Edison Spinal Cord Injury Attorney
If you are dealing with the aftermath of a spinal cord injury, you are likely feeling overwhelmed. A spinal cord injury can change your life in an instant. Spinal cord injuries are unlike most other types of injuries. They require a complete overhaul of your life, and the effects often extend to friends and family. Adjusting to this change can be hard. If your injury was the result of someone else’s negligence, you’re likely feeling a wide range of emotions. These are normal.
At Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, we want to help you get through this difficult time. If your injuries happened because of someone else’s actions, you may be eligible for financial compensation to help pay for your medical costs, home and vehicle modifications, mobility equipment, and much more. To learn more, contact the Edison Spinal Cord Injury lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, for a free case evaluation.
A Closer Look at Spinal Cord Injuries
When you think about the way your body works, two major components control almost every function of the human body, the brain and the spinal cord. The brain generates messages and signals and relays them to various parts of the body through the spinal cord. The spinal cord runs from the base of the brain down into the spinal column. Contrary to popular belief, the spinal cord does not extend to your tailbone. Instead, it ends just above the L1 vertebrae, located midway down your back.
Knowing the anatomy and physiology of the human body, it’s easy to understand how a spinal cord injury can affect normal function. When the cord is injured, it is unable to send signals to certain parts of the body. The degree of paralysis is largely dependent on the location of the initial injury. When it comes to classifying spinal cord injuries, doctors will consider an injury complete or incomplete.
A complete spinal cord injury results in total loss of function and feeling from the point of injury down. The injury affects both sides of the body equally. With complete injuries, the spinal cord is unable to send or receive messages from the brain, hence the complete loss of function. Complete SCIs represent about half of all spinal cord injuries.
Incomplete spinal cord injuries are less severe than complete SCIs in some regards. While there is still a loss of feeling and function, there is not a total loss. The patient may be able to move some parts of their body. This may be unequally distributed on either side of the body. With this type of injury, the cord is still able to send and receive some messages.
With both types of injuries, it’s important to recognize the symptoms. While there is no cure for spinal cord injuries, recognizing the symptoms early can prevent further damage, which may ultimately save you some function or feeling. Spinal cord injuries are usually immediately apparent but sometimes symptoms don’t begin to appear until a few days after the injury. This is why knowing what to look for is so important.
Common symptoms include:
- Loss of sensation or movement
- Extreme back pain
- Numbness or tingling
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Difficulty breathing
The above list is not all-inclusive. For a more complete list of symptoms, click here. If you suspect a spinal cord injury. Seek medical attention right away.
The Leading Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are serious and life-threatening injuries. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center estimates that between 247,000 and 358,000 people in the United States are currently living with a spinal cord injury. Understanding how they happen is a key component of preventing injury. Common causes include:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries in the United States. Recent statistics show that approximately 38 percent of all spinal cord injuries are caused by motor vehicle accidents. During a car accident, the force of the collision can cause the back to violently whip and put pressure on the spine. Alternatively, the spine may sustain damage as the result of a crush injury.
Other motor vehicle-related accidents include:
Athletes and young adults often don’t realize the risks that come with some of their favorite activities. High-impact or high-risk activities can increase the risk of a spinal cord injury. When a coach, other parent, or facility is in charge of ensuring the safety of the activity participants, they may hold financial liability for any injuries that occur on their watch.
Activities at particular risk include:
- Horseback riding
Falls are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries for Americans 65 and older. A study found that the percentage of older adults who suffer from a spinal cord injury has increased over the past several years. The report notes that this is a troubling trend because older adults typically face challenges with recovering. Implementing fall protection programs or providing assistance to older adults can help prevent these types of injuries.
While many falls happen at home, some happen in public spaces. If a property owner fails to properly maintain their premises, they may hold financial responsibility.
Common spots for falls include:
- Restaurants, due to spills, chairs, or uneven flooring
- Retailers, due to wet flooring or misplaced product
- Sidewalks and parking lots, as a result of shifting, cracks, or holes
Most people don’t go to work expecting to get hurt. Unfortunately, thousands of Americans are hurt on the job every year. High-risk jobs include jobs in manufacturing, construction, and healthcare. Spinal cord injuries at the workplace typically happen as the result of a fall or crush injury. Employers have a duty to make sure their employees have a safe place to work. When they fail, they need to be held accountable.
Medical complications or errors account for 5 percent of all spinal cord injuries. Injuries can happen when a doctor makes a surgical mistake, fails to recognize symptoms, makes a misdiagnosis, or improperly prescribes medication. Medical mistakes happen more than people realize. In fact, a recent report found that medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the United States. If a medical error led to your spinal cord injury, contact an Edison medical malpractice attorney at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, right away.
Acts of Violence
Acts of violence account for a shockingly high number of spinal cord injuries. The Mayo Clinic reports that 13 percent of all spinal cord injuries happen as a result of acts of violence. The most common cause is gunshot wounds, followed by stab wounds. While less common, spinal cord injuries can occur because of a hard blow to the back or when a person is pushed to the ground.
Alcohol does not directly cause a spinal cord injury. However, it can indirectly influence many of the above causes including motor vehicle accidents, acts of violence, and recreational accidents. The CDC reports that one out of every four spinal cord injuries involves alcohol.
Living With a Spinal Cord Injury
A spinal cord injury will change your life. Things that once came easy may be much more challenging. Even tasks like dressing yourself or eating may require help. At Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, we understand how difficult the adjustment can be. A personal injury suit can help you recover damages related to your costs, but can also help you pay for services to help you with your day-day-day life.
This may include:
- Housekeeping services
- Lawn care services
- Meal prep services
- Caregiving Services
In addition to assistance for basic services, spinal cord injuries often require residential modifications. Most homes are not designed for wheelchair accessibility. Before a patient can return home, they will likely need to hire someone to complete structural modifications. The cost of this work should be included in a personal injury claim.
Changes may include:
- Wheelchair ramps
- Widened doorways
- Lowered counters
- Not slip flooring
- Accessible bathrooms
Getting Care After a Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries require lifelong medical care. Your doctor will want to monitor your symptoms and make sure you don’t develop any complications. Secondary conditions are very common with spinal cord injuries and can put your life at risk.
Common complications include:
- Skin issues: Because you are not able to get up and move around, you are more prone to developing skin conditions including bedsores/pressure ulcers, rashes, and irritation. Diminished or lack of feeling can make these issues go unnoticed. It’s important to have caregivers check the skin regularly for signs of irritation or infection.
- Bowel or bladder issues: Bowel and bladder issues are common complications after a spinal cord injury. A doctor may recommend medication to help with the issues or a catheter or colostomy bag.
- Mental health issues: Losing your ability to do things for yourself can be frustrating and discouraging. Patients with spinal cord injuries are at high risk for developing mental health issues including depression and anxiety. If the injury happened as a result of severe trauma, you may experience PTSD.
Currently, there is no treatment to return feeling or function after a spinal cord injury. The bulk of the medical care will revolve around preventing secondary conditions and making sure the spinal cord injury does not get worse. This will include regular checkups with your doctor. Depending on the severity of your injury, it may make sense to have a full-time nurse or live in a full-time care facility.
Other treatment options include:
- Physical therapy
- Speech therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Psychological counseling
- Further surgeries
Recovering Financial Damages After a Spinal Cord Injury
According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Americans spend $9.7 billion annually on spinal cord injuries. On the individual level, lifelong care can cost anywhere from $1 to $5 million. This does not take into account any lost wages or benefits.
A personal injury suit can help recover some of the costs associated with a spinal cord injury. This includes:
- Medical costs: Spinal cord injuries require lifelong treatment. This is not a cost you should have to cover alone. Commonly covered care includes surgeries, doctor visits, medication, rehabilitation services, and mental healthcare.
- Lost wages: If your job requires you to stand or walk, you may not be able to return to work. If you cannot return to your previous position, a personal injury case can help you recover past and future wages. In some cases, you may be able to make an argument for retraining to return to a different line of work.
- Pain and suffering: Spinal cord injuries can affect you physically and emotionally. This is not something to take lightly. The law allows accident victims to recover non-economic costs related to their pain and suffering. This may include actual pain, mental distress, and psychological disorders.
- Loss of enjoyment: An injury can make it difficult to participate in activities you once enjoyed. When this happens, you deserve compensation for your loss.
- Loss of companionship: Spinal cord injuries can hurt a person’s personal relationships. A change of roles can affect the way a couple interacts, or a person’s ability to provide care for their children.
Edison Spinal Cord Injury FAQs
The aftermath of a spinal cord injury can leave you with questions about how to move on and your right to compensation. At Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, we help our clients find answers, including how much compensation they deserve and the process of bringing a claim. If you have individual questions about your spinal cord injury claim, contact us today to learn more. And read below for answers to some common questions about Edison spinal cord injury cases generally.
1. Who has to pay my medical bills after an Edison spinal cord injury?
The medical expenses for a spinal cord injury are immense. Spinal cord victims may understand that the parties responsible for their injury may bear legal liability for their medical bills, but not the process of filing claims against such parties and what they should do about the piling medical bills while waiting for compensation.
While those responsible for your Edison spinal cord injury may eventually have to compensate you for your medical bills, they do not pay them directly upfront. Instead, you will work with an attorney to seek compensation by filing a spinal cord injury claim. If your claim succeeds, you can use the funds you recover to pay medical bills and other expenses and impacts associated with your spinal cord. This does not mean that you, personally, will have to pay every penny of every bill upfront, as you may have insurance resources.
Your medical insurance. Your personal medical insurance can provide significant assistance to initially handle spinal cord injury medical expenses. As soon as possible after your accident, get in touch with your medical insurance provider to ask any questions you might have about your coverage.
You might want to ask about:
- Your out-of-pocket maximum. Health insurance policies typically have an out-of-pocket amount you must pay before your insurance will cover expenses. In the year immediately after your spinal cord injury, your medical costs will likely quickly exceed your out-of-pocket maximum. You should ask about your out-of-pocket expenses and what you should expect to pay out-of-pocket the first year and years after.
- Coverage for critical therapies. Often, insurance companies cover a limited number of therapy visits. Since you may need regular physical therapy for an indeterminate amount of time after a spinal cord injury, you should ask about how many visits your insurance provider will cover. Ask about coverage for occupational therapy, in which you can learn how to maintain a greater degree of independence and what activities you can still enjoy with a spinal cord injury.
- Coverage for durable medical equipment. A spinal cord injury victim will often require a wheelchair, crutches, or braces, and possibly other expensive medical equipment to make life easier. Talk to your insurance provider about what equipment it will cover.
- Your copays and deductibles. How much should you expect to pay, on an ongoing basis, in the form of copays and deductibles? You might incur these expenses for years to come.
After talking to your insurance provider, you should have a better idea of what coverage you can expect overall, and what you will have to pay yourself. You can then talk to your doctor about how to manage your medical needs to keep your treatment and recovery affordable for your circumstances. You may want to talk to your doctor or to a hospital representative about other payment options provided by the hospital where you receive treatment. In many cases, the hospital will offer programs that can assist with paying those vital medical bills, which may put you in a better position to manage many of your expenses while you wait for compensation from your claim.
Your PIP insurance. In Edison, state law requires you to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. If you suffered your spinal cord injury in an auto accident, you can tap into it to cover the immediate medical costs of your injuries, including the cost of emergency transport and care. You will provide your PIP insurance information to the hospital and the doctors that treat you after your spinal cord injury, and you can use it until your medical costs reach the limits of your policy.
2. How long does it take to resolve an Edison spinal cord injury claim?
Expect to wait for your Edison spinal cord injury claim to resolve. While an attorney can give you a better idea of the timeline, given the unique facts of your case, the unpredictable process may not end quickly. You may need to wait to initiate the claim process while your medical provider evaluates the extent of your injuries, or while your attorney investigates your case.
Because of the extensive costs associated with treatment for your injuries, the defendants’ insurers may fight to delay or minimize your claim. If they refuse to settle for a fair amount, you may need to take your case through court. All of these may lengthen the time before you recover compensation.
Your attorney may advise waiting up to six months to file your claim. The time to settle might also depend on the state of your recovery, and how long you wait before filing a claim with a defendant’s insurer. Often, doctors cannot give a complete prognosis immediately after you suffer a spinal cord injury. You may be in the dark for some time about the extent to which you will recover from your injuries, such as how much mobility you will recover. You may not know what your long-term limitations will look like, what surgeries and procedures you will need, and what other impacts you will experience. Doctors cannot easily predict these needs, but they can determine your future medical costs and how much you should demand in your claim.
If you file a claim prematurely, you might demand less than you actually deserve, and your compensation will not cover your expenses. By waiting a bit to get a better idea of how much you can expect to recover and what expenses you will incur long-term, you will have a much better idea of how much compensation to demand. Then, you and your attorney will have more solid ground to stand upon against the insurance company.
Your attorney and the other party’s insurance company will need time to fully investigate your accident.
While you might want to delay bringing your Edison spinal cord injury claim, that does not mean you cannot start the process of building up your case. In fact, you should start working with an attorney as soon as possible after your spinal cord injury accident so that they can begin an investigation into your accident while the evidence remains fresh.
Investigation of a spinal cord injury can take time. Your attorney will need to look into who may have caused the accident, the evidence at the accident scene, and any records or information provided by your doctors about expenses and impacts of your injury. Certain scenarios can complicate this investigation further, such as where an employee of a business caused your injury, requiring your attorney to look into business policies or training that could have contributed to the accident and your injuries.
You may need considerable time to negotiate a settlement. Spinal cord injury claims take time to negotiate. You have extensive injuries and expensive medical bills to go along with them. The other party bears liability for your injuries, so you deserve compensation. The insurance company, however, will likely fight to avoid paying out any more compensation to you. As a result, you may have a long fight ahead to get them to come to a fair settlement.
Each round of negotiation may further delay the resolution of your claim. Patience throughout the process, however, will raise the odds that you will ultimately receive the compensation you deserve.
You may have to go to court to settle your claim. In some cases, the insurance company will refuse to settle fairly, even after extensive negotiation. In that case, you may need to take your case to court to resolve your claim. While an insurer can’t avoid a court order for them to pay damages, getting to that court order often takes a significant amount of time.
3. What are the odds that my Edison spinal cord injury claim will resolve in court?
Generally, spinal cord injury claims will settle out of court. Going to court not only delays the resolution and poses a chance that a defendant and their insurer will have to pay more than they could settle for, but it also racks up other costs for them, particularly for legal defense. This makes it more likely that they will agree to settle for an amount you find acceptable, whether before you file in court or at some time after you have filed but before the final trial.
If you are demanding an especially high amount of compensation, a defendant and their insurer may be more reluctant to settle. And if the insurance company can find any evidence to dispute liability, or a legal flaw in your case, they may feel emboldened to go to court. Ask our experienced Edison spinal cord injury attorneys regarding your likelihood of needing to go to court to settle your spinal cord injury claim.
4. Do I have to have an attorney handle my Edison spinal cord injury claim?
Having an attorney on your side can make a huge difference in the outcome of your claim. An experienced Edison spinal cord injury attorney can help with complicated tasks when you should focus on your health recovery.
An attorney can advise you about the process for recovering compensation. Even if you choose not to hire an attorney, you can consult with one to get a better idea of your chances of recovering compensation and how to go about it. Don’t rely upon the information an insurance company gives you to determine your options. Insurance companies are unlikely to provide frank and transparent information about the process, as their incentive is to deny or minimize your claim. Often, they will start with low settlement offers that do not fairly reflect your full right to compensation. Accept that offer, and you may miss out on the compensation you really deserve. An attorney, however, is on your side, and can make sure you know what you really deserve to recover and how to fight for it.
An attorney can fully investigate your claim. If you end up retaining an attorney, they can investigate your spinal cord injury accident to strengthen your case and maximize your potential compensation. For instance, in investigating the accident, an attorney can uncover more than one party who may share liability for your spinal cord injuries, thus leading to more potential sources of liability and compensation. And an experienced spinal cord injury attorney knows what evidence to look for to bring your strongest case against an insurance company.
An attorney can build up a strong case for the compensation you deserve. After investigating your spinal cord injury claim, an attorney can help formulate a demand package and develop arguments to back it up. The fact that you have an attorney alone can send a message to an insurance company that you have someone on your side who knows your rights, and that it should take your case seriously.
5. I think I may have waited too long after my spinal cord injury to get in touch with an attorney. Can I still file a claim?
You need to file an Edison spinal cord injury claim before the statute of limitations runs out. The statute of limitations is the deadline to file a claim in court. The statute of limitations for spinal cord injury claims in Edison is generally two years from the date of the accident. However, exceptions may lengthen or shorten this time, and you should always consult an attorney as soon as possible after an accident to determine the deadline to file given the specific circumstances of your case. Most attorneys will offer a free consultation, so you have nothing to lose by contacting them about your case to figure out if you still have time to file.
You’re Not Alone. Contact Jacoby & Meyers, LLP After a Spinal Cord Injury
After an injury, it’s natural to feel lost and unsure of what to do. An experienced spinal cord injury attorney can help you navigate the legal system and fight for your rights. At Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, we believe in holding at-fault parties accountable. Your injuries matter, and you deserve fair compensation for your loss. If you or a loved one has sustained a spinal cord injury, we’re here to help.
Our Edison office is located at 1929 Route 27, Edison, NJ 08817.
Edison, NJ 08817
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
“I’m really grateful for the settlement my lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers helped me to obtain. I was badly hurt when another driver crashed into my card. The driver was carelessly. My team at Jacoby & Meyers didn’t let the reckless driver get away with it. I’m really glad I made the call to Jacoby & Meyers and would suggest anyone hurt in a car crash do the same.”
Review by: Jose V.
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