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Albany Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers

spinal cord injury attorneys

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:

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:

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

damage to spinal cordSpinal 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:

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:

Punitive Damages

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:

Paraplegia

Albany & Syracuse Personal Injury LawyersParaplegia 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:

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.

Quadriplegia

Albany & Syracuse Personal Injury LawyersOne of the most frightening injuries imaginable is quadriplegia, or paralysis of all four limbs and the body’s trunk. The condition – also referred to as tetraplegia – typically arises from damage to the spinal cord in the neck.

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:

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.

How Do Spinal Cord Injuries Occur?

The spinal cord is the main connection between the brain and the rest of the body. It is also called the central nervous system (CNS) because it includes the collection of nerve fibers that transmits messages from the brain to the other parts of the body. When an injury occurs to the spinal cord, it affects both movement and sensation.

Most spinal cord injuries are the result of motor vehicle accidents, sports-related injuries, or in work-related accidents and falls from heights.

Within eight hours of a spinal cord injury, patients are typically given high doses of the steroid methylprednisolone to prevent degeneration of the cells and tissues in the spine. This is because studies have shown that much of the damage and paralysis that occurs following a spinal cord injury is the result of degeneration, rather than the initial accident. Spinal surgery is often necessary to stabilize the spine and to reduce swelling and inflammation, which can result in further damage to the nervous system.

When Does the Rehabilitation Process Begin?

As soon as the patient is medically stable, rehabilitation will begin. The main goal of rehabilitation is to provide the injured person with the skills he or she will need to function as independently as possible. Rehab can be provided as an inpatient or outpatient service at the hospital, at a rehab facility, or at home by professionals, family members, or the patient him/herself, after proper training.

Education is an important part of the rehab process. Understanding how and why pressure sores (bed sores) occur, practicing proper bladder and bowel management, and learning about diet and exercise is all part of the rehabilitation process.

A rehabilitation plan is highly individualized. An evaluation is conducted during the initial hospital stay to determine the most appropriate place for the patient to continue the recovery process. In severe injury cases, the patient may spend several months in a specialized rehab facility. Even after the formal rehab program is completed, the injured person is encouraged to participate in an ongoing exercise program to ensure that the progress made during rehab is maintained.

The Emotional Component of Life After a Spinal Cord Injury

During the hospital phase of recovery, the injured person is surrounded by family, friends and dedicated professionals, all of whom provide encouragement and support. Patients usually respond positively to this and push themselves to achieve goals greater than expected, and at a faster pace that predicted.

Over time, as progress slows and the outpouring of emotional support diminishes, the injured person begins to have feelings of hopelessness, denial, anger, confusion, fear and defeat. These feelings are normal and are experienced by an estimated 10,000 Americans who suffer, and survive, acute spinal cord injuries and paralysis each year.

While difficult emotions are a normal part of the recovery process, they can interfere with achieving maximum recovery. It is important for the patient to know s/he is not alone. Spinal cord injury groups and associations exist to educate and support those in recovery.

Do People with Spinal Cord Injuries have Special Civil Rights?

“Disability is a natural part of the human experience and in no way diminishes the right of individuals to live independently; enjoy self-determination; make choices; contribute to society; pursue meaningful careers; and enjoy full inclusion and integration in the economic, political, social, cultural and educational mainstream of American society.”

This quotation from The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended in 1992, expresses the clear intent of Congress that persons with disabilities should not be excluded from participating in all aspects of public life. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 states that disabled persons have a right to reasonable accommodations in employment and education, and access to public facilities and public and private transportation systems, telecommunications and government services.

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:

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.

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