No matter the form, a person’s life can be severely impacted by an injury caused by another individual’s carelessness. A spinal cord injury, however, can completely turn a victim’s life upside down in the blink of an eye. The devastation that follows a spinal cord injury doesn’t just affect the life of the victim either. Spinal cord injuries can greatly impact the lives of family members and loved ones as well—if you are faced with such a debilitating injury, you may find that those that you once provided for are now having to provide for you.
If you are one of the nearly 300,000 victims in the United States suffering the devastating aftermath of a spinal cord injury, it’s important to know that you don’t have to face your uphill battle alone. The team of personal injury attorneys at Fielding Law are committed to helping victims of spinal cord injuries obtain the justice they deserve for the injury that they never should have suffered.
Since spinal cord injuries come in many forms, it’s important to know the difference in the severity of these injuries, along with the effects that accompany each kind. The extent to which a spinal cord injury will impact your life depends largely on the kind of spinal cord injury that you are suffering from.
One of the most common descriptive terms in the world of spinal cord injuries is whether a victim’s spinal cord injury is “complete” or “incomplete.” A person who has been diagnosed with an incomplete spinal cord injury may still have some feeling or movement in the body parts below the area in which the injury was suffered. A person with a complete spinal cord injury, on the other hand, has suffered an injury to his or her spinal cord which is so severe that it has resulted in a complete disconnect in the brain’s ability to send signals to the body parts below the affected area. The result of a complete spinal cord injury is the total loss of function below the area in which the spinal cord was injured.
Another key difference in spinal cord injuries is the extent of the loss of function that a person faces after his or her injury. Loss of function is generally separated into two categories —paraplegia and tetraplegia/quadriplegia.
Paraplegia occurs in spinal cord injuries that take place anywhere below the first thoracic vertebrae, which is located near a person’s shoulders. A person who is diagnosed with paraplegia will retain full motor function in his or her arms and hands, but will have little to no function in his or her legs.
In contrast, tetraplegia—which is also referred to as quadriplegia—occurs when a person’s spinal cord is compressed or severed in the cervical vertebrae, which are located in the neck and upper shoulder region of a person’s body. Tetraplegia results in a loss of motor function in both the legs and the arms. In severe circumstances, tetraplegia can impact a person’s ability to breathe on his or her own, and can require a person to use a ventilator to breathe.
As a general rule, the higher up the spine a person’s spinal cord injury is located, the more severe the impact will be to his or her motor function.
Spinal cord injuries are one of the most financially devastating types of injury that a person can suffer. The costs of a spinal cord injury are mind-boggling—in the first year alone, the victim of a spinal cord injury resulting in paraplegia can expect to owe an average of over $500,000 in medical care bills. For those who are faced with a more debilitating spinal cord injury which results in tetraplegia, the cost of medical care in the first year post-injury is over one million dollars.
When a victim of a spinal cord injury is faced with figures like the ones listed above, he or she can be faced with complete financial devastation, no matter how financially secure he or she was pre-injury. If you find yourself in a similar position, it’s important to know that hope is not lost—a successful personal injury claim can provide the financial assistance that you so desperately need after an accident resulting in a spinal cord injury. Personal injury claims stemming from spinal cord injuries can provide financial compensation for a wide variety of factors related to your injury, including:
Since the spinal cord is such a delicate organ, surgeries to salvage a person’s motor function are usually very tedious and time-consuming. As a result, surgical costs for attempts to repair or minimize the damage caused to the spinal cord can quickly add up to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even after the surgery is complete, a person who is faced with a spinal cord injury can spend weeks—or even months—in the hospital recovering from his or her injuries to the fullest extent possible.
The medical costs that accrue due to a spinal cord injury don’t stop after a victim is released from the hospital either. After such a severe injury, a person often faces months of physical and occupational rehabilitation to learn how to live as normal a life as possible post-injury. Even when a person is able to return home, many victims who suffer from spinal cord injuries must rely on long-term care such as an in-home nurse—sometimes around-the-clock—in order to be able to live. Additional medical expenses such as wheelchairs and prescription medication further add to the costs of a spinal cord injury. In addition, renovations needed to make a person’s home and vehicle wheelchair accessible further add to the mountainous cost of a spinal cord injury.
A personal injury claim stemming from a spinal cord injury takes all of the above medical costs into account when it comes to an award of compensation. These claims also factor in the estimated cost of future care for those who are unable to recover from their injuries.
Due to the severity of the effects of a spinal cord injury, a person must often miss a substantial amount of work in order to recover to the fullest extent possible. When the loss of a steady source of income is coupled with the substantial medical costs of a spinal cord injury, a person’s financial stability can be toppled in virtually no time. A personal injury claim takes a victim’s lost salary into account when compensation is awarded.
When a person faces a spinal cord injury, his or her chances of returning to work again are grim—after one year post-injury, only 17% of those who suffer a spinal cord injury are employed. Even with this figure increasing slowly but surely over time, the average employment rate of a victim of a spinal cord injury is only 32% at its highest. A personal injury claim which results from a spinal cord injury factors in the slim chance that a person will be able to resume working post-injury, and can compensate the victim for the loss of earning capacity that he or she has suffered because of the injury.
The physical pain that a person can suffer after a spinal cord injury—along with the complete lack of sensation that such an injury can cause—can be debilitating. The majority of individuals who have sustained a spinal cord injury suffer from chronic pain. Although there is no dollar amount that can make the pain of a spinal cord injury disappear, a personal injury claim resulting from this form of injury includes physical pain as a factor when an award of compensation is determined.
The pain that the victim of a spinal cord injury experiences in the aftermath of his or her injury does not stop at a physical level. A spinal cord injury can affect nearly every aspect of a person’s day-to-day life and can destroy or permanently alter the long-term goals, hobbies, and lifestyle that a person used to enjoy. Because of this, it’s not a surprise that the majority of those who suffer from a spinal cord injury experience psychological trauma such as depression, despair, and anxiety following their injury.
After you have suffered a spinal cord injury, seeking the help of an attorney may be the furthest thing from your mind, as learning how to live with your injuries takes so much time. If your spinal cord injury was caused by someone else’s negligence though, it’s critical to seek the help of an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as you are able to do so. Personal injury claims are subject to laws called “statutes of limitations,” which place a limit on the amount of time that a victim of a spinal cord injury has to take legal action to recover compensation for his or her injuries. These time limits vary from state to state, so it’s extremely important to consult with a personal injury attorney who has experience with spinal cord injury cases.
If you are faced with the debilitating effects of a spinal cord injury, the team of personal injury attorneys at Fielding Law are standing by to help you protect your legal rights. Our attorneys are dedicated to fighting on your behalf to obtain the compensation you deserve for the injury you never should have suffered. While no amount of money can bring back your old way of life, the compensation that can be recovered in a successful personal injury claim can help to alleviate the financial devastation that so often accompanies a spinal cord injury.
When you entrust your case into the hands of a member of the Fielding Law personal injury team, you can rest assured that your case is being handled with the care and compassion that you need and deserve. We handle the grunt work of your claim so that you can focus on what truly matters after your spinal cord injury—healing to the fullest extent possible, and learning how to live with the effects of your injury. Don’t wait until it is too late to obtain the compensation you need and deserve after your injury; to speak with a member of our legal team at no charge, fill out an online contact form or call (877) 880-4090 today. You deserve justice for your spinal cord injury—we’re here to ensure that you receive it.