Over the course of many decades representing spinal cord, neck, and paralysis victim all across Pennsylvania. Our dedicated personal injury lawyers have handled many brain injury, spinal cord injury, and medical malpractice cases — including several on behalf of paralysis victims. Anytime a person has suffered a neck or spinal cord injury, which results in paralysis to any degree they are going to face extraordinary medical expenses and a lengthy recovery. These personal injury case cases not only can require extraordinary diligence to prove liability; they also call for an extensive, thorough effort to substantiate the lifelong costs and total impact of the injury.
Injuries Leading to Paralysis
When a person suffers a traumatic accident or is the victim of medical malpractice there is always the chance that they will sustain paralysis as a result of their accident. When the neck or spine is involved there is an increased likelihood that a person will become paralyzed. Most people who suffer from paralysis find themselves in their condition because of a catastrophic injury and or a serious injury, however, this is not the only reason why a person may become paralyzed. Paralysis can be caused by diseases and congenital disorders, and surgical error, which in many cases can be prevented by proper medical care and treatment. Damage to the nervous system, spinal cord, and parts of the brain can lead to permanent loss of muscle function, motor skills, and sensation. Traumatic injuries that can lead to paralysis include motor vehicle crashes, slip and fall accidents, workplace injuries, construction injuries, falls from ladders or balconies, diving and swimming pool accidents, amusement park accidents, premise liability accidents, falls down stairs, medical malpractice, and birth injuries.
Paralysis as an injury can be categorized as both quadriplegia and paraplegia. Quadriplegia, or tetraplegia, means that a person will experience paralysis in both their legs and their arms as well as their torso. Generally, a person who is suffering from quadriplegia cannot move their limbs or feel any sensation, however in some instances, small movements and sensations can be felt. Quadriplegia also has the potential to affect a person’s entire organ system since the torso is often paralyzed. In these cases a person may not be able to breathe on their own, may suffer from decreased lung function, decreased, impaired, or nonfunctioning kidney function, and may experience complete inability to digest foods.
Paraplegia affects movement and sensation primarily in the legs and torso and in most instances a person will retain the complete functionality of their arms, fingers, shoulders, and neck. However, because the legs and torso are commonly affected by paraplegia injuries, most paraplegics require help with mobility and may need the assistance of a wheelchair. People with paraplegia often experience chronic pain and phantom pains if their paralysis was caused by a traumatic injury.
Persons suffering from various forms of paralysis often require extensive, long-term medical care and rehabilitation at a significant financial expense. Quadriplegia and paraplegia are usually permanent, and people suffering from these disabilities and other forms of paralysis will often require physical therapy, occupational therapy, and medications. Individuals with paralysis may also need surgical treatments, and psychiatric care to help them cope with living with a disability. Treatment and management of paralysis can be extremely expensive. Paralytics may not be able to work, and therefore have no income for themselves or their families.
Spinal Injury Statistics
Spinal cord injuries are a type of injury that plagues people for the rest of their lives. In addition to these injuries being severe and life-long, there are a surprising number of people who are living with these severe injuries and a growing number of people who are injured every year. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center in Birmingham Alabama regularly conducts studies to determine the number of people who have suffered a spinal cord injury (SCI) and to document the new cases that arise every year.
The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center estimates that there were approximately 273,000 people who were living with a spinal cord injury in 2013. They also noted that there were approximately 40 cases per million people in the population which translates into approximately 12,000 new cases every year. This study was the first of its kind since the early 1990’s and pointed out some interesting statistics and information about spinal cord injuries.
- Age of injury – The age of the victim is important, because a younger victim has more time ahead of them to suffer from the effects of the injury. According to the study half of all spinal cord injuries were documented in patients who were between the ages of 16 and 30.
- Gender – Spinal cord injuries do not distinguish between men and women, and both genders are equally at risk of incurring a spinal cord injury. However, in the application, a startling amount of spinal cord injuries occurred in men. Spinal cord injuries in men accounted for over 80 percent of all spinal cord injuries.
- Job and occupational status – More than half of all those who suffer a spinal cord injury reported that they were employed at the time of their injury. However, one year after an accident where a spinal cord injury was sustained only 11.8 percent of people reported that there were still employed. This percentage does not dramatically increase over time, indicating the long-lasting effects of a spinal cord injury. Even 20 years after an accident only 34 percent of those who have suffered a spinal cord injury were able to return to a similar level of employment as they had before their injury.
One statistic that has to be highlighted is the incredible amount of medical expenses that a person who has suffered a spinal cord injury is expected to pay each year. For a person who has suffered an injury to the upper portion of their spine between the C1 and C4 Cervical vertebrae, they can expect to incur $1,044,197 in medical expenses in their first year and approximately $181,328 for each year following their injury. Even for the lowest injury for a patient who suffers incomplete motor function at any level they can expect to pay $340,787 for a spinal cord injury in their first year of recovery and approximately $41,000 a year for each subsequent year. These numbers do not include the indirect costs of a spinal cord injury such as losses in wage, fringe benefits they may lose, and decreased productivity that follows a spinal cord injury.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Medically the cause of a spinal cord injury can vary. Cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, surgical error, and inflammation of the spinal cord also can cause spinal cord injuries. However, the rate of these spinal cord injuries is relatively low compared to the other larger causes of spinal cord injuries. Trauma and particularly blunt force trauma is the leading cause of spinal cord injuries.
- Vehicular accidents – Vehicles of all types and accidents involving vehicles is the largest cause of spinal cord injuries in the United States. Among vehicle accidents the following types were noted as causing spinal cord injuries:
- General auto accidents including cars, jeeps, trucks
- All-terrain vehicles
- Falls – Falls, slips and trips are also another leading cause of spinal cord injuries. Among the different type of falls that resulted in spinal cord injuries the following were noted:
- Falls on the same level from slipping, tripping, and stumbling
- Falls from a building structure
- Falls from ladders
- Falls from trees
- Falls from scaffolding
- Violence – Violent acts and crimes also lead to many spinal cord injuries and round out the top three reasons why a person might sustain a spinal cord injury. Some of the violent acts which lead to spinal cord injuries included:
- Gunshot wounds
- Person-to-person fights
- Penetrating wounds
Spinal cord injuries can happen for a wide variety of reasons. Other reasons that have been noted for causing spinal cord injuries are sports and other recreational activities. Among these activities diving and winter sports lead to the most amount of spinal cord injuries.
Diligent and Well Connected for Projecting Lifelong Costs of Care
We know that a paralysis victim may not only be unable work, but may require long-term, full-time care by a spouse, nurse, or others. When targeting a claim value and preparing the case for a possible trial, we often work with:
- Physicians and other medical specialists qualified to substantiate the diagnosis and prognosis
- Lifecare planners and economists capable of presenting clear, compelling projections of medical costs and living expenses well into the future
- Experts in vocational rehabilitation and physical therapy
Our case successes include an $850,000 settlement for a man who suffered a traumatic stroke and partial paralysis after an ATV accident — as well as major recoveries for many spinal cord injuries and medical malpractice victims.
Our Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers Have Worked with Spinal Injuries and Paralysis in Pennsylvania
If you or someone you love was paralyzed as a result of a workplace injury, car accident, fall from a height, medical malpractice, diving or swimming pool accident, or construction site accident, scaffolding accident, or the fault or carelessness of another, the experienced paralysis lawyers of Reiff & Bily may be able to help you receive monetary compensation to assist you through this difficult time, and the difficult years ahead of you.
The personal injury attorneys of Reiff & Bily know that paralysis is often the result of someone else’s mistake or negligence, and we have successfully represented paralyzed victims, and their families recover hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation and damages.
Our proven track record speaks for itself. Don’t hesitate to contact one of our experienced paralysis lawyers for a free and confidential consultation. We are greedy for justice.