Seek Compensation for Your Spinal Cord Injury
Aside from head and brain injuries, some of the most complicated and debilitating injuries you can sustain are those to your spine, specifically a spinal cord injury (SCI). This is the information pathway your brain uses to regulate everything in your body, from breathing and blood flow to sense of touch and muscle movement.
Whether you suffered your injury in a car accident due to someone else’s carelessness, on the job, or even as a result of medical malpractice, the future complications could be devastating. Consider hiring an attorney who knows what could happen and how to build a case to fight for maximum compensation.
Why Is It So Important to Have an Attorney Represent Me for My Spinal Cord Injury?
Your injury, like few others, presents unique challenges and long-term consequences that can cost you money in the form of medical, drug, and treatment bills, and even time in the form of a reduced life span. Some of the effects are immediate and devastating. Other complications and consequences of SCIs do not appear immediately, so you must think long term both for your health and your case. But what kind of attorney should you seek?
Where you suffered your injury may change the laws that govern how you seek compensation. If someone hurt you in a traffic accident, you’d want an experienced, aggressive car accident attorney. If you suffered it at work, you’d want an attorney who focuses on workers’ compensation cases. In cases of medical smalpractice, you’d want an attorney who knows how to navigate those waters.
How Are SCIs Classified? If I’m Not Paralyzed, Do I Still Have a Claim?
According to the Mayo Clinic, the location of the injury on your spinal cord and the nature of the injury determine its severity. The severity of the injury is clinically referred to as its “completeness.” If your physicians have been using this terminology, here’s what it means:
A complete injury refers to an injury that causes you to lose all feeling and motor function below the spinal injury. If you cannot move or feel a limb or limbs, your injury is likely a complete injury.
An incomplete injury leaves some sensory and/or motor function below the spinal injury. If you can move but not feel your limb or limbs, or vice versa, your injury is likely an incomplete injury.
One of the effects of your spinal cord injury may be paralysis in the form of quadriplegia (numbness or loss of motor control in all extremities) or paraplegia (loss of these functions in the trunk and extremities below the spinal cord injury.
Obviously, these immediately apparent conditions are life-altering and could be permanent. Spinal cord injuries can affect you in many ways. Can you work with an SCI? How will you pay your bills? And who will pay for your treatment and medical care? A skilled personal injury attorney is going to use these things as a foundation when seeking your compensation, but it does not end there.
How Can My SCI Affect Me in the Future?
When you consider seeking compensation for your spinal cord injury, consider the long-term effects you may face in the months and years to come. According to Physiopedia, someone with a spinal cord injury could suffer:
- Neurogenic/Vasogenic Shock – Reported in nearly 20% of cervical spine injuries, neurogenic shock causes problems in the autonomic system that regulates the body. It can lead to a lower heart rate, low blood pressure, and difficulty regulating body temperature. Low blood pressure may make it difficult for you to exert yourself or even stand up.
- Autonomic Dysreflexia – This is a sudden spike in systolic blood pressure than can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated promptly. More common in those with “complete” injuries and typically occurring in 3-6 months, it is commonly initiated from bowel or bladder problems, though it may be triggered by something as simple as clothing being too tight.
- Impaired Thermoregulation – To remain healthy, the body needs to be in balance, and that includes temperature. An SCI can inhibit the autonomic functions that help control body temperature. The particular disorders you may develop depend on the nature and location of your injury.
- Cardiovascular Dysfunction – The rhythm of your heartbeat is an autonomic function – you don’t consciously control it. When an SCI affects the autonomic system, it can cause problems with your heart. From low blood pressure to tissue atrophy, there are many possible complications, again depending on the location and severity of your SCI.
- Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism – The formation of blood clots in the body’s larger veins and the succeeding blockage of blood vessels by those clots pose serious risk to those who suffer an SCI. While the greatest danger may be immediately following the injury, it can continue to be a threat long after.
- Orthostatic Hypotension – This refers to a sudden drop in blood pressure when you sit or stand upright. Most people experience it as dizziness but more serious symptoms and effects are possible.
- Pressure Sores – For those who are paralyzed, the body is not designed to rest in one place for extended periods. Resting for too long in one position can cause pressure sores, which can lead to infections.
- Reduced Life Expectancy – A spinal cord injury shortens your life. While the most dangerous time is the first year, people with SCIs have about 90% of their pre-injury life expectancy. Common causes of death are diseases of the respiratory system and cardiac events.
- Gastrointestinal Dysfunction – Conditions including constipation, diarrhea, distention, abdominal pain, incontinence, rectal bleeding, and hemorrhoids occur in 27% to 62% of individuals with a spinal cord injury. More serious intestinal, bowel, bladder, and urological problems are documented.
- Sexual Dysfunction – Sexual function can be affected by a spinal cord injury, including the ability to engage in sexual activities; sexual intimacy and relationships; reduced fertility; and reproductive health. For men, erectile dysfunction may occur depending on the level and completeness of their injury.
- Bone Disorders – You might suffer from osteoporosis, which makes bones porous and brittle. Conversely, you may suffer something called heterotopic ossification, which causes bone mass to grow unnecessarily, especially around the joints.
- Spasticity – Involuntary muscle movements or spasms occur in up to 80% of people with a spinal cord injury. The condition can vary greatly in its severity, but can cause significant impairment.
- Pain – Up to 80% of people with a spinal cord injury deal with chronic pain. With an incredibly wide range of conditions, types, and causes, you may have to deal with lingering pain.
- Psychological Strain – Having a spinal cord injury can affect your self-esteem and psychological well-being. Regardless of the physical nature of the injury, it results in a great deal of emotional stress.
When you make your case for compensation following a spinal cord injury, you’re making a case for future you as well as the present. Lifetime medical costs alone could be staggering.
Can I Be Compensated for Future Spinal Cord Injury Considerations?
You can and absolutely should fight for compensation with future complications from your spinal cord injury in mind. A serious future complication could land you in the hospital, exhaust your health insurance, and leave you with massive medical debt. We take our clients’ future quality of life very seriously, and push for the most compensation possible because we know what can happen.
Compensation can take the form of a lump sum or a structured settlement. We can help facilitate the most advantageous compensation structure for your needs.
Guard Your Future With Experienced Legal Representation
Our experienced team of personal injury attorneys can take up the fight on your behalf so you can focus on your family and your health. From economic damages due to a spinal cord injury, such as loss of wages and medical bills, to non-economic damages like pain and suffering, we work to try to get our clients the most compensation possible as quickly as possible.