Edison Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer
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 personal 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:
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Accidents involving large trucks
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 thethird-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 theAmerican 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.
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.