Brooklyn Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer
If you suffered a spinal cord injury in Brooklyn that was caused by someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional act, you may wonder how you’re going to handle all of the impacts and expenses that your injury has caused you. You may be eligible for compensation for your injuries. An experienced Brooklyn personal injury lawyer at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, can help you to understand the legal options you have available to you with a free case evaluation.
About Spinal Cord Injuries
The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation launched an Instagram campaign to help people see what life is like for individuals who have suffered a spinal cord injury. As part of the campaign, a woman named Jenny shared her own feelings on the matter. Among the things she wished people would see is more than just a person who suffered a C6-7 spinal cord injury. Jenny wants to be seen as a dedicated employee, an athlete, and a writer. An advocate for others with disabilities from around the globe. Someone who, in spite of being disabled for more than 30 years, hasn’t let her disability define her.
However, although she wants to be seen as more than a disabled person, Jenny readily admits that her spinal cord injury involves issues that others don’t understand. She is unable to sweat due to her injury, leading her to overheat easily. As her body’s ability to regulate its own temperature was damaged by the injury, she gets chilled easily, as well, and it’s not unusual to see her wearing a scarf and sipping a hot cup of tea on what most would regard as a pleasant evening.
She notes that she often arrives late to gatherings because personal care takes a long time and—in many ways—she relies on others to help with even the most simple errands. She spends hours each month following up with her insurance carrier and billing companies. She relies on a personal care attendant and needs assistance being transferred into and out of bed. She can’t reach items on the top shelf at the grocery store. She had to have drastic surgery due to repeated bladder and bowel problems. She is the first to admit that, in spite of her determination, her injury has affected every part of her life.
According to the Shepherd Center, about 17,500 people in the United States suffer spinal cord injuries each year—which equals 48 new spinal cord injuries each day. The average age for a person experiencing a spinal cord injury is 42. Eight out of 10 new spinal cord injuries are experienced by a male.
The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that carries nerve impulses from the brain to the rest of the body. These nerves control both voluntary functions, such as the ability to pick up a glass or walk across the room. They also control involuntary responses, such as breathing or self-regulating one’s temperature.
Spinal cord injuries involve damage to the spinal cord, which runs from the base of the skull to the lower back, near the waist area. The major result of this type of injury is loss of function and sensation below the site of the injury. Most people who experience a spinal cord injury do not actually sever the cord but merely damage it. Likewise, a person may “break” his or her back—referring to fractured vertebrae in the spine—but not experience damage to the cord that would result in paralysis.
The spinal cord is surrounded by rings of bone called vertebrae, which make up the spinal column. These vertebrae are categorized by the area of the spine in which they occur, including:
- The cervical spine, which is the neck region. This part of the spine has eight vertebrae, which are numbered C1 – C8. When damage to the spinal cord in the cervical spine occurs, it generally results in loss of function and sensation to the arms, shoulders, hands, chest, torso, pelvis, legs, and feet. This loss of function and sensation is called tetraplegia, but is also commonly referred to as quadriplegia.
- The thoracic spine is located in the upper back, and this part of the spinal cord controls impulses to the chest and legs. Injuries to this area of the spine generally result in loss of function and sensation to the pelvis, legs, and feet. This is known as paraplegia.
- The lumbar region of the spine is located in the middle of the back. Injuries to this area generally result in some loss of function and sensation to the legs and hips.
- The sacral spine is located in the lower back, from the pelvis to the end of the spinal column. Like lumbar spinal cord injuries, those injuries that occur in the sacral region also may result in loss of function and sensation in the legs and hips.
Spinal cord injuries are defined as either complete or incomplete. Complete injuries are those that result in total loss of function and sensation below the site of the injury. Incomplete injuries are those in which some sensation and function are retained below the injury site.
In addition to a loss of sensation and motor function, spinal cord injuries often present other issues, including dysfunction of the bowel and bladder, the body’s inability to control blood pressure and body temperature, inability to sweat, difficulty breathing, coughing, and clearing the lungs, and chronic pain.
How Are Spinal Cord Injuries Caused?
As noted by Mayo Clinic, there are ways in which the spinal cord can become damaged. The most common causes of spinal cord injury in the United States include:
- Motor vehicle accidents, which account for nearly half of all new spinal cord injuries each year.
- Falls, which account for 31 percent of all new spinal cord injuries and are the leading cause of spinal cord injury in those over the age of 65.
- Acts of violence, which result in 13 percent of all new spinal cord injuries and often are due to gunshot wounds or knife wounds.
- Sports and recreation, which are the cause of about 10 percent of new spinal cord injuries each year, including those injured by diving into shallow water or while playing a contact sport.
Alcohol is a contributing factor in about one-quarter of all accidents resulting in spinal cord injury.
What Are Some of the Secondary Complications of Spinal Cord Injuries?
Spinal cord injuries often create a lifetime of medical treatment to address the secondary complications that usually accompany the injury. Some of the complications one might face after incurring a spinal cord injury are:
- Pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores, which are the result of the body resting in one position for too long. These sores can lead to sometimes deadly infections.
- Urinary tract infections and other complications related to the loss of function of the urinary system, including kidney stones.
- Respiratory issues related to the person’s inability to cough or clear the lungs, and may include pneumonia, which is the leading cause of death for individuals who have suffered a spinal cord injury.
- Deep vein thrombosis, which is a blood clot in the deep veins of the leg. This condition is particularly serious as it can result in the clot traveling through the bloodstream and reaching the lungs—which is known as a pulmonary embolism.
- Spasticity, which is involuntary constriction of the muscles which can be extremely painful.
- Bone loss, also known as osteoporosis, which can lead to bone fractures.
How Expensive Are Spinal Cord Injuries?
The medical expenses related to treating spinal cord injuries can cost millions of dollars. Treatment often includes spinal surgery; trauma care, such as the use of a ventilator; rehabilitative services, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and mental health counseling to treat depression, which often is a part of living with a spinal cord injury; long-term care, such as the use of home health aides; medical equipment, such as a wheelchair; and medication, such as pain-relievers and antibiotics.
Additionally, medical treatment often requires a person to leave his or her home and region and travel to meet with doctors at other hospitals. Traveling farther increases the costs of the injury. Other expenses associated with this type of injury may include the need for home modifications such as door widening, wheelchair ramps, countertop lowering, roll-in showers, stairlifts, and door openers.
In the first year following the injury, those suffering from high tetraplegia can expect their injury to cost at least a million dollars in medical expenses. Those with low tetraplegia will incur approximately $769,000 in medical expenses the first year. The cost of medical expenses associated with an individual who is living with paraplegia as a result of his or her spinal cord injury is around $518,000 in a year’s time. Injuries that produce incomplete motor function loss are looking at first year expenses of around $347,000.
After the first year, costs tend to trend downward. However, spinal cord injuries tend to continue to be expensive throughout the sufferer’s life due to the permanence of the injury and the ongoing risk of complications.
Post-year medical expenses to treat a spinal cord injury and its related complications are estimated at:
- $184,000 per year for those with high tetraplegia
- $113,000 per year for those with low tetraplegia
- $69,000 per year for those with paraplegia
- $42,000 per year for those with incomplete motor function loss
In addition to the costs associated with treating the injury, those living with a spinal cord injury are often unable to work. In fact, a year after the injury, less than 12 percent of people will be employed. At 20 years post-injury, only 35 percent will be able to work. The loss of wages and earning potential can range in the millions of dollars for every person who has suffered a spinal cord injury, depending on how old they are at the time of their injury.
Is There Any Cure for Spinal Cord Injuries?
In the time shortly after a spinal cord injury occurs, there is often swelling present, which makes it impossible to know what the long-term prognosis for the patient will be. Once the swelling goes down, some patients may see improvement in function.
The spinal cord, however, has a limited ability to heal itself, and there is no cure for the damage once it has occurred. The majority of significant improvements to function will occur in the first six months after the injury, though small improvements may continue to be seen for several years. Rarely will a person with a spinal cord injury regain full function.
There is no cure for a spinal cord injury, but new technologies have helped spinal cord patients to function better while still living with the injury. Additionally, advances in the drugs used to treat spinal cord injuries hold great promise—for example, the use of steroids to reduce swelling and prevent some of the secondary damage that takes place immediately after the injury, and stem cell treatments, which could allow the spinal cord to regenerate new cells and may ultimately lead to a cure.
Any treatments, cures, or mobility equipment, or helpful technology, however, will cost a lot of money. If you didn’t cause the accident, you shouldn’t have to pay for these things. A spinal cord injury lawyer at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, can help you recover the compensation you need to find the most independence possible after your injury.
Have You Suffered a Spinal Cord Injury?
Facing the prospect of living with a serious and permanent injury can be a scary thing. Fortunately, those suffering a spinal cord injury in Brooklyn may be eligible for compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.
Some of the items you can seek to be compensated for include:
- Medical expenses related to the injury, including rehabilitation
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Loss of consortium, which is a damage related to loss of intimate relationship and companionship suffered by the spouse of the person with the spinal cord injury
- Loss of the enjoyment of life, related to a loss of the ability to enjoy activities and hobbies that one participated in before the injury.
Call Jacoby & Meyers, LLP’s Brooklyn Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers Today
If you’ve suffered a spinal cord injury in Brooklyn as a result of someone else’s careless actions, our experienced spinal cord injury lawyers are ready to answer your legal questions. Contact us online or by calling (877)-565-2993 for a free case evaluation.
Call us today at (877)-565-2993 and make an appointment.
8701 3rd Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11209