Open Accessibility Menu

Four Types of Spinal Cord Injuries from Car Accidents

Jason Reese

Spinal Cord Injuries Are Most Commonly Caused by Motor Vehicle Accidents

Spinal cord injuries and related traumas to the back, head and neck can be caused by motorcycle crashes, motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, or even falls. Some of these injuries to the spine can be triggered by birth diseases and medical mishaps during surgeries where oxygen has been deprived. These injuries often result in intense pain, stiffness, or numbness from the spinal cord becoming bruised, stretched, or crushed. More serious injuries to the spine can impact a person’s ability to control limbs depending on where along the spinal cord the injury is and also its severity of damage created by fractures, dislocation, burst, compression, hyperextension or hyperflexion. The severity of the injury is often called “the completeness” and is classified as either “complete”, meaning almost all feeling and ability to control movement are lost, or “incomplete” meaning there may be some motor or sensory function below the affected area.

Here is a review of spinal cord injuries most often occurring from motor vehicle accidents. This information is provided with sources from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

Cervical spinal cord injury C1-C8

Cervical level injuries cause paralysis or weakness in both arms and legs, resulting in quadriplegia (also known as tetraplegia). This area of the spinal cord controls signals to the back of the head, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, and diaphragm. Since the neck region is so flexible it is difficult to stabilize cervical spinal cord injuries. Individuals may be placed in a brace or stabilizing device.

Thoracic spinal cord injury T1-T12

These are less common injuries because of the protection given by the rib cage. Thoracic injuries can cause paralysis or weakness of the legs (paraplegia) along with loss of physical sensation, bowel, bladder, and sexual dysfunction. In most cases, arms and hands are not affected.

Lumbar spinal cord injury L1-L5

Lumbar level injuries result in paralysis or weakness of the legs (paraplegia). Loss of physical sensation, bowel, bladder, and sexual dysfunction can occur. However, shoulders, arms, and hand function are usually unaffected. The lumbar area of the spinal cord controls signals to the lower parts of the abdomen and the back, the buttocks, some parts of the external genital organs, and parts of the leg. These injuries often require surgery and external stabilization.

Sacral spinal cord injury S1-S5

Sacral level injuries primarily cause loss of bowel and bladder function as well as sexual dysfunction. These injuries can cause weakness or paralysis of the hips and legs.

A study from the Reeve Foundation estimates that over 1.2 million Americans are living with paralysis resulting from spinal cord injuries.

Living with a Spinal Cord Injury is Costly

Spinal cord injuries are often permanent, meaning that the victims will suffer with a lifetime of complications and symptoms as a result. Most clients will need damages to recover from the cost of the accident they suffered, cover the medical bills they have accumulated, and allow for the cost of living expenses they may have while out of work. When the lawyers of Wagner Reese take on a personal injury case involving spinal cord injuries and paralysis, we fight for the victims to receive the compensation they deserve to have the care they require, looking far into the future and planning for that care through the remainder of their life. Our job, as personal injury lawyers, is to think about the short-term and the long-term needs of our clients. We work hard for our clients to develop a Life Care Plan to assess the future costs of their livelihood as well, ensuring they and their families will be well cared for, in spite of the injury.

Call the personal injury attorneys or medical malpractice team at Wagner Reese for your FREE consultation at (888) 204-8440 or complete our online form and one of our attorneys will be in touch.

Video Transcript

If you have been involved in a spinal cord case in Indiana, you have several options. The first is not to make a claim. If you have workers’ compensation or health insurance, you may choose not to pursue a claim. But these are serious injuries and they’re life altering. It’s likely that you are going to want to consult with an attorney and consider bringing a lawsuit to recover your full damages.


Request Your Free Case Evaluation

Fill out the form below to get started or give us a call at (888) 204-8440 to speak with our legal team directly.

  • Please enter your First Name.
  • Please enter your Last Name.
  • This isn't a valid phone number.
    Please enter your phone number.
    You entered an invalid number.
  • This isn't a valid email address.
    Please enter your email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.

Our Locations

  • Indianapolis Office: 201 N. Illinois St.,
    16th Floor - South Tower

    Indianapolis, IN 46204
  • Carmel Office: 11939 N. Meridian St.
    Carmel, IN 46032
  • Evansville Office: 815 John St. Suite 110
    Evansville, IN 47713
  • Fort Wayne Office: 3201 Stellhorn Rd
    Fort Wayne, IN 46815
  • Champaign Office: 701 Devonshire Dr., Suite C17
    Champaign, IL 61820