances, you may also be entitled to punitive damages to punish an at-fault party for particularly egregious behavior or intentional misconduct that caused your quadriplegia.
Contact An Injury Attorney in Las Vegas Now
A quadriplegia injury after a car accident is life-changing. Many people who suffer these injuries go on to lead fulfilling lives. At Sam & Ash Injury Law, we want to help you recover the money you need to make your life as comfortable and fulfilling as possible. If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with quadriplegia after a car accident in Nevada, contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced, compassionate Las Vegas car accident quadriplegia injury attorney.