Baltimore Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer
If you are among the 243,000 to 347,000 Americans who face the many challenges of a spinal cord injury, you know that the day your accident happened was the end of the life you had lived up until that point, and the beginning of having to adjust to a new reality.
Spinal cord injuries are usually devastating, catastrophic events that require courage and patience as you work to build a future that may bear little resemblance to your past. About 17,000 new spinal cord injuries occur in the United States every year.
Many of these often catastrophic injuries are not caused by anything the victim did, but by the negligent, careless, or violent act of some other person. Having to face life with the serious disabilities that often come with a spinal cord injury probably seems horribly unjust to you—and it is. Why do you have to live with a disability that you had no part in causing?
Nothing can take away the terrible injustice, but the law does allow you some recourse against the individual or other party that caused your injury.
You have the right to make a claim for monetary recovery from the responsible party, and although the money will not give you your old life back, it can go a long way toward helping you get the medical treatment and therapy that will help you adjust to your post-injury limitations, as well as keeping the bills paid and providing for your family when you are unable to return to work.
The first step to obtaining the recovery that can provide you with a degree of security for your future is to establish a relationship with a skilled personal injury lawyer who has the experience and a record of success in obtaining settlements and jury verdicts in favor of seriously injured clients. In the Baltimore, Maryland area, contact the Baltimore personal injury attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras to learn about your legal options.
Some Facts and Statistics about Spinal Cord injuries in the United States
These are some facts and figures about spinal cord injuries in the United States provided by the National Spinal Injury Statistical Center, compiled from various sources:
- The average age at injury was 29 in the 1970s; today it is 42.
- Males account for a large majority of new spinal cord injuries—about 80 percent.
- Vehicle crashes are the number one cause of spinal cord injuries (38 percent), followed by falls (30.5 percent), acts of violence, mostly gunshot wounds (13.5 percent), sports injuries (9 percent), and medical errors (5 percent).
- The initial hospital stay for an SCI is now 11 days, followed by 35 days in rehabilitation.
- Incomplete tetraplegia is the most frequent type of spinal cord injury; next is incomplete paraplegia, followed by complete paraplegia, and then complete tetraplegia.
- Approximately 30 percent of those with spinal cord injuries will need to return to the hospital for further treatment at least once in any given year after the injury, for an average period of around 22 days. Genitourinary problems are the most frequent cause of having to return to the hospital.
- The average annual and lifetime expenses for health care and living costs that can be directly attributed directly to SCI vary significantly, depending on the person’s degree of impairment, educational level, and employment history prior to the accident. Typically, the lifetime costs of a spinal cord injury run from slightly over a million dollars to well over two million.
- Less than 12 percent of spinal cord injury victims are able to return to work within the first year following the injury. That number only goes up to 20 percent by year five.
- The average remaining life expectancy for individuals with SCI is below the average life expectancy of those without this type of injury; the largest number of deaths occur among the most seriously impaired, and in the first year after the injury. Pneumonia and septicemia are the most frequent causes of death.
How Spinal Cord Injuries Happen in Accidents in Baltimore, MD
Spinal cord injuries are common following serious car, truck, bicycle, motorcycle, boating, or slip-and-fall accidents. When an accident victim’s back strikes against something or suffers from serious strain in one of these accidents, the spine can flex beyond its normal range of motion, become misaligned, or have vertebrae broken.
This can result in serious damage to the accident victim’s nerves or to the spinal cord. the spinal cord controls the muscles in a person’s body, and when it is damaged in an accident, the accident victim may experience paralysis in certain areas of the body, along with other serious medical problems.
Typically, paralysis starts at the spine, affecting the rest of the body that connects to that point. Your spinal column is the main conduit between your brain and your body, and any injuries to the spinal cord usually prevent nerve signals from passing beyond that point. This means that anything below the point of injury could be affected by the injury.
Complete vs. Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are separated into “complete” or “incomplete” injuries depending on whether the injury completely disrupts the spinal cord or not. If the injury actually severs the spinal cord, the signal is completely cut off and the injury is called a “complete” spinal cord injury. If a misaligned spine or herniated disc compresses the spinal cord or the spinal cord is damaged but not completely severed, the injury is called an “incomplete” spinal cord injury.
With complete spinal cord injuries, paralysis is almost inevitable. These injuries are often difficult to repair since nerve tissue does not heal the same way that muscle, bone, or skin tissue does, and the nerves usually will not repair to their full capacity. Some advanced science has created treatments that can help, but a “cure” for paralysis does not exist for every injury.
Some incomplete spinal cord injuries do have a chance that the victim will regain function. In many cases, an incomplete injury is caused by misalignment of the spine or damage to the soft “disc” tissue that sits between vertebrae.
These issues can be fixed through surgery, therapy, massage, and other treatments, potentially ending the compression and allowing the spinal cord to regain function. Minimal damage can also sometimes be healed, allowing a damaged spinal cord to form new connections.
Complete injuries often sever the connection entirely, but many victims facing incomplete spinal cord injuries might have tingling or pain in their limbs instead of complete paralysis. They may also have reduced motor function instead of complete loss of function.
Types of Paralysis that May be Able to Get Compensation for
Paralysis keeps an accident victim from moving the affected body part and from feeling anything in that body part. Paralysis is common when the spinal cord injury severs the connection between the spine and the brain entirely or compresses the spinal cord to the point where no signals can pass.
This prevents your brain from signaling the body to move, and it prevents the nerves in your body part from being able to send signals back to your brain for processing. There are different types of paralysis, and these can usually be caused by different types of spinal cord injuries. Spinal cord injuries are often named based on whether they are “complete” or “incomplete” and where they are in the spine.
Depending on the seriousness of the accident, accident victims may suffer upper or lower body paralysis as a result of a spinal cord injury. When an accident victim experiences paralysis due to a spinal cord injury, the paralysis can take any one of the following forms:
- Monoplegia is where one limb is paralyzed.
- Hemiplegia is where both the arm and the leg on one side of the accident victim’s body are paralyzed.
- Paraplegia is where both legs are paralyzed.
- Tetraplegia or Quadriplegia is where both arms and legs are paralyzed.
Paraplegia vs. Tetraplegia
Paralysis resulting from a spinal cord injury is also classified according to the area of the body affected. When the injury is near the top of the spine, everything below that point is affected—all four limbs, as well as the diaphragm in many cases.
This is called tetraplegia or quadriplegia. When the diaphragm is involved, as it often is, a person with tetraplegia may need to use a ventilator to help with breathing.
An injury lower to the spine will only cause paralysis in the lower part of the body, while not affecting the arms and other functions of the upper body. This is called paraplegia.
How a Spinal Cord Injury Affects Lives
Spinal cord injuries are usually life-changing events that leave the victim with a loss of mobility and other physical functions, including loss of bowel and bladder control and loss of sexual function. As a result, the victim may experience difficulty finding a job and having intimate relationships.
As previously mentioned, life expectancy is reduced, especially among those requiring a ventilator, and depression is common. For those who enjoyed sports, dancing, and other physical activities before the accident, adjusting to the physical limitations of an SCI is especially difficult, and social isolation may result.
Treating Spinal Cord Injuries and Paralysis
Treatment of spinal cord injuries and paralysis can be both extensive and expensive, and many spinal cord injuries are medically irreparable. Medical treatment for victims of paralysis usually consists of helping the patient to live independently and improve their quality of life to the greatest extent possible.
The costs of treating someone with a spinal cord injury or paralysis injury depend largely upon the severity and location of the injury, the geographic location where the medical treatment took place, as well as the patient’s overall health.
Total costs for providing medical care and treatment to a spinal cord injury or paralysis victim can range anywhere from $300,000 to million dollars during the first year of treatment and over $3 million during the course of a person’s lifetime.
Damages Available in Baltimore Spinal Cord and Paralysis Injury Cases
Victims of spinal cord and paralysis injuries may be eligible to recover some or all of the following types of damages in their case:
- Payment of all related medical and physical therapy bills
- Compensation for lost wages and missed time from work
- Compensation for lost earning capacity
- Compensation for past, present, and future pain and suffering
- Payment for future medical procedures
- Compensation for emotional distress and mental anguish
- Compensation for loss of spousal support and companionship
- Costs of long-term or lifetime care at a nursing home or assisted living facility
The Baltimore spinal cord injury lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras can help you obtain all of the damages to which you may be entitled under the law.
Proving Injuries and Damages in Baltimore Spinal Cord Injury Cases
In order to recover monetary compensation in a spinal cord injury case, the injured accident victim must be able to show that the accident was a direct cause of the injuries and damages sustained in some kind of accident.
You can sue for many different types of accidents, such as car crashes, slip and fall accidents, workplace injuries, or lifting and carrying accidents. In a lawsuit, you will need to prove the injuries you faced, the extent of the damages the accident caused you, and the defendant’s fault in order to get compensation in your case.
Proving the injuries that you faced typically requires that a medical expert be brought on board. A medical expert, such as a doctor or other experienced healthcare provider, is necessary to causally connect the spinal cord or paralysis injury to the accident.
A medical expert will also be able to highlight all of the limitations that the accident victim may experience for the rest of their life and how those results will affect their quality of life. If the doctor who treated your injuries can testify on your behalf, they can also explain that these injuries were not preexisting conditions and that they can be linked to the injury you experienced.
Explaining the spinal injuries themselves and the medical impact of such injuries is often an important part of a spinal injury case, and it is important to work with a Baltimore personal injury lawyer who is experienced with these types of cases and can convey the seriousness of the injury to the jury. Your medical records will also provide good evidence of your injuries, as will your own testimony about how the injuries affected you.
A medical expert may also be able to estimate the need for – and the potential cost of – future medical care, treatment, and procedures, such as follow-up surgeries. You may also use financial experts in your case to predict the cost of these ongoing care needs.
In many cases, insurance companies try and undervalue catastrophic injury cases, hoping to pay out as little money as possible in satisfaction of the claim. the Baltimore spinal cord injury attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras understand the tricks and tactics that insurance adjusters routinely use to try and undervalue these claims and avoid paying out money.
Our attorneys will work hard to retain the best medical experts possible and gather all of the necessary medical evidence in order to successfully prove your case and maximize its value.
In many spinal cord injury cases, you can also claim damages for economic effects the injury caused you, such as lost wages and lost earning capacity. You can also make a monetary claim for the pain and suffering you faced. We explain these damages in depth below.
To hold the defendant responsible for your injuries, you must prove that they caused the injuries through negligence, carelessness, or recklessness. Sometimes, “freak accidents” happen without anyone to blame.
However, many car accidents, slip and falls, workplace injuries, and other accidents can be blamed on someone who failed to use the proper care or skill. If someone’s mistakes caused your injuries, evidence of that fault can support a claim against them in court.
Our attorneys will assemble evidence from your accident and fight to prove that the defendant was responsible so that we can help you get damages from them and their insurance companies.
Getting Legal Help for a Spinal Injury in the Baltimore, MD Area
If you have suffered a spinal cord injury, the costs of your medical treatment, rehabilitation, and ongoing care will be astronomical. Your ability to obtain the best possible treatment and to maintain some quality of life will hinge largely on the amount of money you are able to recover from the insurance company that covers the party responsible for your injury.
Insurance companies seldom pay on these large claims without a fight, so you will need an attorney who understands not only the many ways your life has been damaged, but also how insurance companies work. Choose a lawyer with experience in handling serious and catastrophic injuries and a record of success in obtaining awards for clients in these high-value cases, a skilled personal injury attorney like G. Randolph Rice.
With Randolph Rice’s help, you will first need to prove that your injury was caused by the other party’s negligence, and then will be able to claim compensation for both your economic damages—those that can be proven by bills, receipts, and employment records—and your non-economic damages, those that affect your quality of life: pain, suffering, disability, emotional distress, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of your life. In some extreme cases, a jury might also award punitive damages.
Free Case Consultation with Our Baltimore Spinal Cord Injury Attorney
At Rice law firm, we offer a free, no-obligation preliminary consultation and accept injury cases on contingency. You pay nothing at all until you receive money for your injuries. Call and schedule your appointment today. the quality of your future may depend on it. (410) 694-7291
Spinal cord injuries and paralysis are two of the most serious injuries that a person can sustain in a motor vehicle accident. According to recent statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 46% of all spinal cord injuries suffered each year in the United States are the result of motor vehicle accidents.
When a nerve in the spinal cord is severely damaged in a car or truck accident, the accident victim may end up completely or partially paralyzed. Serious spinal cord injuries can lead to paralysis, and when that happens, the accident victim may be totally unable to care for himself or herself. In those circumstances, the accident victim may require 24/7 care at a nursing home or assisted living facility.
If you or someone you love has sustained a spinal cord injury in Baltimore or become paralyzed in one or more body parts as a result of a motor vehicle driver’s negligence, you may be eligible to recover monetary compensation for all of your injuries, pain, suffering, and inconvenience.
The Baltimore spinal cord injury lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras have been representing victims of catastrophic injuries for many years and can help you recover the monetary compensation you need and deserve. For a free case consultation, contact us at (410) 694-7291.
Call Our Baltimore Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Today for a Free Case Evaluation
No one asks to be injured in an accident. the burden of proving spinal cord and paralysis injury cases is high, and you want a lawyer on your side who will aggressively advocate for your right to recover monetary compensation for the injuries and damages you sustained.
The Baltimore spinal cord injury lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras are skilled negotiators and litigators who will aggressively represent your interests and advocate for you throughout your case, from beginning to end. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a Baltimore, MD spinal cord injury lawyer, please call our Maryland personal injury lawyers today at (410) 694-7291.