An injury that leads to paralysis doesn’t come with any warning. In one day, your entire life changes.

Maybe it’s a car accident, with another driver running a red light. Maybe it’s a bicycle accident when a car cuts you off. Maybe it’s a botched surgery in the hospital, as a surgeon causes irreparable damage.

No matter how it happens, you find yourself newly paralyzed and struggling to deal with this new normal. You know that full healing may never occur; maybe doctors have already told you that it won’t. You have a lot of questions and you’re trying to sort everything out.

We want to help. Here are a few common questions people have in your situation:

1. Should you watch out for secondary conditions?

Yes. Secondary conditions are medical complications that may stem from your paralysis, and they can mean you need additional types of medical care in the future. Some potential secondary conditions include deep vein thrombosis, blood clots, autonomic dysreflexia, pneumonia and pressure sores.

2. Is your spinal cord completely severed?

People often think that a complete break in the spinal cord is what leads to paralysis, and it certainly can. However, it is not necessary. You may only have a spinal cord that is crushed, brusied, partially severed or stretched. All of those things can lead to a notable loss of function, and the severity is different from case to case.

3. Will it heal?

Possibly, but every case is different. By working with medical professionals and therapists, you can often regain some function and motor skills. But that does not mean that it will ever completely heal or go back to “normal.” Many times, paralysis lasts for life, even with the best treatment in the world.

4. Will you need assistance and care?

You could. Many people need this for life. They find themselves unable to do many tasks, such as getting dressed in the morning, climbing in and out of bed, taking a shower or going to the grocery store. These things that they used to take for granted, that were such a natural part of their life, become a serious hurdle. They needed in-home care and other types of assistance for the rest of their lives. Again, every case is different, and some of it depends on the extent of your recovery.

Your options

As you can see, a spinal cord injury can change your life forever. It may not heal, you may need extensive medical care and lasting assistance. These things are all very expensive, which is why it’s crucial to understand all of your legal options.