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September 14, 2023

Long-Term Consequences of Spinal Cord Injury After a Car Accident

Driving a car is a necessity for many in Rhode Island. According to the U.S. census, there are currently around 870,000 registered cars in Rhode Island. That’s nearly 100,000 more vehicles than licensed drivers in our state. And each one of these on the road poses a potential danger.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2021, over 2 million people were injured in car accidents across the United States. That same year, more than 42,000 people lost their lives in car crashes. These figures demonstrate a concerning increase in road accidents over the years.

The repercussions of car accidents can be severe, particularly when spinal cord injuries (SCI) are involved. If you sustain an SCI in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you are entitled to seek compensation from the responsible party.

If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury in a car accident, the experienced Providence SCI lawyers at Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell are here to help. Call us at (401) 273-8330 to schedule your FREE and confidential consultation. We serve Providence and all surrounding areas of Rhode Island.

Car Accidents and Spinal Cord Injury

The spinal cord is one of the most sensitive parts of the human body. Even a minor collision can result in SCI. These injuries disrupt the communication between the brain and other parts of the body, leading to loss of sensation, function, mobility, and more.

One of the most terrifying aspects of SCI is that swelling or bleeding around the spinal cord can cause a delayed onset of symptoms. It is important to seek a full medical evaluation after a car accident even if you believe you are fine. Prompt detection is essential for the most successful recovery.

The emotional and psychological toll of an SCI can be just as devastating as the physical damage. The loss of mobility or sensation can have a profound impact on your lifestyle, and affect your ability to work, engage in hobbies, or even perform basic daily tasks. If you have sustained an SCI in a car accident, the Providence spinal cord injury attorneys at Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell are here to listen to your story and help you understand your rights.

Types of Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injuries can be classified into four main categories, each with unique consequences:

Cervical SCI

Affecting the neck area, injuries to the cervical spine are among the most severe. They can lead to:

  • Quadriplegia
  • Respiratory Issues
  • Loss of Sensation
  • Increased Risk of Death

Thoracic SCI

Thoracic injury affects the middle back area and can impact functions related to the torso and legs. Consequences of this injury might include:

  • Paraplegia
  • Limited Torso Control
  • Bowel and Bladder Dysfunction
  • Sexual Dysfunction

Lumbar SCI

Injuries to the lumbar spine affect the lower back. They can lead to significant issues, such as:

  • Loss of Control Over Hips and Legs
  • Bowel and Bladder Dysfunction
  • Chronic Pain
  • Difficulty in Daily Tasks

Sacral SCI

Sacral injuries affect the pelvic region. Damage to the lowest part of the spine can lead to specific issues like:

  • Loss of Bowel and Bladder Control
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Weakness or Paralysis in the Hips and Legs
  • Sensory Loss

Rehabilitation and therapy might help restore some of the function lost due to a spinal cord injury, but the road to recovery is often long, painful, and costly. This is yet another reason victims of car accidents involving SCI should consult with an experienced Providence spinal cord injury attorney. An experienced lawyer can fight for the compensation you truly need to cover medical expenses, ongoing care, lost wages, and associated costs.

Complete vs. Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injury is classified into two main types:

  • Complete SCI
  • Incomplete SCI 

Complete SCI refers to a severing, breaking, or destruction of the spinal cord. Damage from a complete SCI is severe enough to result in a total loss of sensory and motor function below the level of the injury.

With an incomplete SCI, the spinal cord may be bruised or damaged, but it is still intact and partially functional. There is some remaining function below the level of injury with incomplete SCI, but it is often severely limited.

spinal cord injury lawyers

The Lifetime Costs of Spinal Cord Injury

The type and extent of spinal cord injury you sustain will impact your lifetime costs. However, even minor SCI can result in hundreds of thousands in medical expenses, lost wages, and personal pain and suffering.

Costs associated with SCI typically include:

Medical Bills

The medical care required immediately after a spinal cord injury can be extensive. This includes emergency services, surgeries, intensive care, and specialized equipment.

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation estimates that the first-year costs for a person with high tetraplegia can exceed $1 million, with subsequent annual expenses averaging around $185,000.


Long-term rehabilitation is often necessary for individuals with SCI. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and psychological counseling are among the services needed.

According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), the lifetime cost of rehabilitation can be in the range of millions of dollars, depending on the severity and level of the injury.

Ongoing Care

Many individuals with SCI require ongoing personal care, home modifications, and assistive devices such as wheelchairs. The costs of these services and equipment can be substantial over a lifetime.

Lost Wages and Earning Potential

SCI often results in long-term or permanent disability, potentially affecting your current and future ability to work. Depending on your age at the time of the injury, this reduction in earning potential can amount to millions of dollars in lost wages over the years.

Insurance Limitations

Health insurance may not cover all the costs associated with SCI. This, tragically, means that many victims are left with significant out-of-pocket expenses.

Insurance companies are often quick to offer settlements to victims of SCI in car accidents. They know that if they can convince you to take their offer, you will be barred from seeking additional compensation. Before you accept an offer, speak to an attorney. This helps to ensure you do not waive your rights or lose your options.

Our Providence Car Accident Lawyers Are Here to Help

If you are dealing with a spinal cord injury, the Providence car accident lawyers at Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell have the experience, background, and tenacity to seek the full compensation you are entitled to. Our award-winning legal team has secured millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts. We are prepared to take your claim as far as needed to help you get the justice you are due. And, with our No Fee Promise, you can rest knowing that you only pay for our services after we have secured a positive outcome for your claim.

Contact Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell for a Free Case Review!

if you or someone you love has sustained an SCI in a car accident, call (401) 273-8330 to schedule your complimentary case review today. The Providence spinal cord injury lawyers at Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell serve victims of SCI and other serious car accident injuries throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts.