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Can a car crash paralyze you?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Should you become the victim of a California car crash, the result could be paralysis of the lower part of your body or even virtually all of it, forcing you to live in a wheelchair for the remainder of your life.

The Mayfield Clinic, an internationally recognized leader in neurological surgery, explains that your spinal cord and its nerves represent the way in which your brain carries messages to the rest of your body. If you completely or even partially sever your spinal cord during a car crash, those messages cannot get through and you could lose the ability to voluntarily move below your point of injury.

Your vertebrae

You may not realize it, but your back contains the following 33 vertebrae; i.e., bones:

  • Five located in your neck, called your cervical region or c-spine
  • Twelve located between your neck and your waist, called your thoracic region
  • Five located between your waist and lower back, called your lumbar region
  • Five fused together between your lower back and your tailbone, called your sacral region
  • Four fused together that make up your actual tailbone, called your coccyx region


Should your spinal cord injury (SCI) occur in your lumbar region, the result likely will be paraplegia; i.e., partial or complete paralysis of your legs and feet. Not only will you be unable to walk or move them much, if at all, you also may lose sensation below your injury point, resulting in loss of control over your bladder and bowel functions.


As devastating as a spinal cord injury to your lumbar region could be, an SCI to your thoracic or cervical region could be even more catastrophic. Here paralysis affects not only your legs and feet, but also your arms, hands and most of your torso, resulting in your becoming a quadriplegic. You will be unable to move or feel nearly all of your body. The higher up your injury, the more paralysis you will suffer and the more help you will need to perform necessary daily tasks such as transferring from your bed to your wheelchair and back again, eating, drinking, bathing, and possibly even breathing.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.

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