Obtained Over $1 Billion in Settlements & Trial Verdicts
Did You Suffer A Spinal Cord Injury In An Accident?
A spinal cord injury is a devastating loss that will change your life in an instant. You will need help, at least initially, to do things you used to do for yourself. You may need a wheelchair to get around. You are likely to need extensive medical care, home modifications, assistive technology, rehabilitation and ongoing therapy for the rest of your life. This can create a significant financial burden.
At Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, LLP in Miami our lawyers represent people throughout South and Central Florida who suffer life-altering injuries as the result of car accidents, falls, medical malpractice, gunshots and other types of negligence. If you suffered your spinal cord injury due to the careless or wrongful actions of another, you have the right to seek compensation for everything you have lost from the insurance company of the at-fault party. Our lawyers have developed substantial experience in obtaining settlements and verdicts for our severely injured clients.
No matter how you were injured, we offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case.
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Common Signs Associated with a Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injuries are some of the worst that we see here in our office. Often, victims are permanently impaired below the point of the injury, though some can make improvements with surgery or rehabilitation. If you have suffered an accident, you might not know if your spinal cord was affected.
Most people who suffer a spinal cord injury suffer a degree of paralysis in the affected limbs. However, the symptoms can vary and may not present themselves immediately after an accident. This can lead to a delay is seeking treatment that could result in a more serious injury. In the aftermath of a car accident, slip and fall, or other accident, it is important to seek prompt medical attention. Pay attention to the following symptoms of a spinal cord injury and go immediately to a doctor if you have concerns.
You Experience Intense Back Pain
In the immediate aftermath of an accident, you could feel intense pressure in your back, neck, or head. This pressure is a sign that you have suffered damage to your spinal column. Of course, back pain can have many causes, so don’t immediately assume you have injured your spinal cord. Nevertheless, have a doctor check you out. The sooner you receive treatment, the better your chances of halting any deterioration.
Your Movement is Impaired
Spinal cord injuries can cause complete paralysis, but they can also only partially impair movement. If you find it difficult to move your arms or legs, or if your balance and coordination are compromised, then you might have suffered some spinal cord damage. Also pay attention to whether your movement is exaggerated or if you suffer from spasms. These are also warning signs of spinal injury.
Your Sense of Touch Has Changed
Spinal cord injuries can also alter your sense of touch so that you no longer feel cold or heat as you once did. If you notice changes in sensation, then you might have suffered a spinal cord injury.
You Have Lost Bowel or Bladder Control
Incontinence is another sign that you have suffered a spinal cord injury. The damage might be impairing your ability to control your sphincter muscle, so you end up soiling yourself and often need to wear a diaper. You might also urinate uncontrollably.
You Have Trouble Breathing
Problems with breathing are another sign that you might have damaged your spinal cord. If you suffered an injury high up on the spine, then your diaphragm and intercostal muscles could be affected. Stay alert to coughing or secretions in your lungs as well.
Symptoms may appear immediately following an accident or later. For example, tissues next to your spinal cord may swell in the days after an accident, resulting in pressure on your spinal cord. A cracked vertebra can shift, damaging your spinal cord. Anyone who suffers a spinal injury should be immobilized until they obtain medical attention. Prompt treatment is essential to assure the fullest possible recovery of bodily function. You face the risk of further injury to your spinal cord, which could result in permanent damage. If you have any concerns about the symptoms you are experiencing, it’s safest to assume that a spinal cord injury has occurred until it has been ruled out by medical professionals.
What Damages Can a Victim of a Spinal Cord Injury Claim?
Spinal cord injuries are often catastrophic, forever changing our clients’ lives. After spinal cord damage, you might be unable to move your legs or even your entire body. Other spinal cord injury victims do not lose all movement but are severely compromised. Florida law gives injured victims the opportunity to claim money damages as compensation when someone else is to blame for the accident that injured them. Many clients qualify for damages for the following.
Medical bills are usually quite extensive. A report by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation found that the average lifetime medical care for a spinal cord victim at age 50 was the following:
Tetraplegia (high on the spinal column): $2,596,329
Tetraplegia (lower on the spinal column): $2,123,154
Incomplete motor function: $1,113,990
If you were injured much younger, then your expenses would be much higher. For example, someone who suffers paraplegia at age 25 would require $2,310,104 in lifetime medical expenses.
Many of our clients need to take a break from work, at least immediately after the accident. Fortunately, they can receive compensation for these lost wages. When spinal cord injuries are life-altering, our clients have been permanently disabled and unable to work at all. They can receive damages to make up for these losses. Even if they can return to a lower-paying job, they might qualify for lost earning capacity.
If a person is injured in a car accident, they can receive damages to replace or repair their damaged vehicle. In fact, any damaged property might qualify for compensation.
Pain and Suffering
Spinal cord injuries cause much more than mere financial losses. Being paralyzed is akin to feeling trapped in your body, which is an intense form of suffering that warrants compensation. Pain and suffering damages aim to make up for the physical limitations that you feel as a result of your injuries and can be extensive in spinal cord injury cases.
Physical injuries also have psychological repercussions. It would be unsurprising to experience:
- Irritability; and
Spinal cord victims can receive compensation for these negative emotions. Of course, they can have any mental health counseling and prescription drugs paid for. But damages are available for the emotional distress itself.
If someone injured them intentionally or was grossly negligent, then they might have to pay punitive damages. These damages are meant to punish the defendant and can be substantial.
How is Pain and Suffering Determined with a Spinal Cord Injury?
Florida law allows injured victims to receive compensation for economic losses, like medical bills and lost wages. But the full extent of any person’s injuries goes far beyond these losses. If you have suffered a spinal cord injury, you can also receive money for the pain and suffering that you have endured. “Pain and suffering” is an umbrella term that includes compensation for things like physical pain, inconvenience, and mental stress. After a spinal cord injury, your pain and suffering compensation could be considerable.
But You Don’t Feel Pain if You are Paralyzed, Right?
True, loss of sensation usually accompanies paralysis. But pain and suffering damages go beyond merely physical pain. The inability to walk and use your arms are serious losses that reduce the quality of a person’s life. For this reason, you are entitled to compensation for pain and suffering if you have suffered a spinal cord injury.
How Much Can You Receive?
This is tricky. When you ask for compensation for your medical expenses, you can submit all your bills and receipts for things like prescription drugs. All a jury has to do is add up the amounts. Pain and suffering is harder to translate into dollars and cents. A jury will need to rely on its experience and ask, “How much money could compensate someone for never being able to walk again?” When disabilities are permanent, our clients usually receive much more in pain and suffering than someone who had injuries that lasted only a few months.
Are There Ways to Estimate the Amount?
Yes. As experienced spinal cord injury lawyers, we have handled many cases that have resulted in settlements or jury verdicts, so we have a sense of how much you could receive. Remember, not all spinal cord injuries are the same. Some can get better with rehabilitation, and some only affect half of the body or impair only certain functions. There are many variables to consider.
Accident-Related Spinal Cord Concussions
While most people are familiar with the term “concussion,” associating it with accident-related head trauma, many are unaware that it is also possible to sustain a spinal cord concussion. Victims of these kinds of concussions are often fortunate enough to escape permanent damage. These types of injuries should not, however, be taken lightly, as they can come with significant pain and impairment.
What are Spinal Concussions?
Spinal cord concussions are a type of mild spinal cord injury that occurs when a collision or impact causes someone’s neck to compress, or bend backwards or forwards with great force. Like traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord concussions are usually the result of a rapid change in velocity, following a blunt force impact or trauma, like those sustained in a car accident. These injuries are characterized by sensory impairment and motor weakness, as well as numbness, tingling, electric shock-like sensations, burning in the extremities, and even momentary paralysis. Symptoms may occur in one limb, several, or even all four.
While they often heal without leaving any permanent impairment, spinal concussions do require intensive treatment. For instance, many patients need to be immobilized with a collar or brace for several weeks, or even months. Surgical decompression and fusion may also be necessary if the initial wound was penetrating.
One of the challenges of spinal cord concussions is that unlike many other kinds of spinal cord injuries, the victim may not immediately recognize the injury. This is because spinal concussions are technically a “transient” injury, which means that although the spine suffers a physical disturbance, that disturbance doesn’t usually sustain itself for a significant period of time. Unfortunately, this means that these kinds of injuries are often misdiagnosed, leaving victims at a higher risk of suffering another concussion of the spine, which may have more serious repercussions.
Although considered a relatively “mild” spinal cord injury, spinal concussions may still require ongoing treatment and physical therapy. Injured parties may also be unable to work while they recuperate, making it difficult to stay on top of mounting medical debt and household expenses. Fortunately, it is possible for accident victims to recover compensation for these losses by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party who caused the injury.
When Do You Need Spinal Fusion Surgery?
The spine is made up of 33 vertebrae stacked on top of each other. However, there is space in between to allow the spine to bend. Without these spaces, you would not be able to bend forward or backwards.
Unfortunately, many car accidents or slip and falls end up damaging a person’s vertebrae or the rubbery pads in between. Any damage to the pad is called a “herniated” disc, and it can be quite painful. Traumatic accidents can weaken the spinal column in many ways, leaving many clients immobilized.
To limit the movement of the two vertebrae, a doctor might recommend spinal fusion surgery. In this procedure, a doctor uses bone grafts to fuse the vertebrae together, along with screws, rods, or plates affixed to the spine, which aid in stability. Once fused, the range of motion is limited, and a patient can avoid pain created when stretching nearby nerves, ligaments, or muscles.
How to Identify If You Need Spinal Fusion Surgery
Doctors do not recommend this surgery lightly. Instead, your physician should order imaging tests, such as a CT scan or X-ray, to see the full extent of your injury and identify what is causing your pain. Typically, many patients try to treat their pain conservatively, using injections and rehabilitation first, but conservative treatment is sometimes fruitless. When pain prevents you from living a normal life, then fusion surgery might be the best option.
Complications with Spinal Fusion
This is a serious surgery, and it carries certain risks. A patient will need anesthesia, which sometimes causes problems with patients, especially those who have given an incomplete medical history to their doctor. Other complications can include:
- Blood clots
- Injury to nearby nerves
- Rejection of the bone graft
Even when no complications result, the expense can be considerable. Victims must take time off from work to recover, which only adds to the financial distress an accident victim feels.
Hope For Spinal Cord Injury Victims
As devastating as a spinal cord injury is, you should not give up hope. Medical care options for spinal cord injury victims continue to improve. Today, some people recover a degree of sensation and movement in the affected limbs. With continued medical research, we may one day have a cure. Our goal is to make sure that money is there to pay for new medical devices and treatment options as they become available.
Our Miami lawyers focus on representing people who suffer the most serious injuries in accidents, such as paralysis. Since we don’t handle minor injury cases, this enables our lawyers and staff to spend more time with the clients we represent. We are here to provide you with personal, responsive service at every stage of your case. We make home and hospital visits, and we will be available 24-7 to answer your questions and concerns.
Full-Service Personal Injury Representation
Spinal cord injuries are very expensive. Patients often need hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical care throughout their lifetime. If you suspect you have injured your spinal cord, go to a doctor immediately. Then, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in Miami. At DDRB, we offer a complimentary consultation to those who call 786-420-4785. Let us take a look at your case and see if you have a valid claim against someone for compensation. Since we work on a contingency fee, you owe no attorneys’ fees unless and until we recover compensation from those responsible for your injury.
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