Spinal Cord Injuries
Matthew D. Kaplan not only understands the legal issues but also the medical and life-altering challenges victims of SCI may face. If you or a loved one is suffering from a significant spinal cord injury as a result of another's negligent conduct, it is important to hire an attorney as soon as possible. Our office will help in getting the right experts involved to make sure your case is properly represented in a court of law.
SCI cases are more common than you might think. Nearly 18,000 new spinal cord injuries occur each year according to the National SCI Statistical Center. More than 70% of these injuries are the results of falls or vehicle accidents.
The spinal cord is divided into three areas: the cervical spine (neck area) the thoracic spine (upper and mid-back area,) and the lumbar spine (the lower back area). Spinal injuries can take on a variety of manifestations, some being more serious than others. These injuries include bruising, compression fractures, lacerations (severing or tearing of nerve fibers), and damage to the central spinal cord. The latter more significant spinal cord injuries can render the victim either a paraplegic or a quadriplegic. This can mean not only the loss of use of the arms and legs but internal organs as well. This can affect basic life activities, such as breathing, toileting, and sexual function.
When an SCI involves a degree of paralysis, that person very possibly will never work again. They may also need 24/7 care if the injury left them wholly unable to feed themselves, clean themselves, and engage in other basic tasks.
Compression fractures occur when a traumatic event causes the bone of the spinal column to compress onto the spinal cord. This can be more painful and serious if nerves are impacted.
Bulging discs are a common injury from a motor vehicle crash or a fall. The spine is made up of boney material called vertebrae. In between the vertebrae are gelatinous discs. These discs allow the spine to have flexibility. A traumatic event can cause a bulge within one of these discs. The impact of a bulging disc usually depends on whether the bulge impinges upon the spinal column. Typically a person will have pain radiating into another part of the body depending upon where the bulge is compressing on the spinal column.
Herniated discs occur when a disc is perforated or desiccated. This typically leads to nerve compression and causes a great deal of pain. Disc injuries are generally not seen on x-rays because the tissue is not hard or dense enough for the damage to show up. If you are experiencing radiating symptoms you should request a CT scan or an MRI.
Discs may be displaced and or protrude from normal position causing a compression of ligaments, nerve roots, blood vessels and/or spinal cord. The results can be severe pain, paralysis, and even death.
Depending on the severity of a disc injury, treatment may involve extensive therapy and rehab, powerful prescription medications, and maybe even surgery. The path to recovery for these patients can be both painful and expensive. According to the NSCISC, the estimated lifetime costs of an SCI injury can range from $1.7 million to $5.1 million for a 25-year-old, and $12. million to $2.8 million for a 50-year-old. (That doesn't include indirect costs like lost wages, which the NSCISC estimated at $77,700 per year in 2019 dollars.)
The discs in a person's spine also can degenerate over time. Especially if you are a middle-aged or older person who has suffered a disc injury, there may be a tendency (on the part of those responsible for the injury) to dismiss your harm as simple age-related disc degeneration. Alternately, if you've suffered a disc injury earlier in your life, they may assert your damage is the result of that older injury.
These age-related or previous injury scenarios are two instances where having an experienced legal advocate is extremely valuable, but any time you've suffered an SCI is the right time to consult Kaplan Law LLC. Our knowledgeable team can help you investigate your injury and ensure you have the expert evidence and other essential proof needed to give your case a fair hearing in court.