Temporary Paralysis After A Car Accident

March 17, 2024

By Promoting Justice

Back, neck, and spinal cord injuries are common after a car crash, including temporary or permanent nerve damage and paralysis. With intensive medical care and rehabilitative therapy, some people are able to achieve a partial or total recovery from car accident paralysis. Others have had their lives forever altered. When an injured person suffers temporary paralysis after a car accident, securing compensatory damages can make a difference in the quality of medical care they are able to access and help to alleviate the financial burdens caused by the accident and injury. To learn more about your legal rights to compensation after a car accident injury, contact the personal injury lawyers with Shillen Mackall Seldon & Spicer today by calling (802) 457-4848 to schedule a free personalized consultation to review your case.

Can You Be Temporarily Paralyzed After a Car Accident?

Spinal cord injuries can be among the most disruptive, life-altering consequences of a motor vehicle accident. The experience of waking up and being unable to move, or even to feel, arms or legs or other parts of the body is one that many car accident victims find extremely disturbing. The injured individuals often wonder: Is paralysis permanent? 

The answer is: sometimes. If the injuries sustained in an accident have actually severed the delicate bundle of nerve fibers that makes up the spinal cord, then in general the expectation is that the paralysis will be permanent, and medical care will likely focus on helping the accident victim to adapt to their newly limited sensation and mobility. In some cases, however, the spinal cord may only be bruised, not severed. Temporary paralysis caused by bruising of the spinal cord may require surgery, physical rehabilitation therapy, or a combination of both –– in addition to simple time –– but in many cases it is possible for the accident victim to regain some or all of their previous functionality. 

How Long Does Temporary Paralysis Last?

“Temporary” should not be confused with “minor.” Some people may be able to make a full recovery after being paralyzed in a car accident, but for many, “temporary” means something else altogether. Many people may see their muscle control come and go, and their corresponding abilities change daily or weekly. Sometimes, this inconsistent muscle control results from the brain, spinal cord, and nerves healing, and may resolve with time and physical therapy; in other cases, while these lapses of muscle control may be “temporary” in the sense that they are intermittent, they are also “permanent,” in the sense that the inconsistency remains lifelong.

Paralysis also weakens the muscles and may lead to atrophy with long-term disuse. Intensive physical therapy can help slow muscle degeneration, making it easier for people with inconsistent muscle control to exercise more deliberate control over their movements.

Can Trauma Cause Temporary Paralysis?

The extent of an individual’s PIP is determined by the location of the spinal trauma. The closer to the base of the skull, the injury is, the more complete the paralysis. Car accidents are one of the leading causes of spinal cord injuries, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), with an estimated 37.6% of spinal cord injuries stemming from vehicle collisions.

After serious accidents, some people may develop Trauma-Induced Paralysis (TIP), a medical condition caused by a serious injury to the nerves and neural pathways in the body. In a traumatic event, like a car crash, the spinal cord may be damaged. Bruising of the spinal cord or a herniated disc putting painful pressure on the part of the spinal cord can cause numbness, poor muscle control, or spasms.

What Are the Symptoms of Spinal Trauma After a Car Accident?

The Mayo Clinic lists multiple symptoms of possible spinal cord damage. If you note any of the following emergency symptoms just after a car crash, or develop any of the listed symptoms over the following days, see a doctor: 

  • Loss of control over parts of your body, poor coordination, or weakness
  • Extreme pain or pressure in your back, neck, or head
  • Trouble walking or problems with balance
  • Numbness, tingling, or loss of feeling in your extremities
  • Problems breathing
  • Incontinence
  • Twisted back or neck

Emergency medical care may help prevent further damage if you experience these symptoms. However, spinal cord damage also has delayed symptoms. If you suffer one or more of these, and you have recently been in a car crash, you should seek immediate medical attention:

  • Sudden loss of motor control or ability to move
  • Changes in your ability to feel hot or cold
  • Incontinence
  • Muscle spasms or exaggerated reflexes
  • Problems with sexual function, including ED or decreased sensitivity
  • Problems breathing or expectorating
  • Intense stinging sensation in the back

Your Legal Options After Becoming Temporarily Paralyzed

Securing the compensation to cover the full costs of your medical care and other accident-related expenses can be complicated. Due to the serious nature of injuries involving paralysis, these cases may be more complex than other car accident claims. Insurance companies often apply enhanced scrutiny to high-value claims, and the complexity of diagnosis and treatment involved in spinal injuries can often paralysis cases in this category. Negotiating the legal matters associated with personal injury claims can feel overwhelming without legal help.

An experienced personal injury attorney can act as an accident victim’s advocate, representing the injured party’s interests with the other driver’s insurance company and fighting for a fair settlement to cover the costs of repair bills, medical care, and other expenses so you can access the care you need while you recover. The personal injury lawyers with Shillen Mackall Seldon & Spicer work with accident victims to build a case against the at-fault party to establish their negligence and their liability for a client’s losses resulting from an accident, such as:

  • Past, present, and future medical care
  • Lost wages and loss of earning potential 
  • Medical devices and assistive technology
  • Modifications to your house or vehicle
  • Pain and suffering, and emotional distress
  • Diminished quality of life

How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help Me?

Car accident attorneys do help accident victims file lawsuits to seek compensation for their injuries and other losses, but they usually proceed to this step only after negotiations with the at-fault party, or their insurance company, have proven ineffective. Many personal injury claims are actually settled out of court. 

Investigation and Negotiation

In general, a car accident attorney will begin by conducting an independent investigation into the accident to collect evidence that demonstrates the negligence of the at-fault driver, establishes a comprehensive tally of financial and non-financial damages, and documents any aggravating factors that may have been involved. While it is true that the insurance companies representing at-fault drivers have a strong incentive to offer the lowest possible payouts, they also have an incentive to avoid the costs of litigation in a case they may find difficult to win –– so a thorough investigation that produces clear and compelling evidence of the driver’s fault and the extent of the damages for which they may be held liable may make a time-consuming court case unnecessary. 

Settlements and Legal Action

When needed, however, a personal injury lawyer can draft an accident victim’s suit and handle the legal matters necessary to advance a claim, including ongoing negotiations with the other party’s insurance company. Personal injury cases are frequently referred to mediation, and a car accident attorney can represent their client in negotiations as well as supporting them in remaining calm and focused on getting a fair settlement. If the other party will not agree to full and fair compensation, a car accident lawyer can take their client’s case to civil court.

Contact a Personal Injury Law Firm Today

Are you struggling to get the money you need for treatment of temporary paralysis after a car accident or other trauma? The experienced car accident lawyers at Shillen Mackall Seldon & Spicer may be able to help. We accept car accident injury cases on a contingency basis. Book your free personalized consultation today by calling (802) 457-4848 in Vermont, Florida, or New Hampshire.