8 Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries in Washington

Spinal cord injuries can lead to permanent disabilities and drastically impact a person’s quality of life. In Washington state, there are several leading causes of these traumatic injuries. Being aware of the top causes can help Washington residents take precautions and prevent spinal cord damage. A Seattle personal injury lawyer can help if you or a loved one suffered harm in a preventable accident.


The number one cause of spinal cord injuries in Washington is falls. Falls account for nearly 40% of spinal cord injuries in the state each year. Falls can happen at home, work, or during recreational activities. The use of ladders, roofs, and other elevated surfaces are common scenarios for fall-related spinal injuries. Slippery surfaces, loose rugs, and clutter can also contribute to falls inside the home.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle crashes are the second most common cause of spinal cord injuries in Washington. Over 25% of spinal cord injuries are attributed to car accidents each year. Rollover crashes, ejections, and high-speed collisions often lead to spinal damage. Properly wearing seatbelts and driving to the speed limit can help reduce the risk of spinal injury in a car accident.

Sports and Recreation

Participating in sports and recreation comes with some risk of spinal cord injuries. About 10% of spinal cord injuries in Washington happen during sports and recreation activities. Contact sports like football lead to some spinal injuries. But non-contact sports also pose risks, such as diving into shallow water or falling off a mountain bike. Using proper safety gear for the activity can help reduce risk.


While less common than other causes, acts of violence account for around 8% of spinal cord injuries in Washington annually. Gunshot wounds and stabbing injuries often damage the spine and spinal cord. Interpersonal violence is linked to some of these injuries. But a portion also comes from self-inflicted wounds.

Medical and Surgical Accidents

Approximately 3% of spinal cord injuries are caused by preventable medical errors and surgical accidents. Issues like operating on the wrong spinal level or leaving foreign objects inside patients can damage the spinal cord. These “never events” are rare but highlight the need for hospitals and staff to follow safety protocols.

Disease and Infection

In some cases, spinal cord damage is caused by infection or illness rather than injury. Cancer, arthritis, and abscesses can wear away vertebrae over time. Infections like West Nile virus, bacterial meningitis, and syphilis can also attack the spinal cord directly. While less preventable, these diseases account for around 5% of spinal cord injuries.

Birth Defects

Birth defects involving the spinal cord may not appear until later in life. Spina bifida and tethered spinal cord syndrome are two examples. Individuals born with these defects often develop spinal cord damage that worsens with age. Staying active and getting preventative surgery can help mitigate symptoms.

Alcohol Use

While not directly causing spinal injuries, alcohol use contributes to about 1 in 4 spinal cord injuries in Washington. Intoxication impairs motor skills, reaction times, and judgment – increasing the likelihood of falls, car crashes, and other accidents resulting in spinal damage. Excessive alcohol use also makes injuries more severe.


Many spinal cord injuries can be prevented by identifying and avoiding risk factors. Defensive driving, workplace safety, proper sports protection, and alcohol moderation are key prevention methods. But when spinal injuries do occur, seeking immediate medical care can minimize damage. Being aware of the most common causes is the first step toward prevention.

While not every spinal injury is avoidable, following safety measures, using protective equipment, and avoiding alcohol before high-risk activities can go a long way toward prevention. Taking steps to reduce preventable spinal cord injuries improves public health and safety.

If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident here in Washington, the personal injury attorneys at Monge & Associates may be able to help. With offices in 32 locations across 19 states, including Colorado, Illinois, Tennessee, Florida, and South Carolina, our team has extensive experience representing spinal cord injury victims nationwide.

Our Washington office understands the unique laws and courts in this state and how they may impact your case. Our attorneys will thoroughly investigate your injury, build a strong claim, and fight to get you the maximum compensation you deserve.

Don’t wait to get the legal help you need after a spinal cord injury. Call Monge & Associates in Washington today at (888) 477-0597 for a free consultation with our experienced spinal injury lawyers. There are no upfront costs, and you pay nothing unless we win your case. With offices throughout the country, Monge & Associates is here to help spinal cord injury victims get justice. Call now to learn more and schedule a free case review.