Spinal Injuries from Car Accidents

Some people suffer permanent injuries as a result of a car accident or other incident.  Money from a personal injury claim is good, but it does not fix the change of life for these people. 

Ryan “Gooch” Nelson is one of these people.  He suffered a spinal injury from a car accident that left him a quadriplegic.  In spite of the loss of use of his limbs, Ryan was able to play the guitar again.  (see his story here). 

According to the story, about 12,000 new spinal injuries are reported each year and motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause.  These spinal injuries can leave people unable to walk and in wheelchairs.  In addition to people who suffer from spinal injuries, many people are bound to wheelchairs due to other medical conditions, such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida. 


Coping with life from a wheelchair can be challenging in many ways.  For Ryan Nelson, he learned the challenges of now moving about in a wheelchair.   Navigating life from a wheelchair is a major change.  Everything in your life must now be adjusted.  Ramps must be erected where stairs once served.   Doorways and halls may need to be widened.  Tables, shelves and other furniture may need to be adjusted for height. 

The first place to look is your home.  Some may run into financial constraints for making adequate modifications to their dwelling.  This may be even more difficult if a person rents property. 

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

More difficult are modifications to places outside of a person’s residence.  The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted to give people with disabilities more access and equal treatment in a variety of settings.  The ADA requires most commercial and government buildings to have proper parking spaces and accessible sidewalks.  Additionally, the law provides requirements for the placement and width of doorways for wheelchair accessibility, minimum width for aisles and hallways, and sign placement.  People with a sight disability may require braille signs on buildings.  People in wheelchairs require many accommodations that most of us never even consider during our day.  For example, we may walk into a building and think the carpet color looks nice or maybe hideous.  But, do we consider the length of the carpet or the type of padding for a person in a wheelchair to navigate?  I have been told it can feel like trying to push a wheelchair through sand on some carpets. 

Society should not push people with disabilities into particular places.  All should be able to seek employment, enjoy entertainment, conduct business, seek medical treatment and freely navigate places as they see fit without restrictions that don’t really effect the rest of us.  Empowerment should be the norm.

Another area the ADA protects is service animals.  These seem to be becoming more popular lately.  People with disabilities who need a service animal should not be denied access to places and the opportunity to conduct business just because the business does not want animals on their premises.  The animals play an important role in people’s well-being and treatment.

As part of his rehab Ryan Nelson was able to play the guitar again.  He found a way to overcome and adapt.  Most people with disabilities are very good at adapting for their needs. 

If you need legal assistance with a disability matter, please call Wickward Law Office, PLLC at 919-710-6691.