Phoenix Spinal Cord Injury Attorney
A spinal cord injury (SCI) is one of the most catastrophic injuries you can suffer in an accident. The odds are overwhelming that you will at least lose some use of your limbs on a long-term basis. Even if you can recover, it will only come after a long and grueling rehabilitation.
If someone else caused your SCI, you might hold them legally responsible. Otherwise, you may not get the necessary care, and your family will lack crucial support when you can no longer provide for them.
The first step after you or a loved one has suffered an SCI in an accident is to call an experienced spinal cord injury attorney from Gallagher & Kennedy.
We handle high-value catastrophic injury cases, including obtaining $10 million for a child with life-changing injuries from a car crash. Reach out to discuss a possible case today.
Trauma Causes Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord carries messages from the brain to the rest of the body to control movement. The spine is a series of bones called vertebrae surrounding the spinal cord. Humans are born with 33 vertebrae, although they fuse over time to become 24 bones. The spinal cord runs down the middle of the spinal canal, and the vertebrae protect the spinal cord from injury.
However, acute trauma can cause the spinal cord to bruise or tear. The vertebrae can break or compress around the spinal cord.
The spinal cord is not like many other parts of the body. It does not heal on its own. If the spinal cord tears, it does not repair itself.
How Spinal Cord Injuries Happen
Here are some of the common causes of spinal cord injuries:
- Car accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Sports injuries
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
The Four Primary Spinal Cord Injuries
Usually, the higher the injury is on the spinal cord, the more severe the damage. There are four primary kinds of spinal cord injuries:
- Cervical spinal cord injuries – The most severe spinal cord injuries affect the area around the head and neck. The accident victim will lose most or all use of their limbs and may have trouble breathing.
- Thoracic spinal cord injuries – These injuries impact the abdominal and upper back muscles, and the accident victim can usually still use their arms and hands.
- Lumbar spinal cord injuries – Injuries to this spinal cord region impact the hips and legs, and the patient will either be unable to walk or walk with difficulty.
- Sacral spinal cord injuries – As the least severe spinal cord injury, the patient may still have the ability to walk.
SCIs sometimes immediately appear at the accident scene when the victim loses feeling and the ability to use some or all of their limbs. In other cases, the victim will not know the extent of the damage right away.
The accident victim may notice some of these symptoms:
- Loss of movement in part or all of the body
- Weakness in a particular part of the body
- Spams or exaggerated reflexes
- Loss of bladder control
- An intense stinging sensation
- Difficulty breathing
These symptoms require immediate medical treatment. The doctor may need to perform surgery to stabilize the area or remove bone fragments that put pressure on the spinal cord.
It Takes Time to Learn Your Prognosis
The patient’s prognosis is not always immediately known after the accident or the initial surgery. The patient may need intensive rehabilitation to see what function they can regain if they have lost it in the wake of the accident. Regardless, the immediate days after an SCI are sure to have angst, physical difficulties, and uncertainties.
At the same time, you have to deal with the legal process because it is the only way that you can get financial compensation for your injuries. An experienced lawyer will handle all the details for you, so you can focus on what is essential because you have a long and challenging road ahead.
The Legal Process for an SCI Claim or Lawsuit
The legal process after an SCI can also be tricky. The stakes can not be higher because you are facing immense financial costs at the same time when you most likely cannot bring any money in on your own. You often deal with a difficult insurance company and their policyholder who have self-protection as their primary interest.
Like every other personal injury case, you must prove that someone else was negligent before you can get a settlement offer or a jury award. Negligence is the legal term for when someone does something that the average person will not do that causes your injury.
For example, if you have suffered an injury in a car accident, it will be negligence when the other driver ran a red light and t-boned your car at an intersection. Failing to stop when a pedestrian is in a crosswalk and hitting them will also be negligence.
How a Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Helps You
Negligence requires some proof, so you can explain precisely how the other party is to blame for your accident and why they need to pay for your injuries in a claim or lawsuit. You cannot take care of this on your own when your health and long-term physical future hang in the balance.
That is why you need to turn your case over to a diligent and trusted lawyer to handle the legal process while you adjust to your new reality after your accident. See our results and how we can assist you.
You Need to Know How Much Your Claim Is Worth
Perhaps the most crucial function that your lawyer will perform is to calculate the value of your claim. This calculation takes time and diligence because it will include many considerations. While it seems unfair to hold you in the future to the estimation that your attorney makes now, that is exactly how personal injury cases work. You will get one opportunity to seek compensation for your injuries, and the money must last for the rest of your life. You cannot demand more money if you settle your case for too little or underestimate your damages.
With that in mind, your attorney may work with experts to understand your current and future situation. Everything begins with your medical diagnosis and prognosis. You will file your claim or lawsuit once you have reached the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI).
MMI is when further medical care will not improve your condition. Essentially, it is a plateau in your healing. Before then, you will not know your damages with certainty. Once you understand what you face, you can begin to seek financial compensation.
How Your Lawyer Will Value Your Claim
Once you know your prognosis, your lawyer may work with these experts to understand your present and future condition:
- Medical experts to understand the full extent of your condition and any prognosis for your future.
- Psychological experts to help quantify the damage that your long-term physical injuries can do to your mental condition.
- Vocational experts to understand whether you can work again and what duties you can perform.
- Life care planning experts to understand what activities of daily life you will need assistance with and what you can do on your own.
- Economic experts to factor in how inflation may impact the value of your settlement dollars tomorrow (in today’s inflationary environment, we cannot overstate this).
SCIs Are Prohibitively Expensive
Statistics show the financial struggles families of SCI patients will encounter.
- Paraplegia will have medical expenses exceeding $500,000 in the first year and $75,000 annually afterward. A 25-year-old who suffers paraplegic injury will incur medical costs of over $2.5 million over the rest of their life.
- Low tetraplegia will have medical expenses that exceed $840,000 in the first year and $123,000 per year for each year after that. Lifetime medical costs for a 25-year-old who suffers this injury will approach $4 million.
- High tetraplegia will have medical expenses exceeding $1.1 million in the first year and over $200,000 annually afterward. Lifetime medical costs will exceed $5 million.
These figures are just for medical expenses. The SCI patient may need multiple surgeries to stabilize the injured area and possibly help them regain some function. In addition, they will require extensive medical equipment and retrofitting of their home to accommodate their injury.
Other SCI Damages that You Must Receive
These figures do not include any of the indirect costs associated with SCIs. Patients will need to live with other costs, both financial and physical. Personal injury lawyers can recover compensation for all of these injuries.
The other compensation you may receive for an SCI includes:
- Lost income
- The costs of home and life care for your daily activities
- Pain and suffering from the physical and emotional impacts of living with this severe injury
- Loss of enjoyment of life from the life that you lived before the accident
- Embarrassment and humiliation
SCI cases result in among the highest compensation of all personal injury claims. You need an attorney who knows how to negotiate the best settlement for you. If the insurance company does not offer you the compensation you deserve, your lawyer can take your case to court and persuade the jury to award it to you.
You Need Patience With Your SCI Claim
SCI claims require time and patience. We understand that it is not easy when your injuries and financial concerns press on you today, but it takes effort to secure the right amount of compensation.
Their initial offer will not come close to what you need to cover your damages and expenses. Only after extended negotiations will the differences between you and the insurance company narrow.
Without an experienced attorney, you may not know the insurance company is underpaying you until after it is too late.
Contact a Phoenix Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Today
An injury to the spinal cord is a grave matter that can affect victims for the rest of their lives.
When you or a loved one suffer an injury in an accident, the personal injury lawyers at Gallagher & Kennedy are here to fight the legal battle necessary to obtain your just compensation. We offer realistic and objective advice as we advocate for you.
Our lawyers get satisfaction from helping accident victims get the justice and the money they deserve.
Gallagher Kennedy – Phoenix Office
2575 E Camelback Rd, Suite 810
Phoenix, AZ 85016
Tel: (602) 530-8400