The Mayo Clinic states that spinal cord injuries result from damage to the vertebrae, ligaments, or discs of the spinal column or to the spinal cord itself. A traumatic spinal cord injury may stem from a sudden, traumatic blow to your spine that fractures, dislocates, crushes, or compresses one or more of your vertebrae. It also may result from a gunshot or knife wound that penetrates and cuts your spinal cord. Additional damage usually occurs over days or weeks because of bleeding, swelling, inflammation, and fluid accumulation in and around your spinal cord.
If you or someone you love suffered a spinal cord injury due to someone else’s careless, negligent, or wrongful conduct, get in touch with Zimmerman & Frachtman, P.A. today. Our Florida spinal cord injury lawyers have recovered more than $300 million in compensation for our clients. We are prepared to aggressively fight for the maximum settlement you are owed and, if necessary, we can represent you and your rights in court.
What Is a Spinal Cord Injury?
There are a variety of ways in which spinal cord injuries occur; they can happen in a car accident, as a result of a slip and fall, or even in the process of being treated for another condition. If you or a loved one has experienced a spinal injury due to the carelessness or the deliberate actions of another person, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries; it is important to know some basic facts about spinal injuries in order to determine how best to proceed.
First, a spinal cord injury is damage to the spinal cord (the bundle of nerves housed within the spine or “backbone” that carries sensory information between the brain and the body) which can result in full or partial loss of motor control or sensation. In cases where the victim is paralyzed in the lower parts of the body, the diagnosis is paraplegia, while in cases where all four limbs are paralyzed are quadriplegia. Because the spinal cord is responsible for a wide variety of bodily functions ranging from breathing, body temperature, bladder, and sexual functioning, accident victims with spinal injuries can suffer a range of permanent and serious health issues.
Usually, spinal injuries occur when there is a traumatic injury or blow to the spine. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), the more common causes of these injuries include motor vehicle accidents (42.1% of spinal injuries), falls (26.7%), acts of violence (15.1%) and recreational sports activities (7.6%). The NSCISC also documents that spinal cord injury can be caused by errors that occur during risky surgical procedures involving the neck and back.
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes (NINDS), there are an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 spinal cord injuries every year in the United States. NINDS reports that approximately 40% of all spinal cord injuries happen during car accidents (auto, truck, motorcycle, pedestrian), almost 25% percent are the result of injuries relating to violent encounters (guns and knives), and the remaining are due to sporting accidents (swimming pool accidents), slip and falls, and work-related accidents.
Some of the most common causes of spinal cord injuries in the U.S. include:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Large truck and commercial vehicle accidents
- Bus, train, and mass transit accidents
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents
- Rideshare (Uber, Lyft, etc.) accidents
- Falls, including slip and falls
- Boating, ATV, and other recreation accidents
- Swimming pool/diving accidents
- Sports accidents
- Assault, violence, and criminal activity
- Workplace accidents
- Degenerative disease
If you suffered a spine injury in a traumatic accident or as a result of someone else’s negligence, you could be entitled to financial compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, lost quality of life, and other damages. Reach out to our team at Zimmerman & Frachtman, P.A. today to learn more during a free initial consultation.
Incomplete Vs Complete Spinal Cord Injuries
There are two main types of spinal cord injuries:
- Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries: When you suffer an incomplete spinal cord injury, this means that your spinal cord has sustained partial damage. In this case, you are still able to have signals pass between your brain and the rest of your body, but you will still likely experience pain, uncomfortableness, pins and needles sensations, and some loss of motion at the injury site.
- Complete Spinal Cord Injuries: When you suffer a complete spinal cord injury, this means that the brain and body are completely impaired and unable to communicate effectively. In addition, you will also likely suffer paralysis below the site of the injury. Complete spinal cord injuries often lead to paraplegia and quadriplegia/tetraplegia.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injury is among the most devastating type of injury a person can experience because it often involves long term hospital stays, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. Common injuries can include:
- Broken back
- Herniated disc
- Spinal cord compression
- Fractured vertebrae
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Loss of sexual function
When Can You Sue for a Spinal Cord Injury?
There are a few situations where spinal cord injuries can be the basis of a lawsuit. Spinal cord injuries that are caused by negligence—for example, injuries occurring as a result of a car accident, medical malpractice, or slip and fall—require that you prove that the person or company you are suing is legally responsible, or “at fault.”
Another cause of spinal cord injuries may be a defective product, such as a faulty seatbelt or airbag causing injuries during a car accident. In these cases, you may be entitled to compensation from the company that designed, manufactured, and/or sold the product.
There are some circumstances in which spinal injuries occur that may not be as clear-cut, however; for example, spinal injuries incurred during an activity such as bungee jumping or skiing may allow the defendant to raise a defense of “assumption of risk,” which means that you chose to take part in an activity that was likely to cause you harm.
Compensation in a spinal injury lawsuit is designed to provide for the losses sustained as part of that injury. Damages may include not only existing medical costs but future treatment and care, as well as lost income (both current and future), pain and suffering, and the cost of assistive devices, such as wheelchairs and modifications to the injury victim’s home to accommodate the victim’s new needs.
Unfortunately, in most cases, there is no way to reverse damage to the spinal cord despite some major breakthroughs with medical research. A spinal cord injury can change a person’s life forever, and many patients suffer permanent injury. Many individuals face a growing number of medical and care expenses, including hospital bills, physical therapy bills, medication, nursing home or in-home care bills, home modifications, and equipment purchases (wheelchairs, ramps), not to mention lost wages, diminished quality of life, and pain and suffering.
Do You Have a Case?
When you suffer a spinal cord injury, the last thing you want to have to do is make multiple court appearances and handle legal negotiations. The good news is that these types of cases do not usually see the courtroom but, rather, resolve through settlements with insurance companies and other liable parties outside of court.
There are times, however, where a trial is necessary in order to recover all of the compensation that you are eligible for. If this is the case, it is ideal to have a qualified Florida spinal cord injury lawyer on your side to help navigate your trial and get the compensation that you deserve.
How a Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Can Help
If you have recently suffered a serious spine injury, your focus right now should be on getting the medical care you need. Unfortunately, the costs associated with such a catastrophic injury can be exorbitant, leading to significant challenges for victims and their families. How can you make sure that you receive the compensation you deserve to obtain the medical care you need, not to mention keep up with everyday expenses while you are unable to return to work?
By hiring an experienced spinal cord injury attorney, you give yourself the best possible chance of a securing a favorable settlement or verdict. When you work with our team at Zimmerman & Frachtman, P.A., we will handle every legal detail so that you can focus on healing. Our attorneys work with accident reconstructionists, medical professionals, and expert witnesses who can provide testimony in support of your case. We are prepared to handle all of the necessary paperwork, meet all applicable filing deadlines, and keep you updated on your case throughout the process.
Most of all, we are here to serve as your advocate throughout the legal process. Our team will stand up for you and be your voice in settlement negotiations, trial, and appeal if necessary. We strive to ease your stress and recover the financial resources you need to move forward with your life.
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