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There are very few injuries that are as debilitating as a spinal cord injury (SCI). Such an injury impacts your ability to lead a normal life and has a negative effect on the body physically, and often the emotional health as well. The pain of a spinal cord injury is often intense, and the cost of treatment can be astronomical.

Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries

A spinal cord injury is usually caused by a traumatic occurrence or blow to the spine. According to the National SCI Statistical Center, the most common causes of SCI are:

  • motor vehicle accidents – 42.1%
  • falls – 26.7%
  • acts of violence, such as gunshot wounds – 15.1%
  • recreational sports activities – 7.6%
  • medical malpractice
  • workplace accidents
  • stab wounds
  • diving board accidents
  • extreme turning or twisting of the trunk

Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries can vary widely in their intensity and level of damage. In essence, it is damage to the spinal cord that results in partial or total loss of motor control and sensation.

After an SCI, your ability to control your arms and legs depends on two different elements: at what point along your spinal cord the injury was sustained, and the seriousness or extent of the SCI. The neurological level of the injury refers to the lowest part of your spinal cord that is still “normal” after the injury.  The “completeness” of the injury refers to the severity of the injury.  Completeness can be classified in 2 categories:

  • Complete. An SCI is considered “complete” if the injured person has lost almost all sensory feeling and ability to control movement (known as “motor function”).
  • Incomplete. When an SCI injury leaves the injured person with some sensory or motor function below the area(s) affected by the injury, it is referred to as an “incomplete” SCI.  There are, as one would imagine, different degrees of incomplete injuries.

In addition, paralysis from an SCI may be referred to as:

  • Tetraplegia or quadriplegia. Your legs, trunk, arms, hands, and pelvic organs are all affected by the SCI; or
  • Paraplegia. Paralysis affects all or part of the torso, pelvic organs, and legs.

Accident victims who suffer an SCI can suffer from an assortment of ailments because the spinal cord controls such bodily functions as breathing, bowel and bladder, body temperature, and sexual activity. SCI patients are also prone to suffer from issues such as bedsores, bladder and lung infections.

Spinal cord injuries of any kind may result in one or more of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Loss of movement
  • Loss of feeling, including possible loss of the ability to feel touch or differentiate between heat and cold
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Muscle spasms and exaggerated reflex responses
  • Changes in sexual fertility, function and sensitivity
  • Pain or an intense stinging sensation caused by damage to the spinal cord’s nerve fibers
  • Trouble breathing, coughing, or clearing secretions from your lungs

Emergency signs and symptoms

After an accident, you should watch for the following signs and symptoms in yourself  and others injured, as they might signal a spinal cord injury:

  • Severe pain or pressure in your neck, head or back
  • Lack of coordination, weakness, or paralysis anywhere in your body
  • Numbness, tingling or loss of sensation in your toes, feet, fingers or hands
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control or function
  • Trouble with walking and balance
  • Difficulty breathing after the injury
  • An oddly positioned or twisted back or neck

When to see a doctor

In any situation where someone suffers significant trauma to their head or neck, they should seek immediate medical care and evaluation for a possible spinal injury.  In truth, it’s always safer to assume that a victim has suffered a spinal injury until it can be proven otherwise because:

  • A severe spinal injury is not always readily apparent. If an SCI isn’t recognized right away, a more serious injury might occur.
  • Paralysis or numbness might be present immediately after the injury, or they may come on gradually as swelling or bleeding begin to occur in or around the spinal cord.
  • The amount of time between the victim’s injury and getting medical treatment can be critical in determining the extent of complications and the amount of recovery possible.

The personal injury lawyers at the Halperin Law Center have many years of experience litigating complex cases that involve partial or complete spinal cord injuries. We can be your partner and guide you through the process of forcing those who caused your injury to compensate you for your damages.  We will work tirelessly to see that you are awarded the funds necessary to ensure that all of your lost wages, past medical costs, and projected future care are covered. We will fight for the compensation for your pain and suffering, which you are entitled to by law.  If you have suffered a spinal cord injury through no fault of your own, contact the attorneys at The Halperin Law Center for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation to discuss the specifics of your case.