Whether your back injuries resulted from a fall, car accident, or some other cause, the impact can be devastating. These types of injuries often require years of treatment and the lifetime medical costs can be enormous. If your injury happened because of someone else’s negligence, an Atlanta spinal cord injury lawyer from Bey & Associates can help.
If you’ve been hurt in an accident or incident that wasn’t your fault, you may be eligible to receive financial compensation if you sustained serious injuries. This compensation can go towards your recovery and towards the overall process of moving forward with your life despite your injuries.
In order to understand the legal process behind catastrophic injury law, you’ll benefit from having some background knowledge on the accidents that cause them and the associated consequences. First, let’s take a look at some noteworthy statistics regarding spine injuries.
Spinal Cord Injury Statistics
The statistics on spine injuries are grim. Victims of serious injuries rarely experience a full recovery. Once this part of the body becomes damaged, there is rarely a way to reverse that damage. This fact is unfortunate; but with the help of physical therapy, some patients may regain partial feeling or usage of their limbs. Other patients can retain a mobile life with the help of motorized wheelchairs and other accessories and equipment.
According to data gathered by the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), there are approximately 17,700 new spine injuries every year in the United States. This is a significant number. As of 2018, it’s estimated that there are over 288,000 people in the U.S. who suffer from back injuries.
Since 2015, approximately 47 percent of spine injury victims have suffered from incomplete tetraplegia, 20 percent have suffered from incomplete paraplegia, 20 percent have been diagnosed with complete paraplegia, approximately 12 percent have complete tetraplegia, and less than one percent of victims since have experienced a full recovery from their accident.
Here are other significant spinal cord injury stats from the NSCISC:
- The average age at injury is 43 years old.
- Nearly 78 percent of the victims are male.
- Vehicle crashes and falls are the leading causes of injury.
- The average hospital stay after sustaining a back injury is 11 days.
- The average time spent in rehabilitation is 34 days.
Spinal cord injuries can cause a permanent change to your life. Your job and lifestyle may need to adjust because of the injury. This can be a lot to handle at once, especially when the injury happened because of an accident. With our Atlanta spinal cord injury lawyer at your side, we’ll make sure you get the justice you deserve.
Common Causes of Serious Back Injuries
When our lawyers are at your side, we’ll investigate your case to find out what happened and why. We’ll look into the cause of your injury. Spine injuries can occur in accidents caused by negligence. Most are traumatic in nature and can lead to other debilitating conditions with lifelong consequences. These are among the most common direct causes:
- Car Crashes. Being in a serious car accident can cause severe back and neck trauma which can damage the sensitive spine. Rollover and rear-end crashes often produce the most severe spinal injuries because of the force of impact and the effect that impact has on the body.
- Falls. In hazardous conditions an accident where an individual trips or slips and falls as a result is legally referred to as a slip-and-fall accident. These can lead to serious injuries. Falling can shock the system and knock things out of place. Anytime the neck or back sustains an injury, the spinal cord is inevitably placed at risk.
- Truck Wrecks. Truck accidents are inherently more dangerous than many other vehicle accidents because of their sheer size and weight. They can lead to serious neck and back injuries—especially if the victim’s vehicle is crushed.
- Motorcycle Accidents. Motorcyclists tend to suffer from devastating injuries when they experience a collision with another vehicle or spin out of control suddenly as a result of weather conditions or road debris. Motorcycle wrecks are particularly dangerous for the rider because of the exposure to the elements. Individuals who choose to operate their bikes without helmets put themselves at an even greater risk.
- Medical Malpractice. While most physicians are able to successfully complete procedures, a negligent doctor may make mistakes in the operating room that can lead to serious spine injuries.
- Violence. Acts of unnatural violence can lead to life-altering injuries. Shootings are the most common violent crimes that lead to spinal cord trauma.
- Workplace Accidents. Workplace machinery can seriously injure an employee if a piece of equipment malfunctions or is used negligently. It’s an employer’s responsibility to ensure all equipment is safe and all employees are trained to know how to use it safely, so devastating accidents are prevented.
- Sports Accidents. Contact sports can be dangerous, especially when players are not properly protected. Football, hockey, and soccer players are particularly at risk because of the significant number of head injuries players who participate in those sports are likely to sustain.
If you suffered a spinal cord injury because of the reckless actions of another and recognize the causes above or your injury occurred for a different reason, you deserve to make your voice heard. An Atlanta back injury attorney from Bey & Associates, LLC will assess what happened to you, the validity of your claim, and discuss the options you have to move forward.
The Consequences of Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord is responsible for relaying brain signals and messages throughout our bodies. It’s what allows us to do everything from walking to moving our limbs, standing, sitting, exercising, and enjoying a mobile life. This part of the body is also exceptionally fragile, as we discussed. It’s protected by our spinal column and each individual vertebra. When the spine is injured in an accident, the sensitive cord inside can easily become damaged.
The most common symptoms of a serious spine injury are related to complete or partial paralysis. After an accident like a car crash, symptoms may appear in a delayed manner. A simple backache can turn into a condition much more severe. When the spinal cord is damaged, a victim may not feel pain at all. This is why it’s vital for accident victims to receive immediate medical attention regardless of the severity of their symptoms.
These injuries are generally categorized as either complete or incomplete. Complete means that the individual has no sensation or voluntary movement of those limbs, while incomplete means that some level of functionality may still be present. Victims of incomplete spine injuries can sometimes move one side of the body but not the other or feel limbs they cannot move.
Spinal cord injuries are also typically categorized by the area of the body that is affected. Paraplegia describes the function of the lower half of the body including the legs, while tetraplegia describes the function of all four limbs including the full torso. Other terms that sometimes get used to describe injuries include paraparesis (partial paralysis of lower limbs), quadriparesis (partial paralysis of all four limbs), and quadriplegia (complete paralysis of all four limbs).
After feelings of paralysis, these are the most common symptoms associated with severe back injuries:
- Numbness or tingling in the external limbs
- Extreme pain in the neck, head, or back
- Difficulty with walking and balancing
- Unusual lumps on the head or spine
- Nerve pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty with bladder or bowel function
Let’s take a more detailed look into the different types of spinal cord injuries.
Types of Back and Neck Injuries
To better understand the consequences and symptoms that are involved in serious back and neck injuries, it’s important to look deeply at the different categories of spinal cord injuries and what they mean for a patient. As mentioned above, the two different categories of spine injuries are incomplete and complete. Both are serious injuries, but one is less severe than the other.
Incomplete spinal injuries are when the spinal cord is compressed or injured, but the victim still maintains some movement or function below the point of injury. However, it’s not guaranteed that they have full range of motion or full function of those limbs or body parts. There could be a loss of function at first, but the victim could regain movement with therapy and treatment. Incomplete spinal injuries are still severe, as they can limit mobility, but they are not as severe as injuries in the complete category.
Complete spinal injuries are when the spinal cord is compressed or severed completely, and results in the victim having complete loss of control or function below the injury point. Depending on where the point of injury is, the loss of mobility could be more and more dangerous. The higher the point of injury, the more dangerous the injury is, because it could affect organ function as well as motor function.
As mentioned above, complete spinal cord injuries are then categorized into more detailed sections depending on the parts of the body affected by the compression or severing. Those categories and what they entail are:
- Paraplegia. Paraplegia is the loss of function of the lower limbs. When a victim is paraplegic, they still have control of their upper body, but they are unable to move their legs. These injuries occur on the spinal cord in the thoracic and lumbar portions of the spine, which are the vertebrae in the lower and middle of the back.
- Low Tetraplegia. Tetraplegia is the loss of function from the neck down. There are different levels of this type of paralysis that depend on where the injury occurred and specific areas of the body that were affected. In Low Tetraplegia, the lower cerebral vertebrae are the ones affected, or C5 through C8. These victims might still have limited mobility in their shoulders, elbows, and hands, and will likely be able to breathe on their own. However, the victim will most likely need help walking, moving around, and taking care of themselves.
- High Tetraplegia. Even more serious than Low Tetraplegia, High Tetraplegia is when there is complete paralysis of the body from the neck down. This paralysis stems from spinal cord damage in the upper vertebrae, or C1 through C4. When a victim suffers from High Tetraplegia, they usually need help with all basic life functions, including breathing and incontinence.
Your Atlanta spinal cord injury lawyer from Bey & Associates will understand the severity of your back and neck injury and will know how to include that into your claim and the amount you’re owed in compensation. Additionally, medical and treatment costs will be included in how much you can financially recover from your injury.
When you’re recovering from the accident, you may wonder about the treatment process for your back and neck injury. Let’s take a look at how current treatments for spine injuries work.
Treating Spine Injuries
Unfortunately, there are currently no known ways to reverse the damage associated with spinal cord injuries. Researchers are continually working on new treatments to promote the regeneration of nerve cells and improve the function of the nerves that remain after an injury. Current treatments focus on preventing further injury and improving quality of life.
When the initial injury occurs, quick medical attention is critical to minimizing the effects of the trauma. When emergency responders reach a possible back injury victim, they will immobilize the spine as quickly and gently as possible using a rigid carrying board and neck collar. Once the patient has reached the emergency room, the healthcare providers will ensure the patient can breathe normally and will continue to immobilize the neck.
After the patient is stable, a course of action can be decided. Some patients experience improvement if they’d administered a steroid medication, called Methylprednisolone, within eight hours of injury. In other cases, surgery may be necessary to remove fluid or tissue that’s pressing on the spinal cord, remove bone fragments or foreign objects, fuse broken bones, or place spinal braces.
People with spine damage may benefit from the following forms of rehabilitation:
- Physical therapy
- Assistive devices like wheelchairs and leg braces
- Adaptive devices for communication
- Occupational therapy
- Bladder and bowel management
- Vocational therapy
- Recreational therapy
- Counseling on healthy diets and exercise
- Functional electrical stimulation
The treatment for your spine injury may require a lot of care over time. This may also result in high medical bills. You shouldn’t have to worry about affording the care you deserve when you’ve suffered an injury that shouldn’t have occurred in the first place. That’s where our firm steps in.
Bey & Associates understands how devastating a back injury can be and how much care it’s going to take to help you heal. You may be looking at a long road ahead, but we’re here to walk by your side so you get the compensation you deserve and you’re able to cover your medical costs.
When an Atlanta spinal cord injury lawyer is fighting for you, we’ll look at how the injury has impacted your life. We’ll also need to find out who was responsible for your accident. Let’s look into how determining liability works.
Determining Liability After Sustaining a Back Injury in Georgia
Any person, party, or entity whose negligent or intentional misconduct caused the damage can be held responsible for their actions and the victim’s suffering. These types of cases can often be traced back to negligence or defective products. Negligence implies an action or inaction led directly to the injury. This could have happened because someone was driving while intoxicated or they were looking at their cell phone while behind the wheel. If someone falls it could be because of an unsafe railing or could happen because of a hazardous worksite, such as construction. Determining who was liable for your accident will take careful investigation and assessment of the facts.
If you were involved in a vehicle accident, our firm can consult with accident reconstruction specialists to piece together how the accident occurred. Other incidents that resulted in your injury can be investigated by looking at the accident scene, reading police reports, speaking to eyewitnesses, and reviewing evidence from the scene.
However, it’s possible that your accident occurred and the liable party wasn’t present at the scene when it did. If your accident was caused by a defective product, the person who appeared to cause your accident may not have been at fault at all. When defective products are to blame, it’s likely a manufacturing or design flaw is the culprit. This would mean the company that made or sold the product may be held liable for your injuries.
When you’re holding a manufacturing company liable for their negligent actions, they may have representation insisting they weren’t at fault. While it can be intimidating to go up against a manufacturing company, your Atlanta spinal cord injury lawyer will help you every step of the way. We won’t be intimidated and will do everything we can to build you a strong case so you get the compensation you deserve.
In order to receive a financial award that can assist with all the costs associated with a devastating spine injury, your lawyer will need to prove certain elements were present. We’ll thoroughly investigate the accident and gather evidence to show how the other party owed you a duty of care. This could be another driver owing you a duty of care by driving safely or a property owner maintaining their premises. Then, we’ll prove they acted negligently and caused your accident. We’ll use the evidence we gathered to show the correlation between the accident and your injuries and other losses, and demand justice on your behalf.
Our law firm has the knowledge required to put together a compelling case that will show how you were wronged and deserve compensation. We’re prepared to work diligently on your case so you’re able to get the recovery you need.
Compensation After Sustaining Spinal Cord Damage
There are a number of factors that can come into play when determining how much compensation a spinal cord injury victim is owed after their accident. When evaluating the injury, medical professionals will make note of the following:
- Permanence. The expected duration associated with the injury and its consequences.
- Disability. The end result of the complications, which often revolves around some form of paralysis.
- Life Expectancy. This is how the injury jeopardizes the victim’s overall health.
- Complications. This includes predicated instances of infection or other problems the injury could cause in the future.
- Mental Harm. A spinal cord injury can cause a profound emotional effect on the victim, including depression, stress, and anxiety.
Once the injury is evaluated, compensation can be determined. Victims are likely to receive compensation for the following types of damages:
- Medical bills
- Future cost of care
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium and companionship
Spinal cord injuries can result in a number of future health complications. When determining a fair compensation amount, the injuries you sustained, the recovery process, and the additional consequences of the injury must all be taken into account. If you’ve missed work or aren’t able to return to your job, our lawyers will look into the days of pay you missed or the earnings you would have made had you been able to return to your job. The abrupt change to your life can cause a lot of stress and mental anguish as you’re figuring out how to adjust your life to this injury.
The best way to ensure your compensation is full and fair, you’ll want an Atlanta spinal cord injury attorney at your side. Bey & Associates, LLC will fight for your rights to ensure you receive fair compensation that aids with your recovery and adjustments.
How Long Do I Have to File A Spine Injury Claim?
When you hire a back and neck injury lawyer to guide you through the legal process of filing a personal injury claim, one of the first aspects of your case that they will take into consideration is how it fits within the statute of limitations. If your case is not within the statute of limitations, then it would immediately be null and void because you missed the window where you could file.
According to Georgia law, you have two years from the date of the incident that caused your spine injury to file a claim. There are some exceptions to this rule, though. The most important exception is that if the injuries caused loss of consortium, or deprivation of a family relationship, then the statute of limitations is extended to four years since the incident that caused the injury. Loss of consortium is a very real possibility after a spinal cord injury, so your attorney will know if this applies to your case.
If your injury happened on school property during a sport, you should reach out to a lawyer right away. While the statute of limitations still applies, you’ll want an expert looking into your case as soon as possible. You might have signed a waiver or had assumed risk while playing a sport on school property, but there is a chance that someone else’s negligent actions are what caused the injury, so it could have been prevented.
The only way to fully know if you have a case is to contact a back and neck injury lawyer. At Bey & Associates in Atlanta, we have experience with personal injury claims and know that there’s often more to a situation than what’s on the surface. We will fully investigate what happened to cause your spinal cord injury so that you can get the justice you deserve.
A Back and Neck Injury Lawyer in Atlanta Can Help
If you or someone you love suffered from a back injury that resulted from an accident that wasn’t the victim’s fault, you may feel as if there is little reason to feel hope. The costs of these types of injuries can be tremendous, and most insurance companies will offer little to no help in regard to paying for continuous care such as physical therapy or in-home services. With the help of a spinal cord injury attorney from Bey & Associates, LLC, you can get the financial assistance you need to seek the recommended treatment options so you can recover.
In addition, filing a lawsuit against the guilty party can ensure that no one comes to harm again at the hands of the same individual and/or entity. Lawsuits help protect American citizens and Georgia residents from harm—today and in the future. For more information, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today. We can help your family move forward.