Sacramento Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer

Spinal cord injuries are often devastating for victims and families. These injuries can completely alter a person’s ability to live a normal life, and they can lead to tremendous expenses. If you or a loved one has suffered from a spinal cord injury caused by another’s negligence, you may be entitled to significant compensation. The Sacramento spinal cord injury lawyers at Rosenthal Law are ready to help. We have extensive experience handling catastrophic injury cases and are ready to investigate every aspect of your case in order to secure the compensation you need.

X-ray of spinal cord injury

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How Can a Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Help?

Spinal cord injury cases can become incredibly complex. In most cases, a spinal cord injury victim or their family members will not have the legal experience or resources necessary to pursue maximum compensation for their claim. A skilled spinal cord injury attorney in Sacramento will be able to handle every aspect of your claim. An injury attorney will be responsible for:

  • Obtaining all evidence related to the incident, including any video surveillance, accident reports, eyewitness statements, and more.
  • Working with trusted medical professionals and spinal cord injury specialists to ensure you receive adequate care and that your total expected losses are properly calculated.
  • Negotiate with every party involved to ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries.

How Much is My Spinal Cord Injury Case Worth?

It can be difficult to understand how much a spinal cord injury case is worth. There is no standard amount that is awarded to victims who sustain spinal cord injuries. The total amount of damages a victim will receive depends on the specifics of their particular case. Depending on the severity of the injury, total compensation may vary widely.

According to data available from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), we can see that the costs associated with spinal cord injury cases are significant. According to the NSCISC, medical costs associated with these injuries range from $375,196 to $1,149,629, depending on the severity of the injury (with total paralysis costing the most).

The NSCISC breaks down an estimated total lifetime cost of these injuries based on the age of the victim. For example, a 25-year-old victim who sustains spinal cord injury can expect the lifetime costs of medical care to range anywhere from $1,700,000 to more than $5 million. A 50-year-old victim who sustains a spinal cord injury can expect lifetime medical care costs to range from $1,200,000 to nearly $3 million.

What Damages Can I Recover?

When examining the figures provided by their NSCISC, we can see that a spinal cord injury victim may be entitled to significant damages if their injury was caused by another’s negligence. There are various types of compensation that may be available for these cases, including the total cost of medical care discussed above.

However, it is important to understand that these figures only include medical costs, and not other “hidden expenses” related to spinal cord injuries. Other types of damages that may be recovered in a spinal cord injury case include:

  • Lost income if a spinal cord injury victim can no longer work.
  • Out-of-pocket expenses related to travel to and from medical visits.
  • Costs associated with home or vehicle modification to aid in a victim’s mobility.
  • Loss of personal enjoyment damages.
  • Pain and suffering damages (mental anguish, depression, anxiety, etc.).

Determining the total costs that a spinal cord injury victim incurs can be incredibly difficult. While many of the expenses mentioned above are calculable, others cannot be as easily calculated. For example, medical expenses can be calculated by gathering medical bills, and lost wages can be calculated by looking at various income statements. However, calculating a spinal cord injury victim’s pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life is much more subjective. These damage amounts are often calculated by taking the total economic losses and multiplying them by a certain number (1.5 to 3).

Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

Not all spinal cord injuries are the same. The NSCISC breaks down four levels when it comes to spinal cord injuries:

  • Incomplete tetraplegia (47.2%)
  • Incomplete paraplegia (19.6%)
  • Complete paraplegia (20.2%)
  • Complete tetraplegia (12.3%)

Tetraplegia, also known as quadriplegia, is generally described as the condition of someone who sustains a spinal cord injury anywhere from the C1 vertebrae to the T1 vertebrae. This type of injury often results in a loss of feeling and/or movement of all four limbs as well as the torso.

Paraplegia is a spinal cord injury that is defined as the loss of lower limb movement but does not generally affect the arms. Paraplegia generally occurs when a person sustains an injury the spinal cord anywhere from there T2 vertebrae to the S5 vertebrae.

It is important to understand that spinal cord injuries vary in their levels of severity for victims. Two people who sustain an injury to their T2 vertebrae may experience completely different levels of injury severity. One may make a full recovery while the other may sustain a permanent disability.

Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries

The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center says that there are around 18,000 new spinal cord injury cases each year in the United States. The NSCISC states that vehicle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries, but that these injuries occur in a variety of ways. Their data shows the following as the top causes of spinal cord injuries:

  • Vehicle accidents (38.6%)
  • Falls (32.2%)
  • Violence (14%)
  • Sports and recreation incidents (7.8%)
  • Medical or surgical mistakes (4.2%)
  • Other (3.2%)

When discussing vehicle accidents, it is important to note that this includes all types of traffic crashes, including the following:

  • Car accidents
  • Commercial truck accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Bus accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Bicycle accidents

Falls that cause spinal cord injuries can occur in a variety of locations, and these incidents are often linked to workplace accidents. Falls are also commonly caused by the negligence of property owners that results in harm to visitors.

The NSCISC says that the average age of a spinal cord injury victim in the United States is 43 and that males are much more likely to sustain spinal cord injuries (they make up 78% of new spinal cord injury cases each year). According to the data, non-Hispanic white individuals are more likely to suffer from spinal cord injuries (58.9%), followed by non-Hispanic black individuals (23.9%), and Hispanic individuals (12.8%).

Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury

After an incident that injures a person’s spine, there could be various symptoms that the victim experiences. In some cases, the symptoms will be immediately apparent, while others may take time to develop. Every injury and every patient is unique. Some of the most common symptoms of a spinal cord injury can include:

  • Pain or stinging sensations throughout the body
  • Extreme back pain or a feeling of pressure in the back
  • Numbness or tingling throughout the body
  • Trouble breathing
  • Altered sensations to heat or cold
  • Trouble balancing or walking
  • Loss of fine motor skills
  • Loss of ability to control any movement
  • Bowel or bladder control problems
  • Loss of feeling
  • Reflexive spasms
  • Sexual dysfunction

If you or a loved one have experienced an injury to your spinal cord, or suspect that a spinal cord injury may have occurred, please seek medical assistance immediately. It is important to understand that spinal cord injury victims should never be moved soon after they experience an injury. EMS should transport a suspected spinal cord injury victim to the hospital, and a trained physician should be the one to make a determination of a spinal cord injury diagnosis and treatment plans.

Re-hospitalization Due to a Spinal Cord Injury

According to the NSCISC, around 30% of all people who sustained a spinal cord injury were re-hospitalized one or more times in any given year following their injury (data accumulated since 2015). The length of these stays averaged approximately 18 days. In most cases, the re-hospitalization did not have to do directly with their spinal cord, though the spinal cord injury indirectly caused the following to occur:

  • Genitourinary system problems
  • Skin diseases
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Digestive system problems
  • Circulatory issues
  • Musculoskeletal diseases

Injuries to the spinal cord directly or indirectly affect nearly every other bodily system, leading to higher rates of re-hospitalization than those who sustain other types of traumatic injuries.

Lowered Life Expectancy Due to a Spinal Cord Injury

Unfortunately, those who sustain a spinal cord injury suffer higher mortality rates and a lowered life expectancy than those who do not. In most cases, spinal cord injury victims suffer from a range of health problems indirectly associated with the spinal cord trauma. The NSCISC database has now been following some spinal cord injury victims for up to 45 years after their injury, which has allowed for an extensive understanding of life expectancy and causes of death.

The causes of death that appear to have the greatest impact on spinal cord injury victims’ life expectancy are pneumonia and septicemia. Over the last few decades, the mortality rate for spinal cord injury victims has been declining when it comes to death caused by cancer, stroke, heart disease, urinary diseases, digestive diseases, and suicide. Unfortunately, mortality rates have been increasing for spinal cord injury victims due to endocrine, metabolic and nutritional diseases, nervous system diseases, musculoskeletal disorders, accidents, and mental disorders.

Spinal cord injury victims almost always have a lower life expectancy than those who have not suffered such injuries, regardless of the severity of the initial spinal cord injury. However, data shows that the more severe the injury, the lower a patient’s life expectancy will be.

Proving Liability in a Spinal Cord Injury Case

Anytime a spinal cord injury is caused by the careless or negligent actions of another person, entity, or business, one of the most important things will be to establish liability. Spinal cord injuries will need to prove various elements in order to recover compensation in these cases. This includes showing that the at-fault party owed a duty of care to the victim. Victims must then show that there has been a breach of duty.

For example, vehicle drivers owe a duty of care to other drivers and passengers around them on the roadway. If they fail to operate a vehicle safely (i.e. drunk or distracted driving), then they have breached their duty to others around them. After showing that a duty of care existed and that the duty was breached, a victim will need to show that the breach of duty caused the accident that resulted in the spinal cord injury.

This is just one example of how these cases could arise and how liability could be proven. Every case is different. Other spinal cord injury cases may involve employer negligence or medical malpractice. However, the basic fundamentals of each case will remain the same – duty, breach, injuries, and damage.

Is there a Time Limit for Spinal Cord Injury Claims?

Each state is responsible for setting a time limit on how long victims have to file lawsuits against alleged negligent parties to recover damages. In California, the statute of limitations for these claims is typically two years from the date the injury occurred. The statute of limitations for spinal cord injuries caused by medical negligence is three years from the date the injury occurred or from the date that the medical negligence was discovered.

It is vital to keep these statutes of limitation in mind when pursuing claims to secure compensation. A skilled Sacramento spinal cord injury lawyer will ensure that all claims are filed on time and that all court deadlines are met.

Contact a Sacramento Spinal Cord Injury Attorney to Help

If you or somebody you love has sustained a spinal cord injury that was caused by the negligence of another person, company, or entity, seek legal assistance as soon as possible. At Rosenthal Law, our skilled and experienced team will get to work investigating every aspect of your case in order to secure the compensation you need. We will not hesitate to take on aggressive insurance carriers, and we have no problem taking your case all the way to trial if necessary. When you need a Sacramento spinal cord injury lawyer, you can contact us for a free consultation of your case by clicking here or calling (916) 774-7200.