Have you suffered a spinal cord injury after an accident?
Are you unable to work because of it?
Spinal cord injuries can be devastating, life-changing events. Spinal cord injuries can cause long-term or permanent disability, often requiring long-term care or assistance with daily activities. Approximately 273,000 people in the U.S. currently live with spinal cord injuries, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center.
If you suffered a spinal injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, you could have grounds for a personal injury case. Spinal cord injuries carry a serious physical and psychological toll, not to mention massive medical bills throughout the course of one’s life. You deserve compensation for your injuries, and Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi can help you recover what is owed. Call (201) 585-9111 or contact us online to speak with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys. Whether your spinal cord injury was the result of a car or truck accident, medical malpractice, or other negligence, we can help.
What is a Spinal Cord Injury?
Spinal cord injuries are the result of damage to the spinal column, which consists of 31 vertebrae. Within the spinal column is a central bundle of nerves, known as the spinal cord, which is responsible for transmitting signals between the brain and the rest of the body. Damage to the spinal column, such as trauma during a car accident, can affect the spinal cord and disrupt the body’s ability to communicate with the brain.
This lack of communication between the brain and the rest of the body often results in temporary or permanent neurological impairments. These impairments can affect certain body system, including the musculoskeletal system, respiratory system, urinary system, and gastrointestinal system, depending on which group of nerves is damages.
Paraplegia and quadriplegia, which are commonly associated with spinal cord injuries, are the result of neurologic damage in the musculoskeletal system. Patients with tetraplegia suffered injuries to one of eight cervical segments of the spinal cord; those with paraplegia suffered injuries in the thoracic, lumbar, or sacral regions of the spinal cord. The injury can be either complete or incomplete; with a complete spinal cord injury, the patient has no feeling below the site of the injury. Approximately 40 percent of spinal cord injury victims are released from the hospital with incomplete quadriplegia, followed by 18.7 percent with incomplete paraplegia, 18 percent with complete paraplegia, and 11.6 percent with complete quadriplegia.
Nearly half of all spinal cord injuries are caused by motor vehicle accidents. Falls cause another 22 percent of spinal cord injuries, with sports-related injuries causing approximately 12 percent. Using a seatbelt while driving or riding in a vehicle can reduce the odds of spinal cord injury by 60 percent, and using a seatbelt in combination with an airbag can reduce the risk by 80 percent.
Between 12,000 and 20,000 new spinal injuries occur every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Spinal cord injuries primarily affect young adults, and nearly half of all spinal cord injuries occur between the ages of 16 and 30.
Spinal cord injuries are particularly troubling because, unlike other parts of the body, the spinal cord does not have the ability to repair itself. With current medical technology, less than 1 percent of spinal cord injury victims experience complete neurologic recovery before being discharged from the hospital. Rehabilitation and assistive devices can help spinal cord injury survivors lead productive lives, but there is currently no cure for spinal cord injuries.
What is a Catastrophic Injury?
A catastrophic injury is an umbrella term for injuries that dramatically alter the mental or physical capacity of a person, often resulting in the need for long-term care, long periods away from work, and extensive rehabilitation (if possible).
Catastrophic injuries include spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, severe burns, amputations, vision loss, hearing loss, paralysis, and wrongful death.
What Are the Costs of a Spinal Cord Injury?
Paralysis, a common result of spinal cord injuries, has a serious effect on one’s ability to perform everyday functions. Paralysis, whether it be incomplete or complete paraplegia or tetraplegia, can require assistive devices, long-term medical care, extensive rehabilitation, and frequent doctor’s visits. As the No. 2 cause of paralysis among U.S. residents, spinal cord injuries carry a major price tag.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that spinal cord injuries cost between $15,000 and $30,000 per person every single year. The year of the injury is typically most expensive, averaging $218,000 for incomplete motor function and $741,000 for high tetraplegia. Depending on the severity of the injury, spinal cord injuries can cost between $500,000 and $5 million over a lifetime. The annual healthcare cost of all U.S. spinal cord injuries is estimated at $9.7 billion.
These costs do not even begin to address the personal and psychological effects of a spinal cord injury. After a spinal cord injury, people have been known to experience anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, or other psychological issues.
What Can You Win in a Personal Injury Case?
Monetary awards in personal injury cases are split into two categories: compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate the injured for the monetary and emotional costs of the defendant’s negligence. Depending on your situation, these costs can include:
- All medical expenses related to the injury (including future long-term care, rehabilitation costs, hospitalization costs, and ambulatory care)
- Lost wages
- Decreased earning potential in the future
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
There are no limits on compensatory damages in the state of New Jersey. Therefore, as long as you can prove the amount of damages (and that the defendant’s conduct was the direct cause of those damages), you are eligible to recover them.
Punitive damages are limited to certain cases of particularly egregious conduct. If the defendant caused your injury intentionally, or their behavior leading up to the accident was extremely negligent or intolerable, the court can award punitive damages. These damages are designed to punish the defendant for inappropriate behavior and discourage people from the same behavior in the future.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury due to someone else’s negligence, we can help. Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi have more than 80 years’ worth of experience fighting for compensation in and out of court. Our experienced personal injury attorneys have won multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements for construction accidents, medical malpractice, motor vehicle accidents, burns, and workplace accidents—to name a few.
Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi have the legal expertise and dedication to see your case through to the very end. Call (201) 585-9111 to talk with one of your seasoned attorneys today. Your initial consultation is free and confidential, and there are no fees due until we win your case.