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 richmond injury accident lawyers
at Emroch & Kilduff can evaluate your case and advocate for your best interests; call us at (888) 358-1568
Our Richmond Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers Answer Your Questions
Suffering any injury causes pain and frustration. Debilitating injuries, like spinal cord injuries, can be life-altering. Each year, 11,000 new spinal cord injuries
take place. Because of the importance of the spinal cord in your body’s daily functioning, suffering a spinal cord injury often means drastic changes to your life. Because spinal cord injuries are so severe, the medical costs can become astronomical. The lifetime costs of a spinal cord injury quickly reach into the millions of dollars
. This does not even account for tangential financial losses victims face, like the inability to continue to earn a living. To help victims of spinal cord injuries focus on their care and well being, a spinal cord injury lawyer can help you by dealing with the legal complexities. Your lawyer can help you hold the at-fault party accountable for your injuries and attempt to collect every dollar you deserve.
What Causes Spinal Cord Injuries?
Spinal cord injuries usually result from serious or catastrophic accidents. These often include:
Any of these events can cause a spinal cord injury. If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury due to another person’s negligence, recklessness, or carelessness, speak with an experienced Richmond spinal cord injury attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer can help guide you through the complex legal process ahead and help you recover the compensation you need to help you get better.
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.
How do I file a spinal cord injury claim?
Call us. The legal process by which you attempt to recover damages from the at-fault party is best done with the guidance of a skilled spinal cord injury. Especially given the severity of your injuries, you deserve a lawyer at your side who specializes in spinal cord injury claims. Your lawyer will need to investigate your accident and review your medical records with the help of medical experts. The spinal cord is a complex part of the human body, and your claim may require medical expert testimony to help determine the amount of damage you have suffered and how it will affect your life in the long run. Your ability to hold the negligent party liable for your accident can depend on the lawyer you choose to represent you.
Do I have to file my Richmond spinal cord injury claim soon?
Yes. In Virginia, you only have two years
from the date of your injury to file a spinal cord injury claim. This might seem like a long time and you may think that you can wait until you have a better idea of the extent of your injuries. That can be a mistake. During these two years and probably much longer, you will face countless medical procedures, hospital stays, and time out of work. Attending to your health and well-being will be a full-time job, especially in the first few years after your accident. You will not have time to worry about filing a spinal cord injury claim. That’s one reason why it is vital to the success of your spinal cord injury claim that you speak with a skilled spinal cord injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. If you miss this important deadline, you cannot bring a claim, leaving you on the hook for your medical bills and financial losses. Do not let this happen to you. Speak with a lawyer today.
Can I sue someone for my Richmond spinal cord injury?
Possibly. To find out for sure, contact the team at Emroch & Kilduff in Richmond today for a free consultation. Until we have the chance to speak, here are the basics. Victims of spinal cord injuries in Richmond may have the right to file a lawsuit for damages if their injury happened in an accident or incident caused by someone else’s wrongful decisions or actions. It is not always easy to tell if that’s what happened in your case, which is why it can always help to speak with a skilled attorney as soon as possible after you get hurt. As a general rule of thumb, however, if you think it’s possible that the accident or incident that led to your spinal cord injury should not have happened, or that someone else’s mistake, carelessness, or intentional actions played a role in what happened, then you may well have legal rights to sue someone for damages.
Who owes me damages for my Richmond spinal cord injury?
Every Richmond spinal cord injury case is different. In general, however, Virginia law allows victims of spinal cord injuries to seek compensation from anyone (other than their employer - see below) whose unreasonably dangerous decisions or actions contributed to the cause of the harm they suffered. For example:
- A motorist whose reckless driving causes a crash that leaves a victim with a spinal cord injury;
- A Richmond property owner who fails to fix or warn a visitor about an unreasonably dangerous condition on his premises, leading to a fall in which the visitor suffers spinal cord damage;
- A Richmond medical professional who fails to provide adequate care to a patient and, in the process, causes or exacerbates a spinal cord injury; or
- The person who owns or shoots a firearm that damages the victim’s spinal cord.
These are just a few examples. To find out who may owe you damages for your spinal cord injury, contact the team at Emroch & Kilduff in Richmond for a free consultation.
What kind of damages can I get by suing for my Richmond spinal cord injury, and how much is my case worth?
As we said, every Richmond spinal cord injury case differs, so we encourage you to speak with the Emroch & Kilduff team today for a detailed answer to this question that addresses your particular situation. In general, however, a lawsuit for damages arising out of someone suffering a spinal cord injury in Richmond can seek compensation for:
- Medical expenses involved in treating the injury and the long-term health complications it causes;
- Other out-of-pocket expenses, past and future, that the injury adds to your life, including the cost of modifying your home and/or vehicle to accommodate any spinal cord injury-related disability;
- The past and future wages and income you can prove you lost because of your injury;
- Your pain, suffering, and diminished quality of life attributable to the spinal cord injury you suffered; and
- Sometimes, punitive damages punish the party who caused your injury, if that party engaged in extreme or outrageous actions.
As you might imagine, the amount of money covered by each of these categories of damages differs from case-to-case, depending on the severity of your injury, its impact on your life, the strength of your case, the skill of your lawyers, and the ability of the parties at-fault to pay. To give yourself the strongest chance of recovering maximum compensation, do not wait to seek legal advice after suffering a Richmond spinal cord injury. Contact the skilled spinal cord injury lawyers at Emroch & Kilduff right away.
Can I sue my employer for a spinal cord injury I sustained at work in Richmond?
This is a common exception to the answers we’ve given to the questions above. You probably cannot sue your employer, but may receive medical and financial benefits under your employer-provided workers’ compensation
insurance policy. Those benefits may include payment for all costs associated with medical treatment of your spinal cord injury, and temporary or permanent disability benefits that replace some of your lost income. In addition, you may have the legal right to file a lawsuit for damages against a third party—someone other than your employer or co-worker—if that third party’s dangerous decisions or actions led to your injury. The team at Emroch & Kilduff has years of experience helping Richmond workers recover the workers’ compensation benefits they deserve, and in holding third parties financially accountable to workers for actions that cause injuries on-the-job. Contact us today to learn more.
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.
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
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Emroch & Kilduff 3600 W Broad St #700 Richmond, VA 23230 Phone: (804) 358-1568 Fax: (804) 353-5817 Toll-free: (888) 358-1568