We all have a spinal cord that runs along the center of our body. The spinal cord carries messages from our brains to our bodies. This is achieved through a network of nerve fibers in the spine—so, when a spinal cord injury causes damage, it can lead to devastating consequences for bodily functions we ordinarily take for granted.
Below, Dolman Law Group explores some of the ins and outs of spinal cord injuries—and how our Fort Lauderdale spinal cord injury lawyers might help you seek compensation if someone's careless or reckless actions left you in a wheelchair.
What Should I do If I Have Suffered a Spinal Cord Injury?
The first step that anyone should take following any injury is to consult a medical professional. Seek out medical treatment as soon as you can to improve your chances of health and to help your potential case in the future. If you ever decide to file a claim, have timely and accurate medical information about your condition.
You should also consult a Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer near you to find one that you feel you can trust. When you partner with a Fort Lauderdale spinal cord attorney, he or she can help you throughout the complex legal process of bringing a case.
Dolman Law Group: Serving Spinal Cord Injury Survivors Across Both Florida Coasts
If you or somebody you love has suffered a spinal cord injury, you know that the results are usually catastrophic for the injured person and devastating for their loved ones. Dolman Law Group may help.
We've seen firsthand how spinal cord injuries impact survivors' lives. Many of our Fort Lauderdale clients have suffered devastating consequences due to spinal cord injuries caused by someone else's negligence or recklessness.
We assist victims of Fort Lauderdale spinal cord injuries in their pursuit of justice. You can reach our offices around the clock.
Spinal Cord Injuries and Compensation: An Overview
If someone has lost time, money, or their ability to enjoy life due to a spinal cord injury, they have a legal right to pursue compensation for damages. Nobody can guarantee what compensation for any given case might include—you need to work with a lawyer to determine your own potential case's trajectory.
Here are some examples of damages that spinal cord injury survivors may receive compensation for:
- Medical costs | Including surgeries and hospital stays, emergency medical transport; scans, tests, and X-rays; ongoing rehabilitation and other healthcare; medication and treatment, medical devices, modifications to home and vehicle if necessary
- Diminished wages or lost earning capacity | Spinal cord injuries have the potential to cause survivors to miss time at work. So, if they lose wages due to their injuries, they can often pursue compensation for those diminished wages. Sometimes an injury permanently impacts someone's ability to work and earn money, too. In these cases, survivors may be awarded damages to account for lost earning capacity.
- Loss of enjoyment of life | Nobody deserves to have their enjoyment of life taken away due to a spinal cord injury. But, when this does occur, American courts usually award compensation to help account for the loss of enjoyment of life.
- Pain and suffering | Many spinal cord injuries cause survivors immense physical pain. If you've experienced pain and suffering due to a spinal cord injury, you have a right to pursue additional compensation.
- Mental anguish | Whether an injury causes long-term disability and other problems or not, anyone can experience mental anguish after an accident that hurts their spinal cord. Mental anguish damages are available in cases like these.
If you have questions about other expenses not listed here, you can ask your Dolman Law Group spinal cord injury lawyer for more information. Spinal cord injury attorneys have extensive experience helping their clients recover a wide variety of damages.
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries occur when trauma (like a violent blow) damages the nerves in a person's spinal cord. The damage can lead to a wide range of effects—including paralysis—and may take many forms (which are discussed below).
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center:
- Vehicle accidents cause the most (38 percent) spinal cord injuries
- Falls cause another 30.5 percent of injuries
- 13.5 percent of injuries are due to acts of violence (primarily gunshot wounds)
- Another 9 percent of spinal cord injuries occur during recreational and sports activities
Some examples of negligent acts that lead to spinal cord injuries
Somebody can sustain a spinal cord injury under almost any circumstances, but some settings appear to produce more of these injuries than others. Lots of the ways that spinal cord injuries come about are through negligent or deliberate acts.
Some examples of incidents like these that could cause a spinal cord injury include:
- Vehicle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Sports injuries
- Slip and falls
- Violent assaults
- Workplace accidents
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Spinal Cord Injury?
The person whose negligent or reckless conduct caused the spinal cord injury can be held responsible by the law. Since anyone can cause a spinal cord injury, the potential liability list is pretty long.
Parties like these are often held liable for spinal cord injuries:
- Vehicle drivers
- Product manufacturers
- Construction site operators
- Business owners
Examples of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries can take different forms. Two examples of common spinal cord injuries include:
- Broken vertebrae: Broken vertebrae occur when an external force is applied to the spine. In these cases, the force exceeds the vertebral column's ability to support the load. The front segment of the vertebral body may be crushed and create a compression fracture; when entire vertebral columns break, it is referred to as a burst fracture.
- Herniated discs: This occurrence is also known as bulged, slipped, and ruptured discs. The discs are supposed to act as shock absorbers for spinal bones but, sometimes, a disc's nucleus is pushed out of the disc's outer layer into the spinal canal. Since there's limited space in the canal, the did usually presses on nearby nerves and causes pain.
Watch for Symptoms: If You or Someone Else May Have Experienced a Spinal Cord Injury, Look For These Signs (Call 911—It's an Emergency)
- Noticeable twists or kinks in the neck or back
- Respiratory issues (difficulty talking, breathing)
- Limitation of (or loss in) bowel or bladder function
- Loss of sensation in the extremities (hands, feet, toes, etc.)
- Difficulty walking, balance issues
- Shooting pain or pressure in the back, neck, or head
If you or someone close to experiences these or other similar symptoms, it's important to seek qualified medical treatment immediately. Even people who have been treated by a doctor can present life-threatening complications afterward.
How do Spinal Cord Injuries Affect Fort Lauderdale Victims?
A spinal cord injury can have lasting impacts on an individual's well-being. Even when this isn't the case, most spinal cord injury survivors grapple with acute impacts (financial, emotional, etc.) long after they're hurt.
Some of the most pressing ways we've seen spinal cord injuries affect our clients include:
- Monetarily | The typical hospital stay after a spinal cord injury is an average of 11 days in an acute care unit—and that's not all. These injuries are regularly associated with more than a month's worth of inpatient rehabilitation.
- Lasting disability | Not everyone who injures their spinal cord faces disability, but it's not uncommon. Disability may also come with an inability to work, the need for lifelong care, or years of painful rehabilitation.
The effects of spinal cord injuries often prove devastating and long-lasting. They can range from physical and mental symptoms to a complete change in how someone lives day-to-day life.
An injury's severity and location determine, in part, how the injury will impact a survivor, but:
- Incomplete spinal injuries often cause partial impairment of sensory functions
- Complete injuries may cause complete paralysis and total loss of sensation
The Long-Term Health Impacts of Spinal Cord Injuries
- 55 percent of spinal cord injury patients are re-hospitalized within their first year of suffering the injury
- 37 percent of spinal cord injury patients are re-hospitalized per year in the 20 years following injury
- Spinal cord injury survivors have reduced life expectancy within the first five years of injury
Spinal cord injuries have the potential to alter someone's well-being for the rest of their lives. This is one reason why it's so important for injury survivors to seek medical and legal counsel. When you get off on the right foot at the start, you give yourself a better chance at recovery.
Remember the Florida Statute of Limitations for Spinal Cord Injury Claims
When you have suffered a spinal cord injury, you may not be thinking about pursuing a lawsuit or insurance claim while you are recuperating. However, the statute of limitations is already ticking. This is the amount of time you have to get your claim filed before being barred from seeking compensation in the Florida civil court system.
Under the Florida Statutes § 95.11, spinal cord injury victims must file their claims within four years or risk losing the opportunity to recover total compensation for their damages. It may seem like the statute of limitations is far away, but the more time your attorney has to build your case, the more likely you are to recover fair compensation.
How to Maximize Your Spinal Cord Injury Settlement
If you hope to get the most out of your spinal cord injury settlement, be prepared to file both insurance and civil claims. Insurance companies are only required to pay out claims up to the maximum amounts of their policyholder's coverage. This means if your damages are greater than the policyholder's limits, the insurance company might not cover your damages in full.
For example, if the liable party carried $25,000 in bodily injury liability coverage following a car accident and your medical expenses exceeded $100,000, the insurance company would only be required to cover the first $25,000. The remaining $50,000 you would need to seek in a civil claim against the liable driver.
Most spinal cord injury victims would prefer to keep their case out of court. However, filing a lawsuit may be the best way to ensure you recoup your damages in their entirety.
Dealing With the Insurance Company Following a Spinal Cord Injury
After a spinal cord injury, dealing with the insurance company could take a lot out of you. This is because insurance companies are advantageous. They will go to great lengths to avoid paying out the max on a spinal cord injury or any other type of personal injury claim. This is because the insurance company will lose money if they pay out on your case.
However, you have the right to certain types and amounts of compensation. You can avoid having your own liability called into question, or being tempted into accepting a lowball insurance settlement by having your attorney handle the negotiations process. This way, you can be sure you are not being taken advantage of during this challenging time in your life.
Quick Questions and Answers About Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord injury claims process can be complex. Here are some of the top questions and answers surrounding the spinal cord injury claims process and what you can expect from your insurance and civil claims moving forward.
How Is Spinal Cord Injury Severity Determined?
Injury severity is unique and must be determined on a case-by-case basis. With that said, experts generally agree that damage to the lower spinal cord is more likely to result in paraplegia and damage to the upper spinal cord is more likely to result in quadriplegia.
What Are Some Chronic Complications Associated With Spinal Cord Injuries?
Long-term spinal cord injury survivors may face respiratory, cardiovascular, or urinary and bowel complications; some victims also experience pain syndrome and spasticity.
How Will a Spinal Cord Injury Impact Me Financially?
There's no way to determine how much your spinal cord injury could end up costing you in the long run; according to reported cost estimates, survivors may face several millions of dollars' worth of recovery costs.
Will My Spinal Cord Injury Case Go to Court?
Maybe. Most attorneys work aggressively to help keep their clients out of court and settle through other means.
Do I Need to Worry About Proving Negligence for a Spinal Cord Injury?
Any experienced attorney makes proving negligence a fundamental component of their job. You shouldn't need to worry about proving negligence. Your spinal cord injury lawyer will work with other legal professionals to prove negligence.
Is There a Cure for Spinal Cord Injury?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for spinal cord injury. Many spinal cord injury survivors find that their recoveries are slow—and sometimes incomplete.
Who Can Sue for a Spinal Cord Injury?
Anybody who has suffered a spinal cord injury due to someone else's negligence or recklessness can sue—child or adult.
Do I Need a Lawyer to File a Spinal Cord Injury Claim in Fort Lauderdale?
Your attorney can represent your interests at every level of the process, whether the pre-trial investigation, settlement negotiations, or arguing your case in court.
If Someone Suffers a Spinal Cord Injury in Your Presence…
- Call 911: You need medical professionals on-site to deal with what is likely an emergency; they know which symptoms to look for and how to treat injuries.
- Make sure the victim remains stationary: Even though it's natural for someone to try to get up after an injury, try to keep the person (especially their neck) still.
- Perform modified CPR if necessary: If a spinal cord injury victim is not breathing, pump their chest at about 100 beats per minutes and gently lower their jaw.
- Do not remove gear: If you are on a construction site or somewhere similar, you shouldn't take the spinal cord injury victim's protective gear off; doing so may jar the spine and worsen the damage.
- Roll: (Only if a victim is choking on blood or vomit) Work in tandem with at least one other person; gently roll the victim to their side; keep their neck, back, and head aligned while you do so.
Taking these steps could help save someone's life. If you aren't sure what to do while you wait for medical assistance, ask the emergency services operator over the phone.
Have You Survived a Spinal Cord Injury? Dolman Law Group May Help
Every year, almost 20,000 Americans are diagnosed with a new spinal cord injury. These injuries have the potential to cause serious damage—in fact, they often prove catastrophic for survivors, which has been the case for many members of our Fort Lauderdale community.
If you've experienced a spinal cord injury in the Fort Lauderdale area and wish to retain legal counsel, reach out to our offices today or call us. Dolman Law Group is committed to providing the resources Fort Lauderdale spinal cord injury victims need to ensure the best odds of a successful recovery.
Fort Lauderdale Office
150 E Davie Blvd Suite 201-2
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
Phone: (754) 208-1130
What Our Clients Have to Say:
“This firm is amazing! Very professional, they helped me with my case until the end. They were available and very flexible. Dolman Law Group would answer all my calls/emails and wouldn't hesitate on explaining all of my concerns. They represented me on my case, in which it turned out to have a successful result. Super recommend them!”
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