As Boston personal injury lawyers, our clients and potential clients approach us after having suffered a virtually unlimited array of injuries. Over the years, we have developed a detailed familiarity with most of them, although even now, after years of practice, a client will still occasionally retain us to secure compensation for a specific injury that we’ve never encountered before.
The near-infinite variation of human injuries that Bostonians can suffer may seem like a somewhat unpleasant topic for a blog. However, we also find that many of our clients take comfort in knowing that we have encountered most of these injuries before and know how to evaluate and pursue compensation for the medical, financial, and social challenges that our clients face while they heal and rebuild.
Below, we discuss common types of injuries that our clients may suffer. We have years of experience helping clients secure compensation in Massachusetts state and federal courts for these types of injuries. In this blog, we focus on the broad groups of injuries that our clients most frequently sustain, recognizing that within those broad groups, injured individuals may have vastly different conditions and outcomes.
Brain Injuries (Traumatic and Otherwise)
The brain constitutes the body’s central processor. An injury to the brain can have severe and unpredictable effects on an injury victim, including long-lasting physical, emotional, and cognitive impairments, loss of consciousness, and death.
The symptoms and results of a brain injury tend to depend not just on their severity, but also on the parts of the brain that the injury affects. Two brain injury victims who suffer injuries of the same scale may nevertheless experience vastly different impairments; for instance, one may retain cognitive function but lose motor coordination, while the other may not suffer any physical disability from an injury, but may lose the ability to speak or understand language.
Because of this variability, brain injuries often prove frustrating, debilitating conditions. The brain can often heal, but it does so unpredictably and often over a lengthy time. Brain injuries can also lead to a heightened risk of subsequent injuries or degenerative brain diseases in later life.
In our law practice, we routinely represent clients who have suffered brain injuries from either traumatic or non-traumatic causes. Here’s a quick review of both.
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when the brain sustains damage from a blow, jolt, or penetrating injury, resulting in a disruption of normal brain function. A blow to the head, such as one suffered in a fall on the steps of a Back Bay home or a motor vehicle accident on Storrow Drive, causes the brain to deform, shear, or twist inside the skull, resulting in bleeding, swelling, bruising, and chemical changes within the brain. Gunshot wounds also constitute a common, tragic cause of traumatic brain injuries.
Other Acquired Brain Injuries
Of course, the brain can sustain injuries beyond just physical trauma. Individuals can suffer brain injuries through oxygen deprivation (from a near-drowning in the Charles River, for example), an interruption of supply of blood to the brain (such as a stroke), swelling in the brain due to an infection (such as meningitis), or bleeding in the brain from hemorrhage.
Spinal Cord Injuries (SCIs)
The brain communicates with the body via the spinal cord, a delicate bundle of nerves that runs through the center of the spinal column. An injury to the cord or the spinal column can disrupt the flow of messages transmitted to and from the brain. This interrupted communication serves as the primary characteristic of a spinal cord injury.
Spinal cord injuries commonly happen in connection with traumatic events, such as car accidents, boating accidents, falls, or violent crimes (especially gunshot wounds).
By disrupting the brain’s ability to communicate with the body, a spinal cord injury commonly results in paralysis, loss of sensation, and loss of bodily function to parts of the body with which the brain can no longer communicate. Doctors broadly classify spinal cord injuries as complete, meaning no messages can pass through the injury site, and incomplete, meaning some messages can still get through.
Spinal cord injuries only rarely heal completely, and they often do not heal at all. As a result, individuals afflicted with SCIs often face a life transformed by their injuries. Injured individuals may permanently lose the ability to walk or to move other parts of their bodies, and may need to rely on wheelchairs and other mobility technologies to live independently. These individuals may also suffer a host of secondary health complications that result from loss of control or proper functioning of their bodily systems. Inevitably, injured individuals will also face significant, unplanned-for expenses that may amount to millions of dollars over a lifetime.
Losses of Limbs and Appendages
Traumatic events can also cause Bostonians to lose their limbs and appendages to amputation, or to lose the function of those body parts by sustaining severe, deforming injuries.
These types of injuries tend to take three broad forms:
- A so-called traumatic amputation occurs when a violent incident severs a limb or appendage from the body, such as when a finger gets caught in industrial machinery, or a limb gets trapped in the sharp metal wreckage of a bad car accident.
- A medical amputation occurs when doctors decide to remove an individual’s limb or appendage after it sustains such severe damage to its bones, blood vessels, and nerves that doctors cannot save it and/or it puts the injured individual’s life in danger.
- A crush injury without amputation occurs when doctors can save a limb or appendage, but it sustains such severe damage that it will no longer function properly.
In any of these scenarios, an injured individual will likely bear the burden of a permanent disability. Living independently may mean relying on mobility devices or expensive prosthetics. These individuals often struggle with chronic pain and emotional difficulty.
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Burns, Road Rash, and Other Scarring Injuries
Injuries can feel particularly traumatic when, even when healed, they leave behind disfiguring scars. Burns, road rash, and other injuries that break or damage the skin can happen in many situations, from building fires in Jamaica Plain to motorcycle accidents on the Mass Pike. These injuries frequently require lengthy terms of specialized treatment at a local burn center or trauma ward, during which injured individuals suffer from debilitating pain and an ever-present risk of a deadly infection. Healing from a burn, road rash, or another scarring injury may also require multiple skin grafts or other cosmetic surgical procedures to repair or rebuild damaged tissue. Scar tissue itself lacks elasticity, which can limit a person’s mobility.
As if the pain and discomfort of the injury don’t cause enough damage, individuals who carry disfiguring scars around with them frequently suffer from mental health challenges. These injuries come with a tragic, unfair social cost that can lead victims to isolate from others, experience depression or anxiety, and develop substance abuse disorders.
Broken Bones, Back Injuries, and Other Orthopedic Injuries
An injury need not threaten someone’s life to cause serious life disruption. Falls, car accidents, and workplace mishaps, among other incidents, frequently lead to fractures and orthopedic injuries that doctors might refer to as minor or moderate, but which get in the way of every aspect of a person’s life. Broken bones, torn ligaments, dislocated joints, slipped disks, and other injuries may heal in time, but they nevertheless cause severe (sometimes chronic) pain and disability. These types of injuries can keep you out of work and prevent you from enjoying your favorite pastimes. Injured individuals may also suffer re-injury without warning, may need multiple surgeries to correct, and can easily lead to a ruinous dependence on addictive prescription painkillers.
Exposure-Related Injuries and Illnesses
Injuries also do not necessarily need to happen all at once to cause significant harm. Sometimes, prolonged exposure to dangerous materials or substances leads to injuries and illnesses that take a devastating toll.
Cancers, respiratory conditions, developmental disabilities, and organ failure might result, for example, from:
- Working in a building containing hazardous materials like asbestos.
- Living in an aging building that contains lead paint and lead paint dust.
- Taking a dangerous or defective medication that has unknown or undisclosed side effects.
- Using or working around cleaning products, paints, or solvents that emit dangerous fumes.
- Living in a location where industrial pollution has fouled the air or contaminated the drinking water.
Exposure-related injuries and illnesses have the terrifying effect of not just harming a person physically, but also inflicting severe emotional trauma. Knowing you have suffered an exposure means living with the possibility that you will develop a chronic or terminal disease or that you will not live long enough to marry or to meet your grandchildren.
Traumatic Internal Injuries
Similar to exposure-related injuries and illnesses, damage to internal organs, blood vessels, and nerves can inflict severe and permanent changes in an individual’s life. In the impact of a traffic accident, for example, a victim may suffer damage to vital organs, like the liver, kidneys, or lungs. A penetrating injury from an assault or accidental fall onto a sharp object may sever nerves or blood vessels.
These injuries can endanger an individual’s life immediately, and almost always require emergency medical treatment. They can also have prolonged and far-reaching effects on the individual’s day-to-day life. An injury to a vital organ, for example, may permanently disrupt its proper functioning. An individual may need lifelong medication, or to make drastic changes to his or her activities or diet, simply to keep on living.
How Boston Personal Injury Lawyers Help Injured Individuals
Over the years, we have come to realize that any injury, no matter how minor or insignificant it might appear to others, can have a ruinous effect on the injured individual’s life, livelihood, and relationships. Sometimes, clients and potential clients tell us that they hesitated to even call a lawyer, because they didn’t think anyone would take their injury seriously, or because they believed they had no choice but to face a future of pain and struggle.
Without fail, we’re happy when people who have suffered an injury contact us seeking information and advice about their legal rights. That’s why we do what we do: to help people overcome life’s challenges by recovering compensation from the parties whose careless, reckless, or intentional actions caused harm.
As Boston personal injury lawyers, we perform lots of tasks for our clients.
Those often include:
- Investigating how our client suffered an injury, and digging deep into the evidence to find all individuals, businesses, organizations, and others whose wrongful actions led to our client coming to harm.
- Evaluating the many facets of how an injury has harmed our client, be it physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially, or financially. Our clients often express surprise that Massachusetts law entitles them not simply to sue an at-fault party for their medical expenses, but that the law compensates them for all types of harm they’ve suffered.
- Talking with clients by phone, video, text, or face-to-face about their legal rights, their life challenges, and their options for seeking relief through legal action.
- Answering clients’ questions about a wide range of legal, financial, and practical topics, to help them make sound decisions during a difficult time of their lives.
- Preparing and pursuing legal actions, often in the form of insurance claims or lawsuits filed in Massachusetts court, asserting our clients’ rights to receive full, fair compensation from those who did them or their loved ones harm.
- Negotiating settlements, advising our clients on what constitutes a reasonable settlement offer they might consider taking, and helping our clients decide whether to settle or press on.
- Taking our clients’ cases to Boston judges and juries to ask them for damages awards that properly compensate our clients and hold wrongdoers accountable.
To learn more about your legal rights after suffering any injury in Boston, contact a skilled personal injury lawyer today.