As one of the largest cities in the nation, Chicago has no shortage of adventures to be had and sights to see. Unfortunately, the journey to Chi-Town experiences often begins on busy, congested roadways where an accident can occur or to high-rise or historical buildings where individuals can fall and become injured.
One of the most difficult areas of the body to sustain an injury is the spine. Also known as the backbone, your spine not only houses the spinal cord—which is vital to the body’s ability to function—but it also provides the central support necessary to sit, stand, walk, twist, or bend. Causing damage to this area of the body can result in many problems, including chronic pain, loss of range of motion, loss of stability in the spine, or even paralysis.
If you suffered a spine injury due to someone else’s negligence, you may seek compensation for the financial and psychological costs of your injury. A Chicago spine lawyer from Zayed Law Offices can help you understand this process and the types of services a lawyer can provide to assist you with your claim. Contact Zayed Law Offices today to get started.
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Common Causes of Spine Injuries in Chicago
The two most common causes of spine injuries are motor vehicle accidents and falls. More than 21,000 motor vehicle accidents resulting in injury occur in Chicago each year. Illinois safety experts attribute many crashes to three dangerous driving practices: distracted driving, drunk driving, and speeding.
Chicago has dozens of landmarks, including several historical buildings. Additionally, the city is home to around 1,400 high rises. While the presence of old and tall buildings is not an unsafe feature in and of itself, these places often are more likely to contain hazards that could cause someone to fall and suffer a spine injury as a result.
Some additional cases we handle at Zayed Law Offices involving localized paralysis, paraplegia and quadriplegia as a result of:
Types of Spine Injuries Chicago Accidents Cause
The spine has three natural curves that form an S-shape and serve as shock absorbers to protect it from injury.
There are several parts of the spine, including:
- Thirty-three small stacked vertebrae form the spinal cord.
- Facet joints, which are covered in cartilage that makes them slippery and allows the vertebrae to slide against each other, providing flexibility to the body that enables it to twist and turn.
- The intervertebral discs between the vertebrae.
- The spinal cord and 31 pairs of nerves that branch out from the spinal canal and carry messages from the brain to the body’s muscles.
- Soft tissues, including ligaments that hold the spine in position.
Here is a look at the three main injuries that can occur to the spine.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord is a long bundle of nerves that extends from the base of the skull to the waist, along with the brain, which makes up the body’s central nervous system. The cord’s role in this system is to relay messages from the brain to the rest of the body. Despite the importance of the spinal cord, it has only a very limited ability to heal from injury. This means that the damage incurred to this part of the body will likely result in permanent disabilities that can impair the sufferer’s ability to earn an income, which is considered a catastrophic injury.
The permanent damage caused by a spinal cord injury generally presents as a loss of function and sensation below the injury site, which is known as paralysis. As noted by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, a spinal cord injury appears differently depending on where on the spine the damage occurred. Many individuals suffer motor function, sensory function, and slowing of the internal organs due to the injury. As a general rule, the higher up on the spine the damage occurs, the more sensation, function, and damage will occur.
Spinal cord injuries are often defined as “complete,” meaning there is a complete loss of function and sensation below the injury site, or “incomplete,” which means some of the messages of the brain can travel through the cord, meaning some sensation and function remains.
The small bones of the spine are known as vertebrae. Several types of injuries can occur to the vertebrae, such as:
- A compression fracture, which results when part of the spinal column is forced forward and downward, such as in a car accident when the force of the collision causes the person’s head and upper body to snap forward.
- A burst fracture, which is among the most serious vertebral injuries, is caused when the bone is shattered by the accident. An example of the type of accident that could result in this type of injury is a fall in which the sufferer lands on their head and neck, crushing the vertebrae in the upper spine.
- Subluxation, which often occurs when the muscles and ligaments in the spine are injured and can no longer stabilize the spine. Like a burst fracture, subluxation can damage the spinal cord.
- Dislocation, which happens when ligaments are badly torn or stretched from an injury and can no longer hold the spine in place, resulting in an improper alignment of the vertebrae, such as the bones “locking” over each other.
The intervertebral spinal discs are soft, rubbery pads that cushion the vertebrae. Each disc is circular, and about an inch in diameter by a quarter-inch thick. The discs consist of a fibrous outer membrane and a jelly-like core. There is very little room for the discs to move when in proper alignment. As a person ages, the blood supply to the discs stops, and the inner material begins to harden, making it more prone to injury.
If stressed by a violent jolt or twisting, such as a motor vehicle accident or a fall could cause, the disc’s inner material can swell and spill out of the outer covering. The leakage of the disc’s inner material can result in pressure on the spinal cord, which can cause a loss of sensation and function below the site of the injury.
A Spine Injury Can Alter Your Entire Life
A spinal cord injury can result in paralysis that can impair your ability to live independently or earn an income. However, although they do not generally cause paralysis, other types of injuries to the spine can also cause chronic pain, instability of the body, and loss of range of motion. Spinal cord injuries feature a cascade of related complications, including the inability to feel temperature, cough to remove secretions from the lung, and more.
Injuries to this part of the body can result in a lifetime of expenses, impair an individual’s ability to work or attend school, participate in enjoyable activities such as hiking or dancing, and result in family members needing to care for the sufferer. More severe injuries can reduce the sufferer’s life expectancy. For example, the leading cause of death among individuals with a spinal cord injury is pneumonia, which is generally a result of the loss of functional control in the chest and diaphragm.
Seeking Compensation for Your Chicago Spine Injury
If you incurred a spine injury in Chicago, Illinois allows you two years after the accident to seek compensation for your injury. However, most claims do not start with filing a lawsuit but rather by sending a demand package to the at-fault party’s insurance provider.
The demand package details the accident, provides documentation of the expenses you have incurred due to the injury, and requests payment on the claim’s value. The insurance provider can either accept the claim as submitted and process it for payment, deny the claim and provide the claimant with a reason for denial, or offer a settlement, which generally involves offering an amount of compensation that is less than the value of the claim in exchange for an out-of-court resolution.
Your attorney can negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurer to get them to increase their offer. However, if the insurer wishes to offer a reasonable settlement, the claim can be filed in civil court as a personal injury lawsuit. The two-year statute of limitations requires plaintiffs to file the lawsuit in court by that time but does not require the claim’s complete resolution.
To have a successful outcome to a Chicago spine injury claim, you must be able to prove that someone else was liable (legally responsible) for the accident that caused your injury.
To do this, you must show:
- The at-fault party had a duty to take reasonable actions to avoid harming others.
- The at-fault party breached the duty they took illegal, careless, or reckless actions.
- As a result of the breach, an accident injured you.
The Type of Compensation You Can Seek After a Spine Injury in Chicago
Illinois allows personal injury claimants to seek the recovery of both economic and non-economic damages. This means that you can pursue compensation for both the expenses and effects of your injury.
Some of the common expenses appearing on spine injury claims in Chicago include:
- Medical expenses, such as hospitalization, ambulance transport, surgery, prescription medication, the services of your physician, physical therapy and rehabilitation, and the provision of assistive devices such as a wheelchair.
- Wage loss due to being too injured to work.
- Loss of future earning capacity if your injury results in permanent disabilities that affect your ability to earn an income.
- Property damage you incurred in the accident, such as damage to your vehicle in a car accident claim.
- Physical pain and suffering and emotional distress.
Do You Need an Attorney for a Spine Injury Claim?
Seeking compensation on your own is an ill-conceived decision. Without a doubt, you will miss deadlines, get lost in paperwork you do not understand, and leave money on the table. An experienced attorney will play an essential role in the success of your claim because they can help guide you through the intricacies of the legal process.
Spine injuries are not always easy to prove, and insurance companies like to blame these injuries on pre-existing conditions to avoid their insured’s liability. Having an experienced, knowledgeable, and compassionate attorney assist you with your claim can be crucial, as cases like these often require advanced medical and legal knowledge.
Fortunately, regardless of your financial status, you can obtain guidance from a personal injury attorney through a free case evaluation. Thanks to the contingent fee billing method that allows you to withhold payment for your attorney’s services until your claim’s successful resolution, you can benefit from the help of a lawyer immediately. Contact Zayed Law Offices to get started.
Chicago Spine Injury? Zayed Law Offices Can Help
For more than a decade, the experienced spine injury lawyers of Zayed Law Offices have been assisting those injured in accidents to recover the maximum amount of compensation available for their claim. Let our attorneys learn more about your case, explore your legal options with you, walk you through our services. We can help establish the value of your claim, determine liability, lead settlement negotiations, and gather evidence on your behalf. We are here to ensure you get the best outcome possible.
For your free case evaluation, contact us online or by calling (312) 726-1616.