If someone else's carelessness or negligence caused your spinal cord injury somewhere in San Antonio, you deserve to work with a legal professional who can help defend your rights and pursue appropriate compensation on your behalf. A San Antonio spinal cord injury lawyer at Dolman Law Group can help you pursue justice and compensation following your injury.
Spinal cord injuries often prove catastrophic. The spinal cord cannot repair itself after it's damaged or hurt. Because of this, many spinal cord injury survivors suffer lifelong consequences related to their injuries. Some people even lose the ability to perform physical tasks—such as walking or performing self-care tasks—or feel sensations.
Dolman Law Group: Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys
If you or someone you love suffered a spinal cord injury, you don't need to face recovery alone. A spinal cord injury attorney can play an integral part in your physical, mental, financial, and legal healing. We may be able to help you get the money you need to pay for care, cover lost income, and more.
Our lawyers have extensive experience handling spinal cord injury cases just like yours. We work closely with our clients to build strong cases that win or settle. If you'd like to speak to one of our attorneys, you can take advantage of a free initial consultation. We can answer your questions about the strength of your case, your legal options, our services, and our fees.
What Makes the Spinal Cord So Delicate?
Your spine consists of the vertebrae that form your backbone. At the center, a hollow space runs from the top to the bottom, known as the spinal canal. Inside that canal is the spinal cord, a large collection of nerves. The spinal cord runs from just above the waist to the base of the brain.
The human body cannot function without a spinal cord. The essential processes we need to survive (like breathing and our hearts beating) rely on the spinal cord. So do movement and sensation. For this reason, function in the body below the level of a spinal cord injury may be poor or non-existent.
- Dolman Law Group: Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys
- What Makes the Spinal Cord So Delicate?
- Signs of Spinal Cord Injuries
- Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
- Medical Malpractice: One of the Most Dangerous Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
- Two Types of Spinal Cord Injuries: Broken Vertebrae and Herniated Discs
- Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries
- Spinal Cord Injury Terms and Definitions
- Who Can I Hold Liable for a Spinal Cord Injury?
- Surgery After a Spinal Cord Injury
- Recovering Damages After a Spinal Cord Injury
- Frequently Asked Questions About Spinal Cord Injuries
- A San Antonio Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Can Help You
- Dolman Law Group Can Help if You Suffered a Spinal Cord Injury
Signs of Spinal Cord Injuries
If you think you or someone around you may have suffered a spinal cord injury, seek medical care as soon as possible. You can keep the injured person safe by having them remain still. Contact first responders and allow paramedics to immobilize the person before transporting them to the hospital. This is the best way to prevent further injuries.
Look for these signs of a spinal cord injury if you believe someone is hurt:
- Extreme pain or pressure in the neck or back
- Loss of sensation in the extremities
- Difficulty breathing or talking
- Visible kinks or twists in the neck or back
What to Do If You or Someone Near You Has Suffered a Spinal Cord Injury
There's no doubt that if someone has experienced a spinal cord injury, they need emergent medical attention. Once the victim is stable and their condition is no longer life-threatening, second or third opinions can help solidify a diagnosis and create a robust treatment plan.
If someone near you is injured, keep them still if there's a chance they've experienced a spinal cord injury. Call 911 and get help immediately.
We also recommend getting to a doctor as soon as possible for another reason: it can benefit your legal case. Seeking medical care right after an injury helps show that you are proactive in your efforts to recover. It also creates medical documents—information about your injuries and treatment that can be integral to your legal case.
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Unfortunately, thousands of people suffer spinal cord injuries due to others' negligence and recklessness every year. Many of these catastrophic injuries occur in personal injury accidents and incidents. The most common causes of spinal cord injuries in the United States are:
- Vehicle accidents, which cause roughly 40 percent of spinal cord injuries
- Falls, which cause about 30 percent of spinal cord injuries
- Acts of violence, which cause 13 percent of spinal cord injuries
- Sports and recreational activities, which cause about 10 percent of spinal cord injuries
Lots of different accidents can cause spinal cord injuries. For example:
- Car accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
These personal injury incidents also cause spinal cord injuries:
- Workplace accidents
- Defective products
- Medical malpractice
- Sports injuries
- Slip and falls
Medical Malpractice: One of the Most Dangerous Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
We expect medical professionals to keep us safe. Any spinal cord injury can prove devastating, but when someone you trust causes your injuries, it can bring your entire world crashing down around you.
Medical malpractice occurs when healthcare providers fail to care for patients properly. Sometimes malpractice is the result of negligence. Other times, doctors may intentionally take actions that harm patients. Treatment, diagnosis, and aftercare are all integral parts of the medical process—and they all present opportunities for malpractice.
If you wish to file a spinal cord injury medical malpractice lawsuit, your lawyer must prove:
- Your doctor violated a standard of medical care
- Negligence or recklessness caused your spinal cord injury
- The spinal cord injury resulted in financial damages
Dolman Law Group handles medical malpractice claims and lawsuits in San Antonio. We can review your case and discuss your options with you for free today during your free consultation with our team.
Two Types of Spinal Cord Injuries: Broken Vertebrae and Herniated Discs
Not all back injuries threaten the spinal column, and some that do are not a direct result of the spinal cord getting torn or cut. Both broken vertebrae and herniated discs can occur without jeopardizing the spinal cord, or they can lead to spinal cord injuries and paralysis. Each injury is different, and each victim is affected in unique ways.
Vertebrae break when the spine suffers too much external force. Injuries that break the entire vertebral column are called burst fractures. Injuries that crush the front portion of someone's vertebral body are called compression fractures.
Herniated discs are commonly called ruptured, slipped, and bulging discs. All of these refer to the same injury.
We have discs in our spines that protect our spinal bones. The discs absorb shock. Each disc is comprised of a nucleus and an outer layer. Improperly absorbed shock can push the nucleus out of the outer layer. This causes the nucleus to press into the spinal canal and push on nerves nearby. The nerves become compressed and cause pain.
Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries can be complete or incomplete. A complete injury involves the loss of all function, sensation, and movement below the level of the injury. If a person still has some feeling or movement below their spinal cord injury, it is called an incomplete spinal cord injury. These injuries range greatly in severity. Many of them, however, are frequently associated with specific complications. Here are some examples:
- Anterior cord syndrome: Associated with impaired senses of touch and pain; occurs when the front of the spinal cord is damaged
- Posterior cord syndrome: Occurs when the back of the spinal cord is damaged; causes poor coordination
- Central cord syndrome: Linked to loss of function in the arms; occurs when the center of the spinal cord is damaged
- Brown-Séquard syndrome: Occurs when one side of the spinal cord is damaged; causes preserved sensation and loss of movement on one side of the body while causing loss of sensation and preserved movement on the other side of the body
Spinal Cord Injury Terms and Definitions
Many unique terms are associated with spinal cord injuries. We'd like to help define some of them.
- Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF): Involves the placement of bone or cages between vertebrae (using an anterior approach)
- Anterior: Refers to the frontal surface of the body
- Autograft: Refers to bone taken from the patient to be used as a graft; autografts are generally taken from the hip.
- Bone Graft: One option for mending and fusing the spine; bone needs to be moved from another part of the body (autograft) or used from an outside source (allograft).
- Cervical: the neck area
- Discectomy: The process by which the damaged part of a disc is removed surgically
- Fusion: Growth of bone where it does not normally grow, often as the result of a surgery to “fuse” two or more vertebrae
- Ligaments: Bands of fibrous tissue that connect bones and cartilage and help strengthen bone joints; the spine is surrounded by ligaments on all sides.
- Lumbar: The lower back
- Morbidity: Complications and postoperative pain following spinal cord surgery
Who Can I Hold Liable for a Spinal Cord Injury?
Any person or entity that causes a spinal cord injury through carelessness or neglect may be held liable for the injury. That means you may hold many parties liable for a spinal cord injury. You already read above that spinal cord injuries often stem from accidents; plenty of people can cause them.
Some parties commonly found liable for spinal cord injuries include:
- Vehicle drivers
- Vehicle manufacturers
- Product manufacturers
- Construction site workers or owners
- Business owners
At Dolman Law Group, we can identify the liable parties responsible for our client's injuries and build a case against them. Then, we can take care of their insurance claim or lawsuit. This allows our clients to focus on their rehabilitation and healing.
Surgery After a Spinal Cord Injury
The more serious a spinal cord injury, the more likely that one or more surgeries may be needed to treat the area. Surgery is especially common after injuries in the cervical (C1-8) area. Surgery can stabilize the spine and allow for the best possible recovery. The surgery a person may require will depend on their specific injuries and needs.
This surgery removes tissue or fluid pressing on someone's spinal cord. Usually, it helps treat herniated discs and spinal stenosis.
Disc Replacement Surgery
Sometimes, disc replacement surgery is necessary after a disc is injured. The process relies on an artificial disc. The surgery can help spinal cord injury survivors regain some level of function.
Anterior Cervical Discectomy
Medical professionals use anterior cervical discectomies to remove herniated material from nerve tissues. Some spinal cord injury survivors experience immediate relief from pain after this surgery. The surgery is very simple; a surgeon only needs to make a small incision in the front of the neck to remove painful tissue and growth.
Thoracic Fusion Surgery
Thoracic fusion surgery can take two different forms:
- Anterior thoracic fusion surgery: Completed via an incision in the chest; this allows surgeons to see the front of the spinal column and figure out which vertebrae are broken
- Posterior thoracic fusion surgery: Completed via an incision in the back; surgeons use metal rods and screws to help align patients' vertebrae
Posterior Surgical Spinal Fusion
When a patient receives a posterior surgical spinal fusion, they will have a bone graft taken from one part of their body. Doctors then place the graft on the back of a broken vertebra.
Recovering Damages After a Spinal Cord Injury
Some of the most common questions we receive about spinal cord injuries concern compensation. Many people have questions about which damages they can receive compensation for after they are hurt.
If someone experiences a spinal cord injury because of another person's recklessness or negligence, they may have the right to collect compensation for their losses. It's difficult to predict which damages might play a part in your specific case; many factors influence an injury survivor's right to compensation.
That said, some damages frequently appear in spinal cord injury cases. You may pursue one or a variety of these damages alongside your San Antonio spinal cord injury lawyer:
- Medical bills: Past, present, and projected medical bills associated with the spinal cord injury may all be compensable; surgeries, prescriptions, therapies, emergency medical transport and treatment, and more may qualify.
- Pain and suffering: You don't deserve to experience pain because of someone else's careless or reckless decisions. Compensation may be available to help account for some of the physical suffering of a spinal cord injury. No amount of money could ever make up for what you've lived through, but the justice system may provide compensation to help.
- Lost wages: A spinal cord injury often means time away from work. Even if you only spend a short time away from your job, it could have significant effects on your finances—and someone with a spinal cord injury will likely miss much more than just a day or two from work. You can work with your attorney to pursue compensation for lost wages.
- Diminished earning capacity: What if lost wages escalate to another level? What if the accident permanently diminished your ability to earn money? Luckily, there may be compensation available to account for this. Diminished earning capacity damages can be extremely helpful to spinal cord injury survivors who are grappling with lower earning potential after their accident.
- Mental anguish: Many spinal cord injuries cause long-lasting complications, and even when they don't, the mental toll of these injuries is usually high. Mental anguish damages help lessen the mental load of surviving an accident.
- Disability: For some people, a spinal cord injury means lifelong disability. You don't deserve to climb that mountain alone. A lawyer can help you pursue damages to account for your disability and related expenses.
Plenty of spinal cord injuries cause damages not accounted for here. If you have questions about expenses or compensation following your spinal cord injury, we encourage you to reach out to our team of San Antonio spinal cord injury attorneys for help.
Frequently Asked Questions About Spinal Cord Injuries
Can Spinal Cord Injuries Be Cured?
No. Doctors cannot cure spinal cord injuries yet. While great improvement is possible through rehabilitation, therapy, and adaptive equipment, many spinal cord injury survivors experience lifelong consequences of their injuries. Recovering from a spinal cord injury often proves slow-going and challenging.
Can I Sue for a Spinal Cord Injury?
Anybody who suffers a spinal cord injury because of another person's (or entity's) neglect or recklessness has the right to sue. If you have questions about whether you can sue for your injury, a lawyer from Dolman Law Group can help. We can also help you identify the liable party or parties and take legal action in your case.
How does Medical Evaluation for Spinal Cord Injuries Work?
If there's a chance you may have injured your spinal cord, a medical professional can help diagnose the injury. Many are diagnosed in emergency departments of trauma centers. The person is evaluated by a paramedic on the scene who determines they could have a spinal cord injury. Alternatively, you may visit the hospital after an injury like this.
Doctors look for signs like these when there's a possibility someone has experienced a spinal cord injury:
- Low muscle strength or paralysis
- Loss of sensation in the limbs
- Abnormal muscle contractions
- Fractured or dislocated vertebrae
If you or someone around you displays any of these symptoms of spinal cord injury, seek medical care.
Will I Be Paralyzed If I Break My Back or Neck?
Paralysis will not occur if you break your neck or back but do not damage the nerves in your spinal cord. Paralysis only occurs when there is an injury to the spinal cord.
- Lower spinal cord damage is more likely to lead to paraplegia
- Upper spinal cord damage is more likely to lead to quadriplegia
Do You Break Your Spinal Cord When You Break Your Neck or Back?
Not necessarily. It is possible to break your back or neck without sustaining a spinal cord injury. Sometimes, only the vertebrae surrounding the spinal cord break, and the spinal cord is left unaffected.
Someone Injured Their Spinal Cord; What Should I Do?
If you believe someone may have suffered a spinal cord injury, call 911 as soon as possible. Many spinal cord injuries can worsen without immediate treatment; a medical professional needs to see and treat the injury. After you've called 911:
- Make sure the injury victim stays stationary: Moving after a spinal cord injury often causes more severe injuries. Spinal cord injury victims need to remain aligned and stationary after being hurt.
- Do not remove protective gear: Some spinal cord injury victims are wearing protective gear (such as a helmet) when their injuries occur. This is especially common during certain recreational activities and at worksites. If someone is wearing protective gear at the time of their injury, do not remove the gear. Removing gear may cause additional injury to the spine.
- Perform modified CPR if necessary: If someone experiences a spinal cord injury and is not breathing, you may need to perform modified CPR. Lower the injured person's jaw gently and pump their chest at about 100 beats per minute.
- Roll the victim if they are choking (on blood, vomit, etc.): Gently roll the victim onto their side if they are choking. This is best done as a pair with another able-bodied person. Keep the injured person's neck, back, and head aligned throughout the move.
How Many Levels of Spinal Cord Injury Are There?
Spinal cord injuries are categorized into eight levels. Each can have a unique impact on the body.
The level of a spinal cord injury refers to which vertebrae are injured in someone's back. C1 injuries, for example, affect the first cervical vertebra. This is the first vertebra in the neck.
Vertebrae with higher numbers are lower in the back.
- Level C1-3. Level C1-3 spinal cord injuries are often the most impactful. They are considered the highest level of spinal cord injury. Many C1-3 injuries cause total paralysis of the trunk, legs, and arms. People who survive C1-3 injuries may require mechanical ventilation or 24-hour assistance.
- Level C4. When someone experiences a level C4 spinal cord injury, full-body paralysis follows. The main difference between C1-3 and C4 injuries is that C4 injuries leave behind some shoulder and neck mobility. In most cases, people injured at C4 can breathe without a ventilator.
- Level C5. Level C5 injuries usually cause paralysis of the trunk, legs, hands, and wrists. People injured at C5 can raise their arms and bend their elbows, but that's often the extent of their mobility. C5 injury survivors commonly need assistance with daily living, but they can live relatively independently in power wheelchairs.
- Level C6. If someone is injured at C6, they experience reduced wrist flexion and hand movement. Paralysis usually affects the trunk, legs, and hands. Some people with C6 injuries also experience weakened breathing because the diaphragm is affected.
- Level C7/8. Most C7/8 injuries result in leg and trunk paralysis. For the majority of C7/8 injury survivors, hand and arm dexterity remain. They may need some assistance with difficult tasks; daily living tasks, on the other hand, are generally doable.
- Level T1-5. T1-5 injuries usually cause lower trunk paralysis. Many survivors can walk through the use of braces. It is common for someone's vital capacity to be impaired after a T1-5 injury.
- Level T6-12. People with T6-12 injuries suffer leg paralysis but maintain good trunk stability. This means they can often use standing frames or braces to walk. Injury survivors can also cough productively and, in many cases, drive modified cars.
- Level L1-S5. When someone is hurt at L1-S5, they may lose some function in their hips and legs. Special equipment can help survivors manage their bladders and bowels alone. Wheelchairs and leg braces are both common after these injuries.
How Is Spinal Cord Injury Severity Determined?
Remember: no two spinal cord injuries are the same. It's difficult to determine how “severe” any given injury is because spinal cord injuries usually have profound effects on the body. Spinal cord injury severity is determined on a case-by-case basis.
What Happens If I Get a Spinal Cord Injury on the Job?
If you suffer a spinal cord injury at work, your path forward will look different from someone who experienced their injury in a car or similar accident.
You may file a workers' compensation claim. The best way to find out is to work with a San Antonio spinal cord injury lawyer who can help with your case. Workers' compensation helps people injured on the job pay for medical expenses and lost wages.
Do I Have to Work with a Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer to File a Claim?
You are not legally required to hire a lawyer. However, working with a San Antonio spinal cord injury lawyer can greatly benefit your case. When you partner with an attorney, they will educate you throughout the legal process. They'll protect your best interests every step of the way.
There's a reason most people choose to work with lawyers to bring cases after a catastrophic injury. An attorney could help your case more than you think. If nothing else, we recommend taking advantage of free consultations with lawyers to find out more about your circumstances.
Is it Okay to Talk to Insurance Adjusters After a Spinal Cord Injury?
Ideally not. We recommend avoiding discussions with insurance adjusters until you can retain a lawyer. This is because insurance companies may try to take advantage of injury survivors; it may be difficult to determine what constitutes a fair offer on your own.
If you've already talked to insurance adjusters, you don't need to panic. You should minimize your contact with them until you have a personal injury attorney. As long as you haven't agreed to a settlement already, you may still have a case.
What Can I Do If My Loved One Died After a Spinal Cord Injury?
If you lost someone you love to a spinal cord injury, you may bring a wrongful death lawsuit on your family's behalf. We recommend asking a lawyer for more information. Luckily, many spinal cord injury lawyers also have experience litigating wrongful death cases.
A San Antonio Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Can Help You
Although you aren't legally required to work with a lawyer to bring a spinal cord injury case, an attorney can be a big help in pursuing justice. Spinal cord injury lawyers have extensive experience handling cases just like yours—they can answer your questions and tailor their services to your unique needs.
Your Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Will Try to Prove Negligence
Personal injury cases usually center around negligence or recklessness. When a liable party acts negligently or recklessly, you may be able to hold them responsible for their actions if they hurt you. You must prove negligence for your case to hold water.
It's often difficult to prove negligence in a case—even when it seems like it's obvious who was responsible for your injuries. That's why we always recommend spinal cord injury survivors work with a lawyer. Your attorney will use material evidence, witness accounts, and advice from industry experts to build your case.
How Do I Choose the Right Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer for My Case?
We tell potential clients that they should meet with several spinal cord injury attorneys in San Antonio to determine which one fits their needs best. You can take advantage of free initial consultations to speak to different lawyers about your circumstances.
Here's some more advice for choosing the best spinal cord injury lawyer for your case:
- Find a lawyer with experience litigating cases like yours.
- Select an attorney who is knowledgeable and compassionate.
- Choose a lawyer who uses connections to professionals in other fields (like the sports or auto industry) for support in your case if necessary.
Why Should I Hire a Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer?
There are plenty of reasons to hire a spinal cord injury lawyer after you are hurt. It'll be easier to manage your new life if you have an attorney to help you seek the compensation you deserve.
Here are some benefits of working with our spinal cord injury lawyers:
- Quality medical care: If your lawyer helps you recover compensation for medical costs, it could lead to much better medical care. Many people have to forego care (or accept substandard care) for financial reasons; this doesn't have to be you.
- Family assistance and support: It can be nearly impossible to provide for your family after a spinal cord injury. Fortunately, a lawyer may help you recover compensation to ease this burden. Your attorney can advise you when it comes to supportive family services—and you can invest the money you collect from your case in your family's future.
Dolman Law Group Can Help if You Suffered a Spinal Cord Injury
We're proud to offer our San Antonio neighbors comprehensive legal services following a spinal cord injury. Our San Antonio spinal cord injury lawyers work diligently to ensure each client receives the assistance they need. We regularly partner with experts from other fields (like the medical sector) to strengthen our clients' cases. We provide free consultations for injury victims and their families.
We represent clients in San Antonio and nationwide with offices across both Florida coasts. You can easily reach Dolman Law Group via phone or by writing to us on our online contact page.
San Antonio Office
921 S St Mary's St #2
San Antonio, TX 78205
Phone: (210) 361-2039