Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer
Spinal cord injuries often result in severe mobility changes that can prevent victims from independently enjoying many of the activities that once filled their lives. Whether spinal cord injuries occur in a slip and fall, an auto accident, or a construction accident, they can leave victims with lifelong struggles, including expensive medical treatments, long-term mobility challenges, and ongoing pain and suffering.
Spinal Cord Injuries: The Limitations
Life after spinal cord injury can look dramatically different than life before that injury. The full extent of a victim’s limitations may depend on the extent of the victim’s injuries: the severity of the damage as well as the location of the injury.
Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries
Incomplete spinal cord injuries occur when the spinal cord does not sever completely in an accident. Incomplete spinal cord injuries may cause:
- Decreased mobility below the site of the injury
- Pain or tingling below the site of the injury
- Numbness below the site of the injury
- Decreased bladder and bowel control
- Decreased sexual function
In some cases, victims of incomplete spinal cord injuries may heal or even make a full recovery. Most recovery occurs within the first six months of the accident and requires aggressive treatment, including extensive physical therapy, to restore as much mobility and strength as possible. Some victims may have decreased function or feeling or live with ongoing pain after the injury.
Complete Spinal Cord Injuries
Complete spinal cord injuries occur when the accident severs the spinal cord completely. Most victims of complete spinal cord injuries suffer paralysis below the site of the injury. The extent of the paralysis may depend on the vertebrae hurt in the accident. For example, if the victim suffers low spinal cord injury, it can cause paralysis below the waist. Higher spinal cord injuries may cause limited arm and hand movement or, in some cases, complete paralysis. The higher on the spine that the injury occurs, the greater the likelihood of full paralysis. Complete spinal cord injuries also often result in:
- Decreased bladder and bowel control or lack of bladder and bowel control
- Issues with sexual function
- Pain or tingling below the site of the injury
- Numbness or changes in sensory perception below the site of the injury
While victims may gain some ground after a complete spinal cord injury, most victims do not recover from their injuries. Victims may remain paralyzed for the rest of their lives, with all the limitations that entails.
Living With Spinal Cord Injuries: The Cost
Living with spinal cord injuries often carries a high financial cost. In the first year after a spinal cord injury, victims with high tetraplegia, an injury high on the spinal cord that causes paralysis below the neck, may face costs of a million dollars or more. Victims with low tetraplegia can expect to pay $769,000, while paraplegia can cost an average of $518,000. Even injuries that cause incomplete motor function may cost around $347,000 in the first year after the accident alone. After that, many victims of spinal cord injuries may face substantial ongoing costs.
Durable Medical Equipment
Following a spinal cord injury, many victims need durable medical equipment to improve mobility and independence. You may assume the need for a wheelchair following a spinal cord injury. A manual wheelchair may cost between $1,000 and $2,000, while a power wheelchair can cost as much as $30,000. The need for durable medical equipment may also include:
- Braces and crutches. Some spinal cord injury victims can stand and walk short to moderate distances with appropriate mobility aids.
- Shower chairs or specialty devices
- Beside toilets
- Hospital-style beds for home use
Many homes, especially modern homes, lack the capacity for someone with significant mobility issues to live in with ease. After a spinal cord injury, victims may need to make several key modifications to their homes to make living there possible. This may include:
- Installing a wheelchair ramp beside at least one entrance to the home, which costs an average of $1,859, depending on the slope of the ramp and the distance it must cover.
- Widening doorways to make them more wheelchair accessible. In some cases, multiple doorways in the home may need modifications to make mobility and independence easier.
- Remodeling bathrooms to install grab bars, handrails, and a wheelchair-accessible shower (one with walk-in access or one that has a convenient shower seat, for example).
Treatment and Therapy
Life with a spinal cord injury can mean ongoing therapy and treatment appointments. Following the six months of treatment, many victims will make only minor progress. Spinal cord injury victims, however, may still need ongoing physical therapy to help protect muscle tone and remain healthy in spite of their injuries.
Physical therapy may become a normal part of life. Victims with spinal cord injuries may also need ongoing psychological therapy to help cope with the limitations that they now face, including the loss of athletic ability or some types of physical independence.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim After a Spinal Cord Injury
After a spinal cord injury, a personal injury claim cannot restore mobility or erase pain. It can, however, provide vitally-needed funds to help make it easier for victims of spinal cord injuries to pay for their medical expenses and cover other costs while they recover from their injuries.
How much compensation should you expect after a spinal cord injury?
A spinal cord injury can cause significant pain and suffering as well as extremely expensive medical bills. As a result, you may expect a significant offer from the insurance company. You will file a personal injury claim that includes several common elements:
- Your medical expenses
- Your lost wages from time spent off work after the accident
- Your pain and suffering as a result of the accident
- Your lost earning potential, if you cannot return to your former job after the accident
That does not necessarily mean, however, that you will immediately gain a settlement that will cover all of those expenses. Several factors may influence the funds you receive from an accident.
- The coverage provided by your personal injury protection insurance. In New York, no fault insurance covers the first portion of your medical expenses and lost income immediately following an auto accident. Only once your bills exceed the amount of that coverage can you include them as part of your personal injury claim. Only if you suffered your spinal cord injury in an auto accident will you need to worry about personal injury protection coverage.
- The coverage offered by the insurance policy. In a perfect world, insurance would automatically cover all expenses related to your accident. Most people, however, carry limited liability insurance. In an auto accident, for example, your coverage remains at the mercy of the responsible driver’s coverage: if he has a low maximum coverage, you may receive only the maximum amount offered by the policy, even if it does not fully cover your expenses after the accident.
Who pays compensation after an accident with a spinal cord injury?
If you suffer a spinal cord injury in an accident, you may wonder who to file a personal injury claim against. Ultimately, you must pay your own medical bills and other expenses. Your personal injury claim, however, can reimburse you for many of the expenses you face after your accident or make it possible for you to pay your medical bills.
To file your personal injury claim, you will need to clearly identify the entity or entities that caused your accident. Sometimes, more than one party may contribute to an accident. If multiple parties contributed to your accident, you may need to file multiple personal injury claims to receive compensation for the full cost of your spinal cord injury.
Auto Accidents: Finding the Responsible Party
When another driver causes an auto accident that results in spinal cord damage, that driver carries the first responsibility for that accident. However, several factors can shift responsibility in the accident:
- A drunk driver over-served at a local bar or restaurant
- A mechanical failure in the vehicle
- Unrealistic expectations of a driver on the clock at the time of the accident
Slip and Fall Accidents With Shared Liability
Slip and fall accidents can cause spinal cord damage when individuals land wrong or fall on an object left in the way. If you fall from a substantial height, you may also suffer spinal cord damage. While the premises responsible for your spinal cord injury may bear the bulk of that responsibility, slip and falls can also leave responsibility at the feet of a manufacturer who produced inadequate safety equipment, a facility owner or manager that provided inadequate safety labels, or a guest in that facility that contributed to your injuries.
If a patient in a nursing home slips and falls due to inadequate supervision, the facility may bear liability for that injury.
Construction Accidents: Who Takes the Blame?
On a construction site, the construction company must follow OSHA regulations to provide a reasonable level of safety, not only to construction workers, but also to visitors at that site. In some cases, however, falls resulting in spinal cord injury might not occur due to the construction crew, but due to an unsafe facility or visitors to the site moving vital safety equipment or labels. When someone else contributes to a dangerous situation that may result in spinal cord injuries, those individuals may also share liability for construction accidents.
If you faced unusual circumstances in your accident that might change the balance of responsibility, consult an attorney as soon after your accident as possible. An attorney can help better identify the responsible party or parties in your accident, whether workers’ comp laws and insurance apply to your situation, or whether a third party contributed to your accident—and ensure that you do not miss out on any potential compensation for your injuries.
How do you choose an attorney to help you file a personal injury claim after a spinal cord injury?
Spinal cord injuries cause substantial limitations that can decrease your mobility, your freedom, and the activities in which you can participate. Not only that, you may find your medical bills mounting faster than you can keep up. As a result, you need an experienced personal injury attorney who will help you handle that claim efficiently. Look for an attorney who:
- Has experience with spinal cord injuries. At Jacoby & Meyers, we have substantial experience with back, neck, and spinal cord injuries. We have helped many of our clients achieve satisfactory results from their personal injury claims, ultimately increasing the compensation they received. We aggressively pursue compensation for all of our clients, and while we cannot guarantee results in any claim, we promise to fight hard for all of our clients.
- Offers clear advice about what you should expect in compensation for your injuries. No attorney can guarantee the results of any claim, including spinal cord injury claims. An attorney can, however, provide a clear assessment of what you should expect, including the compensation you deserve and how long it should take to resolve your claim.
- Communicates the way you prefer. If you need to hire an attorney for a personal injury claim, you want an attorney who will communicate the way you prefer: one who will keep you apprised of the claim as he negotiates with your insurance company. You also need an attorney who will communicate with you in your preferred method: via text message, email, or phone, for example.
Do You Need a Personal Injury Attorney After a Spinal Cord Injury?
Following a spinal cord injury, having a personal injury attorney on your side can help reduce stress and increase compensation: the ideal combination. Contact Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, today at (877)-565-2993 or through our online contact form to schedule a free case evaluation, to start the claims process, or just to learn more about your rights following a spinal cord injury.
Our team of experienced attorneys is waiting for you to call for a no-obligation case evaluation.