Dallas Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer
The spinal cord is the long bundle of nerves that extends from the lower portion of the brain to the low back. A spinal cord injury often causes permanent changes in strength, sensation, and other body functions below the site of the injury. If you’ve experienced a spinal cord injury, it might seem like every aspect of your life has been affected. You might feel the effects of your injury mentally, emotionally, and socially
Every year, 12,500 people survive a spinal cord injury. Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) can happen in an instant with the consequences lasting a lifetime. The injury generally occurs from significant blunt force trauma to the bones in the spine (vertebrae) which make up the spinal column. The spinal cord runs through the center of the spinal column which serves to protect it.
Like all bones, the spinal vertebrae (33 total) can fracture or dislocate, and when that happens the nerve fibers of the spinal cord can then get bruised or torn by the vertebrae or other traumatized structures. This can affect sensation and function in all parts of the body depending on what level in the spinal cord the injury occurred.
The brain communicates with the rest of the body through the spinal cord, and then beyond through the peripheral nerves that arise from and extend out of the spinal cord. There are 31 pairs of peripheral nerves (8 cervical, 12 thoracic, 5 lumbar, 5 sacral, and 1 coccygeal) with each pair connecting the spinal cord with a specific region of the body. When fibers of the cord are damaged, brain communications are blocked at the damaged area, and any body functions that depend on the blocked signals are lost. In other words, SCIs are more than just an injury at a specific spot in the cord. Instead, the consequences of this injury extend to the body regions served by the impaired nerve pathways. The full effect of the site injury depends on how many fibers were damaged and how severely they were injured. Severe SCIs high on the spinal cord result in a drastic loss of function that can greatly alters a person’s life.
Should I Hire a Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer?
Yes, and it should be an experienced spinal cord injury attorney. This type of injury claim can be complex, requiring the skills of an experienced Dallas spinal cord injury lawyer. Understanding the mechanism of this injury, the advancing medical science in the treatment of this injury, and how to effectively work with treating physicians and therapists, can make all the difference in a successful claim. A good spinal cord injury lawyer will have the experience, education, and resources to help you. In this type of severe injury case, it’s also very important your lawyer knows and understands the multiple types of medical treatment you will need going forward and how to calculate those damages so we leave no dollar behind when it comes to a settlement or trial. This could mean a brighter future for your and your family. Most importantly, hiring an experienced spinal cord injury attorney can give you and your family the freedom to concentrate on your physical recovery rather than worrying about all the complex legal issues.
What Compensation Could I Expect to Receive for My SCI?
Compensation in these types of cases can be very significant and must be to cover future medical treatment and all your losses. A substantial recovery from the responsible party could be the only way to achieve financial stability in the aftermath of a serious spinal cord injury. The cost to treat a spinal cord injury, and the total financial losses suffered by someone with this type of injury, varies from case to case but can easily run into millions of dollars. The typical victim does not have millions of dollars to spend on medical care and disability accommodations, so a successful spinal cord injury lawsuit may be the only way to secure appropriate compensation.
- Lifelong Medical Expenses: Medical costs are the greatest expenses related to a spina cord injury and can include expenses related to spinal surgery, immediate trauma care and subsequent hospitalizations, rehabilitation and therapy sessions physical, occupational, speech therapy and mental health), medical devices, medications, live-in nursing care. A good spinal cord injury lawyer in Dallas uses expert lifecare planners to determine all reasonable and necessary expense in the future.
- Disability-Related Expenses: You may need to pay for a new wheelchair-friendly vehicle or home modifications to accommodate your disability.
- Lost Earnings/Loss of Earning Capacity: Paraplegia, tetraplegia, or another type of spinal cord injury could put you out of work. or significantly limit your ability to make a living. You can recover the costs of your initial lost wages since the time of your accident, as well as your future lost capacity to earn due to a disability. An experienced spinal cord injury attorney uses economists to calculate your lost earning capacity in the future.
- Emotional Distress and Injury: Losing the ability to walk, run, pick up your children or eat on your own is obviously life changing and can cause deep emotional and psychological wounds. You could seek recovery for intangible losses related to your injuries, such as emotional distress, mental anguish, loss of consortium, loss of enjoyment of life and psychological distress. You could also seek compensation for physical pain and suffering.
If you suffered a catastrophic spinal cord injury, your claim would be worth a significant amount. Even a minor spine injury could result in compensation to cover your medical expenses and related losses. Increase your chances of securing full compensation from a defendant in Dallas by hiring an attorney. The Law Offices of Charlie Waters can evaluate your claim and give you an estimate of what it could be worth.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, Most SCIs are caused by:
- Vehicular Crashes (38%)
- Falls (30%)
- Violence (14%)
- Sports and other Recreational Activity (9%)
- Medical Errors (5%)
- Miscellaneous Others (4%)
Spinal Cord Injury Terms
In discussing SCIs, you need to be familiar with three concepts:
Complete versus incomplete injury: this describes whether all the cord’s fibers have been damaged (complete) or whether some fibers remain functional (incomplete).
Tetraplegia (formerly quadriplegia) versus paraplegia: the former involves loss of ability to use both upper and lower limbs, while the latter involves loss of lower limb function only
Level of injury: the point on the spinal column where the injury isolated, described by region (cervical, thoracic, etc.) and the specific vertebrae within that region (C4, for example).
Direct Consequences of Spinal Cord Injuries
- Either temporary or permanent paralysis below the location of the injury
- Total or partial loss of sensation below the location of injury
- Loss of autonomic nervous system function, including heart function and respiration
An SCI only damages functions at or below the location of the injury, meaning that the closer the injury site is to the brain, the more areas and functions of the body are affected. That is unfortunate given that the portion of the spinal cord most susceptible to an injury is the portion in the neck – the cervical region. The extent of the damage from cervical SCI generally follows this pattern:
- Injuries at the level of C6 and C7 allow victims to recover some degree of independence after considerable rehabilitation
- Injuries below C7 leave the victim able to perform enough basic functions to remain independent
- Injuries above C6 leave the victim unable to perform basic functions (at least with the therapy and technology currently available).
Typical long-term consequences of SCI include:
- Shorter life span
- Difficulty finding and keeping a job; the degree of difficulty depends on a mix of the severity of injury and the victim’s personality
- Loss of critical functions- immobility, bowel, bladder, etc.)
- Mood, behavioral and emotional changes that may be severe
- Chronic or intermittent pain (sometimes in parts of the body which has lost feeling)
What if I Lose My Job?
It is common for the survivor of a disabling spinal cord injury to be unable to return to work. Some victims may be able to train for new positions that accommodate their disabilities, while others may have injuries severe enough to put them out of work entirely. If you have a life-altering injury that interferes with your ability to work, you may have a few options for financial assistance.
- Settlement or jury verdict. Going up against the at-fault party in pursuit of a settlement or judgment award could end in compensation for your past and future lost wages and lost capacity to earn. This includes an estimate of what you foreseeably would have earned over your lifetime were it not for the injury.
- Education or training for a new career. If you could return to a job, but not the job or industry in which you used to work, your settlement award could include compensation for returning to school or new job training. Your employer may have to pay these expenses if your spinal cord injury occurred on the job.
- Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration offers financial relief to people with temporary or permanent disabilities that make it impossible to work. You may qualify for short or long-term benefits through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
You may also qualify for financial assistance through nationwide programs and grants, such as through the Christopher and Dana Reeves Foundation. Working closely with an attorney for the Law Offices of Charlie Waters could help your discovery all your potential outlets for financial recovery and assistance after losing your job.
What About Speaking with the Insurance Company Myself?
In the days following a serious accident, insurance companies may contact you to try to resolve your claim. You may get hone calls from insurance claims adjusters from your own or another party’s insurance company. It may not be in your best interest to handle conversations with insurance providers without a lawyer’s assistance. Insurance companies are not on your side. They will try to settle your claim for a low amount to save money.
An insurance claims adjuster or agent may try to use known tactics to get you to settle your serious injury claim for less than it’s worth. This is especially common in spinal cord injury claims, which are often worth $1 million or more. The insurance company may offer you a low settlement and say it is the best or final offer. It may request a recorded statement only to use it as evidence against you during a trial later. It may deny a valid claim altogether or unfairly delay a settlement.
Fighting against insurance providers who are not treating your claim in good faith can be difficult. You need a skilled injury attorney to take over settlement negotiations for you, so you and your family can focus on your physical recovery. Call The Law Offices of Charlie Waters for help. We will handle communications with insurance companies on your behalf to make sure an adjuster does not take advantage of you during this difficult time.
Reach Out for Help
Spinal cord injuries are devastating and very expensive. Recovering adequate compensation from the persons responsible for the injury is both crucial to your family’s future, and very complex. Proving many kinds of damages requires testimony from experts on everything from assistive technology to the finer points of vocational programs and job requirements.
Call The Law Offices of Charlie Waters at 214-742-2223 for a consultation today or complete the Contact Form below. We handle cases throughout the state of Texas. If you can’t come to us, we’ll be glad to come to you.