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Spinal Cord Injury

SKW offers experienced spinal cord injury attorney services. Throughout Seattle/Tacoma/Bellevue and beyond, our lawyers have seen countless spinal cord injuries as the result of trauma from car/truck/motorcycle/bicycle crashes, falls, diving accidents, medical malpractice, construction accidents and various other causes. With one tragic event, a client's life changes forever in these cases. Skilled spinal cord injury lawyer's services are critical to obtain justice/full compensation for a lifetime of care and missed/lost wages.

Spinal cord injuries cause myelopathy or damage to white matter or myelinated fiber tracts that carry signals to and from the brain. They also damage gray matter in the central part of the spine, causing segmental losses of interneurons and motorneurons.

The exact effects of spinal cord injuries varies according to the type and level of injury, and can be organized into two types:

  • Complete Injuries. A person would be classified as having a complete spinal cord injury when there is no motor or sensory function preserved in the sacral segments, S4-S5. Any function below the neurological level is lost.
  • Incomplete injuries. A person with an incomplete injury retains some sensation or movement below the level of the injury. If a person is able to contract the anal sphincter voluntarily or is able to feel a peri-anal pinprick or touch, both of which test the lowest spinal segment, the injury is said to be incomplete.

In addition to the loss of sensation and motor function below the point of injury, spinal cord injuries are replete with a host of other complications, including:

  • Bowel and bladder function. Because bowel and bladder function is controlled by the sacral region of the spine, it is common to experience dysfunction of the bowel and bladder, including susceptibility to infections of the bladder and incontinence.
  • Sexual function. Sexual function is also associated with the sacral region, and is often affected.
  • Breathing control. A loss of breathing capabilities requiring ventilators or phrenic nerve pacing are attributable to injuries of the C-1 and C-2.
  • Regulatory function. The inability to regulate heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, and therefore body temperature.
  • Spasticity caused by increased reflexes and stiffness of the limbs
  • Neuropathic pain, which is caused by damage or dysfunction of the nervous system
  • Autonomic dysreflexia, which is a reaction of the autonomic nervous system to overstimulation
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Gallbladder and renal stones
  • Osteoperosis and bone degeneration
  • Superior Mesenteric Artery Syndrome

Traumatic spinal cord injury is classified into five types by the American Spinal Injury Association and the International Spinal Cord Injury Classification System:

  • A indicates a "complete" spinal cord injury where no motor or sensory function is preserved in the lower, sacral segments S4-5.
  • B indicates an incomplete spinal cord injury where sensory, but not motor function, is preserved below the neurological legel and includes the sacral segments S4-5. This is typically a transient phase.
  • C indicates an incomplete spinal cord injury where motor function is preserved below the neurological level and more than half of key muscles below the neurological level have a muscle grade of less than 3.
  • D indicates an incomplete spinal cord injury where motor function is preserved below the neurological level and at least half of the key muscles below the neurological level have a muscle grade of 3 or more.

Location of the Injury

Cervical Injuries: Cervical, also known as neck injuries, often result in full or partial tetraplegia (quadriplegia). Depending on the location of the injury, a person suffering from a cervical injury may retain some level of function, or may be completely paralyzed.

Thoracic Injuries: Injuries at the chest or below often result in paraplegia, in which case the hands, arms, head, and breathing are usually not affected.

Lumbar and Sacral Injuries: Injuries to this lower region of the spine result in decreased control of the legs and hips, sexual functioning, urinary system, and anus.

The attorneys at SKW have wide ranging experience with spinal cord injuries, and understand the complex medical and legal issues that frequently accompany these cases. Our knowledge and reputation in litigating spinal cord injury claims will help you through the long and difficult process of medical and legal recovery.

Helpful Links

Ride the Ducks victim seeks justice

On September 24, 2015, a Ride the Duck modified amphibious military vehicle crossed the centerline of the SR 99 Aurora Bridge and into a tour bus. The passenger compartment of the bus was penetrated.  5 people in the bus died and approximately 64 people were injured. Phuong Dihn, an 18 year old international student from… Read More

Anderson v. Arnot

A widely adored retired Montessori teacher was involved in what seemed like a “minor” fender bender. After over 24 months of intermittent treatment, MRIs revealed why her pain and disability was worsening. Needing payment for ongoing medical care, she finally opted to pursue the defendant driver, who had crashed into her car. In the end, SKW attorneys obtained a… Read More

Gendler v. State of Washington

(August 2010) $8,000,000 settlement for a defective bridge where a gap in the bridge deck was too wide, allowing a bicycle tire to wedge in the gap, throwing the rider to the ground and paralyzing him. You may have heard an interview on NPR, read a blog post, or read a story in The Seattle… Read More

Fulton v. XYZ Corp.

(August 2006) $2,200,000 settlement for a roofer who fell from a construction site roof 35 feet rendering him a paraplegic.  Suit was against general contractor and second tier contractor for failure to maintain a safe workplace.  Substantial comparative negligence issues.

Molitor v. Heaverlo

(May 2001) $1,660,000 (policy limits) settlement plus additional contingent payments for a 23-year-old T-4 paraplegic injured in a vehicle rollover.

Homewood v. Aaby, et al.

(1995) $2,550,000 settlement for paralysis of a young woman from an auto collision plus an additional undisclosed amount from Toyota for a seat belt design failure.

Ethel Adams v. Farmers Insurance Co.

This car accident injury case is just one of many that demonstrates the need to have an excellent attorney represent an injured party when dealing with an insurance company. Not only did Ethel Adams have to deal with life threatening injuries, she had to negotiate with a double-talking insurance company. Ethel Adams was happily delivering… Read More

Lan Remme v. City of Seattle and State of Washington

After years of work and dedication, SKW’s team of bicycle accident attorneys secured a significant settlement for Lan Remme. Lan brought suit against the City of Seattle and the State of Washington for their failure to maintain the Montlake Bridge sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition. One sidewalk panel had been allowed to sink two… Read More

Pattison v. City of Chelan

If I can ease one life the aching, Or cool one pain, Or help one fainting robin Unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain. ~ Emily Dickinson Michael-Ryan (“MR”) Pattison entered his freshman year at WSU focused on making the most out of college in every way – he joined a fraternity, he… Read More

Schneider v. Major Car Manufacturer

Following her typical evening routine, Marissa Schneider left home for work, driving her 1991 vehicle southbound on road in Snohomish County. At about 7 pm, a van was driving northbound on the same road. The driver of that van was looking for a specific address, intending to turn left. That driver changed lanes into the… Read More

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