Undoubtedly spinal cord injuries are some of the most catastrophic injuries you can suffer. They are often permanent and disabling. If you or someone you love suffered a spinal cord injury due to someone else’s negligence or medical malpractice, you should consult an experienced New Jersey spinal cord injury lawyer immediately to find out if you have legal recourse.
Spinal Cord Injuries
One of the first things people typically think of when they hear spinal cord injury is paralysis. Paralysis is perhaps one of the most devastating spinal injuries you could suffer. This condition is often permanent and usually affects the entire body below the location of the injury. The spinal cord communicates between the brain and the body, and any injury that disrupts communication can have permanent consequences. There are generally three types of paralysis.
Paraplegia impairs or eradicates a person’s ability to control or move their body from the waist down. Victims of paraplegia often cannot feel any sensation in their lower extremities, which means they lose control of bladder and bowel functions as well.
High tetraplegia is the most severe form of paraplegia and impairs an individual’s ability to move or feel sensations from the neck down. Victims of high tetraplegia will require assistance with almost all essential bodily functions, including breathing, movement, and bladder and bowel functions.
Low tetraplegia also affects an individual’s ability to move below the neck but is not as severe as high tetraplegia. However, some with high tetraplegia may be able to breathe independently and retain some ability to move and control their upper extremities (e.g., arms, hands, fingers).
The lifelong effects of a spinal cord injury can be catastrophic, requiring extensive medical treatment and adaptation. The average lifetime cost of living for a 25-year-old with a low tetraplegia injury is over $3 million. The financial cost of dealing with a spinal cord injury can be overwhelming and devastating.
Other spinal cord injuries can be caused by ruptured or herniated discs and infections. Left untreated, this could lead to severe permanent injuries. Sadly, spinal cord injuries often impact other areas of the body and can lead to further complications, including bed sores, infections, kidney stones, pneumonia, and more.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Many people probably believe it requires a catastrophic accident to cause injury to the spine. However, even simple mishaps, such as tripping down the stairs, can result in a spinal cord injury. Generally, spinal cord injuries can be traumatic or non-traumatic. Non-traumatic injuries can be caused by inflammation, arthritis, fluid retention, swelling, or diseases such as cancer or spina bifida. A traumatic event, such as a sudden and sharp blow to the back or neck, causes other spinal injuries.
The most common causes of spinal cord injuries include the following:
- Motor vehicle accidents,
- Sports accidents,
- Slips and falls,
- Physical violence, and
- Medical malpractice.
If your spinal cord injury directly resulted from another’s negligence, our Hoboken, New Jersey, spinal cord injury attorney can help you file a claim.
Steps After a New Jersey Spinal Cord Injury
While there will be many adjustments and steps to take toward recovering and adapting to life after a spinal cord injury, there are two vital steps to follow.
Get Medical Treatment
Many spinal cord injuries require emergency medical attention, but beyond that, they often require extensive follow-up care and procedures. The first and perhaps most important step after a spinal cord injury is to ensure you get all the necessary medical treatment. This may include the following:
- Emergency room services,
- Diagnostic testings,
- Surgery, and
- Extensive physical therapy.
No matter the severity of the spinal cord injury, it is imperative to seek medical treatment immediately. Prolonging or avoiding proper care can make the injury worse.
Speak with an Experienced Attorney
The second step you should take after a spinal cord injury is to learn more about your legal rights and options. A spinal cord injury will likely change your life and impact your family. Consulting with a seasoned spinal injury attorney is in your best interest.
Who Is Liable for My Spinal Cord Injury?
The first step in a spinal cord injury claim is to identify the liable party or parties. Sometimes the responsible party is obvious, but other times, it takes a thorough investigation to determine who is liable.
Spinal Injuries Caused by Negligence
Most spinal cord injuries are caused by another person’s negligence or reckless conduct. To prove someone’s negligence caused your injury, you must show the following:
- They owed you a duty of care,
- They breached that duty of care,
- Their breach caused your injury, and
- As a result, you suffered damages.
Negligence can occur under many circumstances. For instance, suppose a driver is under the influence of alcohol and causes an accident that causes you a spinal cord injury. You can hold that driver liable for their negligence.
Spinal Injuries from Slips and Falls
If you slipped or fell on someone else’s property and suffered a spinal cord injury, you may have a premise liability claim against the owner. Property owners must adequately maintain and keep their property free from dangerous conditions.
Spinal Injuries from Medical Malpractice
Sadly, medical errors happen, and they can be devastating. Medical malpractice that can lead to spinal cord injuries includes the following:
- EMS errors;
- Emergency room mistakes;
- Anesthesia error;
- Malpractice during surgery (e.g., wrong site surgery, a left-behind object); and
- The misdiagnosis of a spinal injury that leads to permanent damage.
If a doctor or other health care provider is negligent and causes you injury, they may be liable for damages.
Spinal Injuries from a Defective Product
It is possible to suffer a spinal cord injury due to a defective or malfunctioning product.
Defective products that can injure your spine include:
- Faulty seat belts,
- Defective airbag, and
- Defective or recalled surgical implant or device.
You can file a claim against the product manufacturer, designer, or retailer that sold you the product.
Damages for spinal cord injury can easily reach seven figures. The extent of medical care alone can be over a million dollars. Generally, two types of damage are available to you if you are a spinal cord injury victim.
Economic damages represent compensation for direct financial losses you incurred because of your injury and may include:
- Past and future medical expenses,
- Rehabilitation treatment expenses,
- Lost wages, and
- Lost earning capacity.
Economic damages can also cover any necessary home modifications.
Non-economic damages represent compensation for the injury’s impact on your life. These damages include:
- Pain and suffering,
- Mental anguish,
- Loss of companionship or consortium, and
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
Everyone’s damages will vary slightly depending on the severity of the injury. In situations in which the defendant was grossly negligent, you may also be entitled to punitive damages. Having an attorney who will advocate aggressively for your rights is essential.
Hoboken, New Jersey Spinal Cord Injury Attorney
Spinal cord injuries can leave the victim and their family devastated. At Glugeth & Pierguidi, P.C., we have recovered over $100 million for our clients and their families. Being the victim of an accident is horrific enough; you shouldn’t have to bear the financial strain as well. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.