Richmond Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers
Spinal cord injuries are often catastrophic, and they can interfere with an individual’s brain’s ability to transmit messages to the rest of the body. Somewhere between 229,000 and 306,000 people in the United States are living with a spinal cord injury at this very moment, and there are approximately 17,000 new spinal cord injury (SCI) cases each year. Spinal cord injuries can happen to individuals of any age, although the average age of injured individuals is 43-years-old, and approximately 78 percent are male.
The spinal cord is an essential part of the central nervous system. It’s approximately 18 inches long, extending from the base of the brain to the waist area. Its job is to carry messages from the brain to the body through a network of nerve fibers. These messages control the motor, sensory, and autonomic functions of the body. A spinal cord injury, as defined by the Mayo Clinic, is damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal. In some cases, the spinal cord may have been completely severed, although it does not have to be severed for a loss of function to occur. In other cases, it may be bruised but still intact. The severity and location of the damage determine an individual’s loss of function.
Those living with spinal cord injuries often need compensation to afford the medical care and other assistance that they urgently need. The most common basis for personal injury claims is negligence. Negligence involves an individual who owes a duty to others to act in a reasonable way, breaches that duty, and causes someone else to sustain an injury as a result of that breach. The law imposes time limits on filing personal injury lawsuits, so it is essential to speak with a qualified Richmond spinal cord injury lawyer as soon as possible. The lawyers at Emroch & Kilduff can evaluate your case and advocate for your best interests; call us at (888) 358-1568 today.
What Causes Spinal Cord Injuries?
A spinal cord can sustain damage from tumors, various diseases, loss of oxygen, electric shock, and more, but the most common cause is trauma.
The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center reports that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injury. Falls are also a significant cause, particularly among older adults. Gunshot wounds and other acts of violence constitute approximately 11 percent of such injuries. Athletic competition is a consistent source of spinal injuries, with about 8.7 percent of all new cases of spinal cord injuries in the United States caused by sports activities. Football, ice hockey, wrestling, diving, skiing, snowboarding, rugby, and cheerleading all have a high risk of spinal injuries, so proper protective equipment is essential for athletes. Even those who engage in casual recreational activities, such as biking, baseball, skating, motorcycling, and horseback riding, should always wear the recommended protective equipment.
People over the age of 65 most frequently suffer spinal cord injuries as the result of a slip and fall accident, which may include falling, slipping, tripping, or stumbling on stairs, loose carpets, bathrooms, and more. Spinal cord injuries may also result from various diseases, including arthritis, osteoporosis, and cancer.
What Are the Consequences of Spinal Cord Injuries?
In the days and weeks following a spinal cord injury, you will probably learn a great deal about the physical and medical effects of your injury. Doctors will perform diagnostic tests to determine the nature and severity of your injury. Tests may include x-rays of the spine to reveal any fractures, tumors, or other problems with the vertebrae. Doctors may also perform a computerized tomography (CT) scan, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, or other tests to detect problems with the spinal cord and spinal nerves. Symptoms depend largely on whether an injury is complete or incomplete. In the case of a complete injury, all feeling and motor function below the injury are lost. If some feeling remains below the injured area, doctors consider the injury incomplete. Symptoms also depend on the location of the injury.
Some effects are immediate, while others may appear over time. Long-term effects may include:
- Pain, which may occur in the lower back
- Problems with bladder and bowel function
- Sexual dysfunction
- Syringomyelia, which may develop months or even years after the injury.
There are several complications that may occur in victims of spinal cord injuries, including:
- Trouble breathing
- Bladder infections
- Muscle spasms
- Bed sores
- Blood clots and blocked arteries
- Inability to sense pain
- Weight control problems
- Susceptibility to new injuries
You need to understand your condition and all possible complications, but the ultimate question is: what will your life be like in the wake of your spinal cord injury? Unfortunately, no one, not even the most qualified medical professionals, can give you a definite answer. Your injury may affect your ability to walk, work, and enjoy the activities that you once enjoyed. Some victims’ conditions improve, but others must undergo years of physical therapy to regain any movement at all. The degree and time frame of your recovery is generally unpredictable. You should plan to face an uncertain future, and you should consider how you’re going to pay for your recovery.
Seeking Compensation After a Spinal Cord Injury
Imagine being unable to perform simple tasks that you would normally do every day without a second thought. Following a spinal cord injury, you may need to depend on others for medical care as well as for daily care. Recovering compensation may not change your physical condition, but it can help you deal with the financial needs of your new life.
Some of the damages that you may recover include:
- Medical expenses. Medical expenses include your costs for doctor visits, hospitalizations, prescriptions, rehabilitation therapy, and any necessary assistive devices. Medical expenses often include the cost of future care, since spinal cord injury cases usually involve long-term treatment.
- Lost wages. Spinal cord injuries usually involve substantial missed time from work. Your damages should compensate you for both lost wages and future lost wages. Your injury may prevent you from ever performing the same type of work as before.
- In-home assistance and necessary home renovations. Even after you return home, you may need help performing all kinds of tasks, such as caring for your child, cooking, cleaning, and transporting yourself to medical appointments. You may need to remodel your home to accommodate your injury by installing a wheelchair ramp or obtaining other adaptive equipment.
- Pain, suffering, and emotional distress. You may recover damages for the physical pain that you have suffered and will continue to suffer. A spinal cord injury can also change your life emotionally, leaving you feeling anxious or depressed. You should seek compensation for these negative consequences, as well.
- Loss of consortium. When someone suffers a spinal cord injury, their relationships may also suffer. Damages for loss of consortium are intended to compensate an injured individual for this type of loss.
- Punitive damages. In certain circumstances, if a court determines that a defendant’s behavior was especially harmful, the court may award punitive damages.
Contact Emroch & Kilduff if a Spinal Cord Injury Took Place in Richmond
If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury as the result of someone else’s negligence, speak with one of our experienced and compassionate attorneys as soon as possible. For questions, or to schedule your free consultation with a Richmond spinal cord injury lawyer, call Emroch & Kilduff today at (804) 358-1568, or contact us online.