computer image of spinal cord and brainMotorcycle accidents always have the potential to culminate in serious, life-threatening injuries. While many motorcyclists do everything they can to ensure their safety, they cannot control how other people drive. When another motorist forgets to check their side-view mirror, gets road rage, or gets behind the wheel after drinking, the consequences can be catastrophic. A motorcyclist could suffer spinal cord injuries, landing them in the hospital and leading to a long and painful recovery.

How Spinal Cord Injuries Happen

Riding motorcycles is an enjoyable pastime for many and a lifestyle for some. However, motorcycling is not without its risks. Unfortunately, the biggest risk to most bikers is one they cannot avoid: the other people with whom they share the road.

While any motorcycle accident could conceivably lead to a spinal cord injury, there are certain types of collision where these injuries are more likely to occur:

  • Multi-vehicle accidents. Motorcyclists are most likely to suffer spinal cord injuries when they are hit by one or more other vehicles. This is because the force of impact can propel a motorcyclist off their seat, sending them airborne. Even if a biker is wearing protective gear, they could still hurt their spinal cord if they land at the wrong angle.
  • Head-on crashes. Frontal collisions could cause spinal cord injuries if the motorcyclist, the other vehicle, or both are traveling at high rates of speed. Head-on crashes are especially dangerous because they exert massive amounts of physical force on all affected body parts.
  • Road attributes. Motorcycle riders are more likely to experience spinal cord injuries if they hit another object after being ejected from their seat or thrown onto the ground. Common culprits could include guardrails, elevated curbs, trees, and other vehicles.

The Different Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

The spinal column is incredibly complex in that it contains a network of bones, tissue, and nerves. This network serves as a critical communication center, channeling signals between the brain and the rest of the body. Since the spine serves such an important purpose, any injury could affect many different organs, appendages, and functions.

The spinal cord is divided into four separate sections:

  • Sacral spine. Injuries to the sacral spine could affect the lower body, such as the buttocks, thighs, and hips.
  • Lumbar spine. Injuries to the lumbar spine may affect the hips and legs. Moderate and severe lumbar injuries often lead to partial lower-body paralysis.
  • Thoracic spine. Injuries to the thoracic spine may affect the functioning of the abdominal muscles, as well as those in the chest and back.
  • Cervical spine. Injuries to the cervical spine can be very severe and may cause full-body paralysis. They may also affect physical function across the body as well as cognition.

Spinal injuries are further broken down into two distinct categories: 

  • Complete spinal cord injuries. If an injury is significant, it could be considered a complete spinal cord injury. A complete spinal cord injury may cause paralysis and paraplegia.
  • Incomplete spinal cord injuries. Depending on the severity of the injury, an incomplete spinal cord injury might result in the loss of motor function or sensation.

Living With a Spinal Cord Injury

Living with a spinal cord injury can be incredibly difficult. Even minor and incomplete spinal cord injuries can have life-altering effects, such as the following:

  • You might suffer partial or full-body paralysis, making it impossible to play sports, spend time with family, or work an ordinary job.
  • Your cognitive abilities could deteriorate, complicating everyday tasks. You may be unable to drive, experience certain sensations, or enjoy life the same way you did before the accident.
  • You may lose your independence, requiring costly, full-time care for years and, potentially, the rest of your life. 

The long-term costs of a spinal cord injury could quickly spiral out of control: you might need expensive surgeries, years of physical rehabilitation, or a dedicated in-home caretaker.

You or your family members may have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars—maybe even millions—to provide a quality of life that likely pales in comparison to what you used to enjoy.

What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident Spinal Cord Injury

Missouri law provides opportunities for compensation after a serious motorcycle accident. If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury in a motorcycle accident, you could be entitled to significant compensation.

Unlike some other states, Missouri does not cap the damages you can receive after a motorcycle accident. You could obtain damages for:

  • Past, present, and future medical expenses
  • Prescription medication
  • Physical rehabilitation
  • Medical aids and accessories
  • Home modifications, such as wheelchair ramp or automated staircase assistant
  • Long-term care
  • Disfigurement
  • Paralysis
  • Lost income and earning opportunities
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Loss of companionship
  • Emotional pain and suffering

A Missouri motorcycle accident attorney could help you and your family secure the money you need to begin healing. Even if your doctor does not believe a full medical recovery is possible, your loved ones would be able to direct your treatment without driving themselves into debt.

However, you need to act fast: Missouri has a strict statute of limitations. If you wait too long to file a lawsuit, you will not be able to submit an insurance claim or file a personal injury lawsuit. Even if you have a clear-cut, open-and-shut case, the court will dismiss it without listening to your story.