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Personal Injury

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Spinal Cord Injury

Our Honolulu spinal cord injury attorneys at Leavitt Yamane & Soldner know how debilitating and life-changing a serious back or neck injury can be. To remedy an injury of this magnitude, a major investment of both time and resources may be required from your attorney. Our legal team works on a contingency basis, meaning we will not collect fees to cover the costs of the trial, expert witnesses, doctors, scene reconstruction, and other expenses unless you recover compensation

Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries

Currently, there are an estimated 250,000 people in the U.S. living with a spinal cord injury. Auto accidents are responsible for a majority of spinal cord injury cases in Hawaii, and most of these accidents occur due to another driver’s negligent actions. It can take months and even years to recover from spinal injuries, and often the victim’s quality of life is forever altered. In the event that the spinal cord injury causes quadriplegia or paraplegia, the victim will remain disabled for the rest of his or her life.

A multitude of medical problems can accompany a spinal cord injury, including:
• Respiratory ailments
• Physical impairments (sensory and motor losses)
• Bowel and bladder complications
• Psychosocial disorders, such as severe depression

Legal Representation in Spinal Cord Injury Cases

If you or someone you love has suffered a debilitating spinal cord injury, the lawyers at Leavitt Yamane & Soldner can offer the skilled legal advice essential to settling your case. Severe spinal injuries are irreversible and can lead to life-long paralysis. The importance of finding a legal remedy to such a serious situation cannot be overemphasized. Victims who have been injured due to another’s negligence deserve compensation, especially when the recovery is as arduous and costly as that involved with spinal cord injuries.

+ Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury


For spinal cord injury victims, the time that elapses between injury and treatment can be critical to the outcome for the patient. Prompt medical treatment in some cases can reduce the severity of an injury if received soon enough after trauma occurs. For these reasons, it is important to recognize the symptoms of spinal cord injury and to act promptly.


Severe spinal cord injury is not always immediately obvious. Paralysis or numbness can develop gradually from swelling or bleeding in or around the spinal cord. Anyone receiving significant trauma to the head, neck, or back should be medically evaluated at once for damage to the spinal cord.

If you suspect that someone has suffered an injury to the spine, it is extremely important not to lift or move the injured person. It could cause permanent paralysis and other serious complications.


The nature and level of impairment from spinal cord injury depends on the location and severity of the injury. Paralysis of the body occurs below the level of the injury.

The severity of the spinal injury may be classified as “complete” or “incomplete.” With complete injuries, all or almost all sensation and motor control are lost below the level of the injury. An injury is classified as incomplete, in varying degrees, if there is some remaining sensation and motor function below the level of the injury.

Any of the following symptoms may result from a spinal cord injury:
• Loss of ability to move parts of the body
• Loss of sensation, including heat, cold, and touch
• Changes in fertility and sexual sensitivity and function
• Loss of bladder or bowel control
• Intense stinging or pain from damage to spinal cord nerve fibers
• Difficulty breathing, coughing, or clearing out the lungs
• Diagnosing Spinal Cord Injuries

A spinal injury victim must be kept immobile and carefully moved to an emergency treatment center. The medical staff will question the patient about the accident and test the patient for mobility and sensory function. If a doctor determines that it is necessary, further tests using various types of imaging will be performed.

Imaging options for spinal injuries include:
• CT scan
• Myelogram, in which the spine is X-rayed after dye is injected
• Somatosensory evoked potential (SSEP)
• Magnetic stimulation
• Spinal X-rays

A doctor will perform a complete neurological exam, usually about the third day after the injury to diagnose how severe the injury may be, and to what extent the patient is likely to recover. The patient will be rated according to the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) scale, which has 5 classifications, A through E, with A being complete impairment and E being all functions normal.

Leavitt Yamane & Soldner Offers Legal Help for Victims of Spinal Cord Injury

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the estimated lifetime cost of a spinal cord injury ranges from $500,000 to more than $3,000,000. At Leavitt Yamane & Soldner, we help people who have suffered spinal cord injury recover the compensation they need to move forward with their lives.

There are many causes of spinal cord injury, but the number one cause is automobile accidents. If you have suffered spinal cord injury in an accident caused by someone else’s carelessness or negligence, you will undoubtedly have questions about car accident insurance and need legal assistance in dealing with insurance companies.

+ Types of Spinal Cord Injury

The spinal cord is a group of nerve fibers and tissue extending down the length of the spine. The spinal cord and the brain comprise the body’s central nervous system. Impulses are sent to and from the brain to various parts of the body through the nerve fibers within the spinal cord. When an injury causes damage to the spinal cord, communication between the brain and the rest of the body is hindered to a greater or lesser degree. Individuals who sustain spinal cord injuries generally experience diminished sensation in body parts below the point of impact, a lack of mobility, and reduced functionality of internal body organs. An acute spinal cord injury (SCI) can cause bruising, a partial tear or a full tear of the spinal cord. This type of injury often results in permanent disability or death.


There are two primary types of spinal cord injuries: complete and incomplete. When an individual sustains a complete SCI, he or she will have no sensation, mobility or functionality below the point of injury. Complete spinal cord injuries affect both sides of the body and can occur at any point on the spinal cord.


Spinal cord injuries can result from a number of causes.

Some of the most common causes of spinal cord injuries are:
• Falls
• Motor vehicle accidents
• Pedestrian accidents
• Sports injuries
• Industrial or work-related accidents
• Trampoline injuries
• Birth Injuries
• Disease (such as Polio or Spina Bifida)
• Assaults and other types of physical violence
• Individuals whose bodies have been weakened due to a pre-existing physical condition, such as arthritis, will be more susceptible to sustaining spinal cord trauma in what would otherwise be considered as a minor accident or injury.


Spinal cord injuries are classified by the type and extent of motor and sensory function loss. The spinal cord is protected by bones called vertebrae. This makes it convenient to classify the spinal cord in segments by the corresponding vertebrae and nerves.

Cervical injuries

Cervical injuries are those spinal cord injuries to either the C1 through C7 cervical vertebrae or the C1 through C8 cervical nerves. Cervical injuries can lead to quadriplegia or a complete loss of function or sensation in a person’s chest, arms, and legs. The respiratory system as well as bowel and bladder control can be impacted.

Thoracic injuries

Thoracic injuries occur to the T1 through T12 vertebrae or T1 through T12 nerves found in the chest and rib cage. These types of injuries primarily affect the chest or legs. Injuries sustained in the upper thoracic area can impact breathing. Thoracic injuries may lead to paraplegia, or in more severe cases, quadriplegia.

Lumbar injuries

Lumbar injuries are those sustained to the L1 through L5 vertebrae or to the L1 through L5 nerves. The lumbar area is located from the chest to the pelvis. Injuries to this portion of the spinal cord can affect the hips and legs, as well as bowel and bladder control. In more serious cases, this type of injury can result in triplegia or paraplegia.

Sacral injuries

Sacral injuries are injuries that occur to the spinal cord located between the pelvis and the end of the spine. As with lumbar injuries, injuries to the S1 through S5 vertebrae or to the S1 through S5 nerves can have an impact on a person’s hips, legs, bowel, and bladder control. This type of injury can also cause temporary or permanent triplegia or paraplegia.


Not all spinal cord injury victims experience the same type of symptoms or level of injury. The point of impact, severity of impact, pre-existing conditions, and other factors all contribute to the symptoms that an individual experiences.

If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury, here are some of the common symptoms:
• Muscle weakness
• Loss of mobility in the chest, trunk, arms or legs
• Loss of sensation or feeling in the chest, trunk, arms or legs
• Stiffness or tightening of muscles
• Muscle spasms or exaggerated reflex activities
• Significant pain or stinging sensation
• Difficulty breathing
• Significant increase or decrease in heart rate or blood pressure
• Digestive problems
• Loss of bowel and bladder control
• Sexual dysfunction or sensitivity

Should you or your loved one experience extreme pain or pressure in your back, neck or head, paralysis, loss of sensation in your extremities, a complete loss of bowel or bladder control, difficulty maintaining balance or walking, impaired breathing or if you notice any deformity in your neck or back, seek emergency medical attention at once. Any individual who sustains an injury to the neck, back or head should seek medical assistance immediately. Delay in seeking treatment could lead to further complications.

Rehabilitating Spinal Cord Injuries

The problem with spinal cord injuries is that damage to the spinal cord is irreversible. There are, however, a variety of treatments and medical drugs that can help improve functionality of the remaining nerves and promote nerve cell regeneration. After an individual has sustained a SCI, it is important to begin a rehabilitation program as soon as possible. The goal is to help the spinal cord injury survivor regain the highest level of functionality and independence possible. As an individual becomes more self-sufficient and regains mobility, a dramatic improvement in his or her quality of life will often be seen.

Success at rehabilitating spinal cord injuries depends greatly on:
• The type and extent of a person’s injury
• The impairments he or she is currently experiencing and overall health
• His or her personal attitude and system of familial support.


The scope of a rehabilitation program after a spinal cord injury depends on the extent of the injuries. People with quadriplegia will require long-term, around the clock care. Many will also require a ventilator or some other type of respiratory support, as well as a powered wheelchair to get around. With extensive work, even those with a significant SCI may be able to regain some level of independence and mobility.

Honolulu Personal Injury Lawyers Helping You Pursue Financial Compensation

If you or someone you love has experienced a spinal cord injury, our Honolulu personal injury attorneys are here to provide you with the legal representation and spinal cord injury support assistance you need. We understand the long-lasting effects such injuries have on your finances and quality of life. In cases where a SCI was sustained as a result of another person’s negligence, carelessness or intentional wrongdoing, the victim may have a legal right to pursue financial compensation for the injuries sustained.

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Helping You Get Your Life Back on Track

Since 1981, each Honolulu personal injury lawyer at Leavitt Yamane & Soldner has stood up for the legal rights of injured people throughout Hawaii. We are aggressive when it comes to dealing with insurance companies. We won’t accept unreasonable delays or denial of a valid personal injury claim. We are also passionate about helping victims and their families to get their lives back on track. We truly care about our clients and want to do whatever we can to secure their future.

It’s important to get in touch with us as soon as possible after your accident or injury. It takes immediate action to preserve evidence, document medical treatment and interview witnesses. It’s also crucial to begin reviewing all available insurance coverage in your case. We provide free and confidential case reviews, with no strings attached. If we take on your case, you won’t pay a cent for our legal services unless we win or settle your case.
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