A spinal cord injury is one of the most serious injuries one can sustain in an accident. Many spinal cord injuries results in paraplegia, which is an inability to move the lower part of the body, or even quadriplegia, the inability to move the body at all. Even if a patient recovers some movement after rehabilitation, they may still have long-term medical issues to deal with for the rest of their lives.

When dealing with a lawsuit involving a spinal cord injury, it’s crucial to understand the long-term effects of the injury. The majority of these injuries can cause lifelong physical and financial issues, and these need to be taken into consideration if you are thinking about filing a lawsuit. People with spinal cord injuries are often eligible for higher settlements because of the catastrophic nature of their injuries.

The effects of spinal cord injuries depend on where on the spinal cord the injury occurred.

High Tetraplegia

An injury to the C1 to C4 vertebrae impairs the ability to move or feel from the neck down, also known as total body paralysis. These types of injuries typically require assistance for breathing, bladder, and bowel function. People who have sustained these injuries typically also need help with day-to-day life activities. Lifetime financial expenses each year for high tetraplegia average $178,000, after an initial $1,000,000 for the first year. Keep in mind when we talk about financial expenses, it doesn’t include loss of wages or productivity.

Low Tetraplegia

People with injuries to the C5 to C8 vertebrae may have partial movement in the shoulder, elbow, or hands. They may breathe unassisted, but may need assistance with bladder and bowel care. Patients may still be unable to walk. Lifetime financial expenses can start out around $740,000 the first year and $109,000 each year after.


Injuries to the thoracic or lumbar vertebrae are called paraplegia, and typically allow upper extremity function to remain normal. Impairment remains below the waist and some patients can walk short distances with assistive devices like a walker. Financial expenses are usually $500,000 for the first year and $66,000 each year after.

And, incomplete motor function at any level can also have damaging financial effects—$334,000 for the first year and $40,500 each year thereafter [NJCISC].

Long-term health effects

Those with spinal cord injuries also have more long-term health issues to worry about. They may suffer from bladder infections and kidney stones. Osteoporosis also develops early for those who suffer spinal cord injuries. Other issues are muscle spasticity and syringomyelia, a numbness and weakness in the extremities.

Spinal cord injuries can be catastrophic and life-altering. The Chattanooga spinal injury lawyers at Wagner & Wagner Attorneys at Law provide compassionate and experienced representation, and will advocate for the compensation you deserve for your injuries. We serve clients in Chattanooga and Cleveland, TN, in North Georgia, and all surrounding counties. Call us today at 423-799-3532 or complete our contact form to schedule your free consultation.