A spinal cord injury is very much a catastrophic injury, which means it has long-term or lifelong implications. Like the brain, the spinal cord is unable to grow back the way other body tissues can, and it controls essential, basic functions that may be gone forever after an injury. Victims of spinal cord injuries are left with permanent disabilities that range from complete paralysis to inability to walk and lack of sensation. Spinal cord injuries are emotionally, physically, and financially devastating for victims and their families.
When a spinal cord injury is caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of another, victims can seek compensation by filing a personal injury claim. The experienced NY personal injury lawyers at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, can help victims and families navigate a complex process and obtain maximum compensation and support for their losses.
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), there are approximately 12,000 new cases of spinal cord injury each year in the United States. These individuals are now living with complete or incomplete tetraplegia or paraplegia. Tetraplegia, also known as quadriplegia, is the loss of function in all four limbs. Paraplegia involves just the lower half of the body.
Recent advancements in the way we treat spinal cord injuries have made it more likely that paralysis will be incomplete rather than complete. When someone suffers an incomplete injury, he or she maintains partial feeling and minimal physical ability in the body. When a spinal cord injury is complete, the victim will have no feeling or physical control below the site of the trauma.
Almost any accident can cause spinal cord injuries if you’re hit in the wrong place - even turning a backflip on a trampoline at a friend’s house. However, a few tend to be more likely than others. These include:
- Automotive collisions. Motor vehicle accidents can be devastating for all those involved and result in many different types of injuries, including those to the spine. The high speeds involved make even the best protection only moderately effective. If an accident was caused by the negligence of other drivers, they are liable for the pain, suffering, and medical expenses of the spinal injury victim.
- Slips-and-falls. Slips-and-falls are dangerous, particularly for the elderly, and can cause all sorts of injuries, frequently involving the spine. Depending on what caused the person to slip-and-fall, someone else may be liable for the consequences. If a property owner lets his building’s stairs fall into disrepair and does not light them properly, for example, he might be liable for spinal injuries caused by such negligence.
- Bike accidents. Injuries on bicycles can be especially serious since a cyclist has little protection while riding at fairly high speeds. A helmet does not have support for the neck and back, leaving these areas open to spinal cord injuries. Responsible bike-riding can minimize the risk of injury, but some accidents are caused by someone else behaving recklessly. A motorist who strikes a cyclist may be responsible for injuries and expenses that arise after the accident.
- Sports injuries. A large number of spinal injuries occur while victims are participating in sports, including high-contact sports, in which two or more people frequently slam into each other, as well as other activities like diving. Many spinal injuries are, in fact, caused by diving into water that is too shallow - the diver hits the bottom and his spine is violently compressed. Improper training, maintenance, and supervision can cause such injuries, and negligent parties can be responsible for paying for their lack of care.
- Acts of violence. Some spinal cord injuries are caused by violent acts: physical fights and the use of firearms. In these situations, it’s easier to identify who’s responsible for the injuries that occur: these are not accidents, but intentional violence. Proving negligence and liability in a court of law, however, is still best handled by an experienced lawyer who understands all of the costs that can be recovered in a civil lawsuit, in addition to potential criminal charges against the perpetrator.
The NSCISC found that about 57.1% of people with a spinal cord injury were employed at the time of the accident. Only 11.7% returned to work within a year. Spinal cord injuries have long-term and even permanent financial consequences. According to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, a person who has suffered a severe spinal cord injury may need on average 12 days of initial hospitalization and 37 days of stay in a rehabilitation unit. About 89.8% of all spinal cord injury victims are discharged from hospitals to private homes while 6.2% are discharged to nursing homes. The cost of living with a spinal cord injury could add millions throughout a person's lifetime.
Living with a spinal cord injury can be difficult and, as you can see, often involves long-term expenses. These tremendous costs can, however, be offset by a civil claim. While the expenses of rehabilitation, physical therapy, and nursing care are already high, there are other long-term costs that can be harder to appreciate. For example, loss of future wages due to missed work as well as the loss of potential promotions and career opportunities can all be factored into a civil claim. Paralysis and chronic pain impact not only your quality of life, but also your relationships, including that with a spouse and other loved ones. These kinds of expenses and damages may not be immediately obvious, which is why an experienced lawyer is necessary to successfully file a spinal cord injury claim that takes care of you and your family.
If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury in New York City, we understand the challenges you must be facing. Our top New York injury firm has a track record of helping severely injured victims get fair compensation for their losses so they can focus on recovering and living the rest of their lives with quality and dignity. Please call Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP at (212) 986-7353 to schedule a free and comprehensive consultation.
NY Spinal Cord Injury Verdicts & Settlements
$2.75 Million - Car Accident: Lumbar and Cervical Fusion Surgery