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Trusted Spinal Cord Injury
Attorneys in Albany
Spinal cord injuries can cause lasting medical problems, ranging from chronic pain to paralysis. As a result, spinal cord injury victims may require extensive medical care, rehabilitation, adaptive equipment and ongoing personal assistance. They may need vocational training to return to work – if they are able to work at all.
At Powers & Santola, LLP, our spinal cord injury lawyers understand the challenges faced by those who suffer spinal cord injuries on the job or in accidents caused by another’s negligence. Since 1987, we have been helping spinal cord injury victims and their families to get their lives back on track.
We want to assist you as well. To learn more about your legal options after suffering a spinal cord injury in Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, or elsewhere in New York State, contact our injury law firm today. We can provide a free initial consultation about your case.
A Closer Look at
Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord serves as the core of the body’s nervous system. It links the brain to nerves throughout the body. It is protected by vertebrae. These are bones that make up the spinal column or backbone. A spinal cord injury may be caused by direct trauma to the spinal cord or damage to the vertebrae that irritates the spinal cord.
In most cases, paralysis – a loss of function – results from injury to the spinal cord. Symptoms appear below the point along the spinal column at which the injury occurs. The medical community describes spinal cord injuries as either:
- Complete – The victim suffers total loss of feeling and control over the body below the point of the injury; or
- Incomplete – Some movement or sensation remains below the point of the injury.
For instance, after a lower back (lumbar) injury, the victim may lose use of his or her legs. However, a neck (cervical) injury can cause paralysis from the shoulders or chest down, resulting in the loss of lung function and the need for a ventilator to breathe.
Paraplegia is paralysis that affects all or part of the legs and/or pelvic organs. Those with paraplegia have damage in the spinal cord’s thoracic (between neck and abdomen), lumbar (lower back) or sacral (hip, pelvis) regions.
Tetraplegia, which is sometimes called “quadriplegia,” involves paralysis of the arms, hands, trunk, legs and pelvic organs. People with tetraplegia have suffered an injury to one of the eight cervical segments of the spinal cord.
Loss of function due to paralysis can include:
- Bowel and bladder dysfunction
- Sexual dysfunction
- Inability to regulate blood pressure
- Inability to regulate respiration.
The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) reports that about 273,000 people in the U.S. are living with the ongoing consequences of a spinal cord injury. An estimated 12,000 new cases occur every year.
Damages in a
Spinal Cord Injury Case
Spinal cord injuries can have a devastating physical, emotional and financial impact on the lives of victims and their families. If a victim’s spinal cord damage was caused by the negligence of another, however, he or she may be able to pursue a personal injury lawsuit and seek a recovery of damages.
These funds won’t erase the harm that has been suffered. However, they can help a spinal cord injury victim to pay bills that may be piling up as well as to move on in life with a sense of security.
The amount of damages that can be recovered in a spinal cord injury lawsuit in New York will vary from case to case. Factors that can determine the recovery amount include the severity of the injury and the availability of insurance coverage.
It is crucial to work with an attorney who can examine all factors involved in a case and determine the damages amount that should be pursued in your case.
The personal injury lawyers of Powers & Santola, LLP, have the experience and legal skills that spinal cord injury victims and their families deserve. Since 1987, our firm has protected the rights of catastrophic injury victims in Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, and throughout New York. Contact us today to arrange a free consultation.
As we review your case, we will focus on damages that can generally be broken into three categories: Economic, non-economic and punitive.
To help you get a better understanding of what may be sought in your case, we present a closer look at each damages category.
Economic Damages in a Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit
A claim for economic damages is based on objective evidence such as bills, receipts and, perhaps, a statistical analysis prepared by an expert. This category of damages can be broken into two sub-categories:
- Past and Future Medical Expenses – If you have suffered spinal cord injury due to the negligence of another party, all reasonable and necessary medical (and other) expenses that are related to that party’s negligence should be fully covered.This includes emergency treatment, surgery, hospitalization, medication, rehabilitation and assistive devices. It may also include ongoing care – whether it is provided by a skilled nursing facility, home health aide or family member – and mental health counseling.The more severe a spinal cord injury is, the more expensive care and treatment will be. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) provides these estimates of “average yearly expenses” for spinal cord injuries:
Injury First Year Each Year After High tetraplegia (C1-C4) $1,023,924 $171,808 Low tetraplegia (C5-C8) $739,874 $ 109,077 Paraplegia $499,023 $66,106 Incomplete motor function $334,170 $40,589
Future costs also will depend on a person’s age at the time of the injury. For example, the NSCISC estimates that a person will face $2,221,596 in lifetime costs if he or she suffers paraplegia at age 25 and $1,457,967 if he or she suffers the condition at age 50.
- Lost Wages and Loss of Earning Capacity – You should also be compensated for all income you have lost due to your injury, including your salary and fringe benefits or self-employment income. Additionally, our firm can work with an economist to calculate how your spinal cord injury has damaged your ability to earn income in the years ahead.
Non-Economic Damages in a Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit
In contrast to economic damages, non-economic damages are – to a degree – subjective. However, objective evidence can still be used to arrive at the proper amount. These damages can be broken into three categories:
- Pain and suffering – These damages take into account the severity of pain a victim may have suffered, which may be substantial in a spinal cord injury case. Often, the amount in economic damages is multiplied to arrive at this figure.
- Mental anguish – These damages should reflect the trauma a spinal cord injury victim has experienced and any ongoing anxiety, depression or other mental health issues the victim experiences.
- Loss of consortium – These damages can cover the services a spouse would have provided if not for the injury. For example, if a spouse would have mowed the lawn every week, how much will it cost to hire a landscaping company to do so now? These damages also include lost comfort, affection and sexual relations.
Punitive damages – also called “exemplary damages” – may also be pursued in some spinal cord injury cases. These damages are not intended to compensate the victim. Instead, the purpose is to punish and deter one who has engaged in “intentionally harmful” or “willfully or wantonly negligent or reckless actions.”
Other Considerations in a Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit
Finally, you should take into account the following factors that may reduce the amount that can be recovered in a spinal cord injury claim in New York:
- Comparative fault – New York is a “pure” comparative negligence state. This means that your recovery could be reduced in proportion to the amount of fault attributed to you. For instance, if you suffer $1 million in damages, and you are 40 percent at fault, the most you could recover would be $600,000.
- Offsets – If your medical treatment has been paid by another provider, including a government program such as Medicare or Medicaid, the provider will seek to recover that amount from a settlement or verdict that you obtain.
- Costs and fees – Our law firm often represents personal injury victims on a contingency fee basis. This means that we will pay the costs of investigation and litigation, including expert fees, and we will not charge for our legal services unless we obtain a recovery for you. When a settlement or verdict is reached in a case, that amount will be deducted from a final recovery.
Paraplegia is paralysis that affects the legs and, in some cases, the trunk. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) estimates that 126,000 people in the U.S. suffer from paraplegia due to spinal cord injury.
Motor vehicle crashes, workplace accidents and medical malpractice can all cause spinal cord injuries that lead to paraplegia. If you are dealing with paraplegia due to a job-related event or the negligence of another, you may be able to obtain funds that will pay for your medical expenses and compensate you for your lost income, pain and suffering, and other losses.
At Powers & Santola, LLP, we assist those who have been injured in accidents in Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, and across New York State. Our firm’s work on behalf of our clients has been recognized by U.S. News, Best Lawyers in America and other publications. We can use our experience and resources to help you. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.
A Closer Look at Paraplegia
Paralysis impacts the area of the body below the point of a spinal cord injury. With paraplegia, the injury typically occurs in the thoracic (between neck and abdomen), lumbar (lower back) or sacral (hip and pelvis) areas of the spinal cord.
Paraplegia due to spinal cord injury may be complete (all sensation and mobility is lost) or incomplete (some feeling or ability to move is retained). Those with incomplete paralysis have a better chance of regaining some or all of their motor or sensory functions through physical therapy than those with complete injuries.
In addition to loss of movement or sensation, a paraplegia victim may suffer:
- Chronic pain
- Low blood pressure
- Reduced control of body temperature
- Dysfunction of the bowel and bladder
- Sexual dysfunction.
Even though spinal cord damage cannot be reversed, doctors can take steps to prevent further damage. Therapists can also help a paraplegic to live as full of a life as possible and focus on levels of activity that can be achieved.
A paraplegic typically will face lengthy hospitalization to stabilize the injury and rigorous therapy to build strength and adapt to a new life. He or she may need medication to control pain, muscle spasticity and bladder and bowel functions. A wheelchair will be required.
A person living with paraplegia may also face obstacles to a fulfilling professional and social life, including the ability to marry and have a family. Even among those who were married at the time of their spinal cord injury, the likelihood of the marriage remaining intact is slightly lower when compared to the general population, the NSCISC states.
The cost of required medical care and personal assistance for a quadriplegia victim can be overwhelming. This makes it crucial to seek help from an experienced attorney if you or a loved one suffers from quadriplegia due to the negligence of another, including injuries due to auto accidents, workplace events and medical negligence.
At Powers & Santola, LLP, we can provide the professional and personalized attention that your case demands. Since 1987, we have sought recoveries for victims of quadriplegia and other serious spinal cord injuries in Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, and across New York State. We want to help you as well. Call or contact us online today. We can review your case and discuss your legal rights and options in a free initial consultation.
A Closer Look at Quadriplegia
Quadriplegia prevents one from voluntarily moving the upper and lower parts of the body. An injury between the C1 vertebrae (the highest cervical or neck vertebrae) and the T1 vertebrae (highest thoracic vertebrae) generally results in quadriplegia.
Spinal cord injuries are described by the vertebrae where they occur and as complete (no sensation or movement) or incomplete.The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) estimates that 111,000 people in the U.S. suffer from incomplete quadriplegia, while 32,000 suffer from complete quadriplegia.
Incomplete paralysis differs from victim to victim. A person with incomplete quadriplegia may retain some feeling in affected body parts but have little or no movement. Others may have more movement than feeling.
Because the nerves that control a person’s essential body systems are damaged, these functions begin to shut down in those suffering from quadriplegia. They include:
- Respiratory system – Causing difficulty breathing
- Urinary or gastrointestinal systems – Resulting in bladder and bowel dysfunction
- Circulatory system – Leading to an inability to regulate blood pressure effectively
- Reproductive system – Causing sexual dysfunction.
With a combination of treatment and therapy, a person with a very high C1 to C3 injury might work toward limited movement of the head and neck. A person with a C8 to T1 injury might achieve the ability to move the shoulders, arms, hands and fingers as well.
The C1-C3 injury victim might need a ventilator to ensure he or she can breathe as well as a motorized wheelchair operated by head motion, mouth stick or chin control. The person will also need assistance with other daily living tasks. The C8 to T1 injury victim might use a manual wheelchair and live independently.
Spinal Injury FAQs
A successful personal injury lawyer will understand the medical facts of an injury claim, the emotional and physical challenges the client faces on a daily basis, and the legal aspects of liability. At Powers & Santola, LLP., our attorneys are well versed in each of these areas.
Our Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys
Pursue Compensation for Your Injuries
If you have suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident that happened at your workplace, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. If you have a spinal cord injury because of an accident that resulted from another person’s negligence, such as in a motor vehicle accident or medical procedure, our spinal cord injury attorneys may also be able to obtain relief through a personal injury claim.
Powers & Santola is available to help you. Our spinal cord injury lawyers have secured several multi-million-dollar settlements and verdicts on behalf of spinal cord injury victims in Rochester, Albany, Syracuse and throughout Upstate and Western New York. Examples of spinal cord injury cases we have handled include:
- $4.5 million recovery for an 18-year-old boy who suffered paraplegia when the car in which he was a seat-belted rear seat passenger left the road and struck a utility pole head-on, fracturing his spine. The injuries were caused by the “lap-only” style seatbelt that Chrysler had installed as standard backseat equipment in its pre-1989 vehicles.
- $4 million recovery for a 69-year-old construction worker who suffered a spinal cord injury with resulting paralysis while renovating a commercial building. He fell approximately 10 feet because he was not provided with adequate safety devices.
- $3 million recovery for a 63-year-old man whose spinal abscess was not timely diagnosed and treated, resulting in permanent paralysis.
- $2.5 million recovery for a 32-year-old woman who was permanently paralyzed as the result of being ejected from a motor vehicle in which she was riding as a passenger when the driver lost control of the vehicle, causing it to leave the road and roll over several times.
We carefully select cases so we can devote the full extent of our time and resources to developing strong cases for our clients’ financial recovery.
To learn more, call or contact us online today. Our initial consultations are always free.
Sources / Additional Information
- Mayo Clinic – Spinal Cord Injury
- WebMD – Spinal Cord Injury and Pain
- National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center – Spinal Cord Injury Facts and Figures at a Glance
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