A car accident can ruin your life. You take your health and well-being seriously. You follow the rules of the road, and you do not take unnecessary chances. This cannot be said of everyone who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle. If a reckless, inattentive, and negligent driver smashed into you, it can cause severe injuries, which can put you under serious financial strain.
A spinal cord injury is one of the worst kinds of injury you can suffer. It can leave you seriously debilitated. People have been known to lose their homes and fall into bankruptcy because of spinal cord injuries from auto accidents. Do not allow this to happen to you. If you have been injured in an accident, then you have the right to claim compensation. Contacting a Florida spinal cord injury attorney is the first step toward getting the financial support that you need.
Signs and Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury
There are different kinds of spinal cord injuries. A shock or bruising of the spinal cord is reversible. If you have suffered this kind of injury, you may feel pain and temporary paralysis but in time you will recover all mobility. This kind of injury presents itself as a localized pain to the neck or back. You may also feel numbness and weakness in the arms or legs.
The fracturing or severing of your spinal cord is much more serious. This kind of injury leads to complete loss of strength and sensation in the legs and other parts of the lower body. An upper cervical fracture can affect your breathing. You may also feel tenderness and experience spasms in the affected region. There is often swelling and visible bruising at the location of the break.
To get a better understanding of the scope and scale of the injury, your doctor will use imaging devices of various kinds, including a CT scan and an MRI test. The latter is used to assess the severity of nerve compression and injury to the spinal cord. The CT scan will allow doctors to discern the exact location of the fracture. In all cases, it is important to accurately assess the nature and extent of the spinal cord injury and stabilize the fractured vertebrae.
Spinal cord injury treatment can be broken down into the following categories:
1. Pre-hospital care
Spinal cord injuries from auto accidents can be made much worse if proper care is not taken at the accident scene. To avoid increasing the seriousness of the injury, you must be removed from the wreckage cautiously. The first responders should stabilize your neck and spine on a backboard before placing you in the ambulance.
2. Emergency room care
Once you reach the hospital, you will receive specialized drugs intravenously. You will need to be evaluated to diagnose the underlying cause of the spinal cord injury.
3. Operative and hospital care
The immediate and most urgent treatment may include surgical decompression or a closed reduction of cervical dislocation. Other, more specialized treatments are also available.
4. Rehabilitative care
Rehabilitation will need to begin immediately after the surgical period. You will need to do physical therapy at least twice a day in a facility or at home. In the severest cases—those with tetraplegia and quadriplegia—you will need life-long assistance and the help of in-home care. You may also have to take prescription drugs indefinitely.
Corpectomy and Discectomy
You will have to undergo surgery of some kind if your spinal cord has been badly damaged. Corpectomy and discectomy are two of the most common procedures. These more invasive surgeries allow patients to heal more fully from their injuries. You should only allow doctors who have extensive experience in carrying out these surgeries to work on you. The doctor who operates should have many successes under their belt. If not, then they should refer you to someone else.
A corpectomy involves the removal of all the vertebral bodies found in a spinal cord section. A discectomy involves the removal of only the damaged parts of a spinal cord. Before deciding which procedure is best, a surgeon will discern the source of the greatest pain to the patient. This can be done by doing CT scans and MRIs. The surgeon will also ask you to walk and move your limbs as part of the evaluation. They will also ask you to describe the pain.
The success rate of these surgeries has increased considerably in recent years. This has much to do with the advancements that have been made in orthopedic science and medicine. These surgeries help reduce pain. However, they do not come without risks, which include the following:
1. Nerve damage
Either type of surgery can lead to the inability to control your bladder and bowels. It can also harm your vocal cords which may lead to hoarseness when speaking. The nerve damage can be temporary or permanent. If it is permanent, then you may need to see a specialist.
2. Hip bone damage
Your hip can be destabilized during the operation. If that happens, you will have problems walking.
Further risks include:
- The formation of blood clots in the lungs or legs
- Paralysis in your arm or leg
- Infection near the bone grafts
- Excessive bleeding that leads to a heart attack or stroke
Other complications can occur. You may need to have further surgeries to correct new medical problems.
Fair Compensation for Spinal Cord Injuries From Auto Accidents
If you must undergo a series of extensive surgeries, it may be some time before you can go back to work. If the first surgery leads to a series of further surgeries to correct new problems, then it can be years before you are healthy enough to work. Your illness may take a toll that makes it impossible for you to resume life as you knew it. You may need to give up your livelihood permanently.
Disability comes in many forms. And even if you are not confined to a wheelchair for the rest of your life, your spinal injury can lead to the kind of complications that qualify as permanent disability.
You should not have to deal with the financial consequences of being in this situation all on your own. The person whose recklessness and negligence put you in this terrible condition should be made to pay.
The Florida spinal cord injury attorney you hire will do all that is necessary to get you the compensation you are entitled to. In the days and weeks after the accident, you may not be up to seeing anyone outside of your family. At some point, however, you should sit down with a lawyer and discuss your options for getting compensation.
The insurance company of the other driver should be held liable for such payment. If the other driver was clearly in the wrong, their insurance company may offer to settle the case. Their first settlement offer is likely to be a low-dollar figure. You should not accept it. In fact, you should not directly communicate or negotiate with the insurance company. Refer all such inquiries to your attorney. If the insurance company is not willing to offer an adequate settlement, then you will need to sue them.
The first thing your lawyer will do after speaking with you is to establish the value of your lawsuit. They will do so by reviewing your medical records, speaking to members of your medical team, and speaking to your family—to get a sense of the strain your injury has put on them.
Your lawyer will also strengthen the case against the other driver. They will not depend solely on the accident report. Your attorney will employ private investigators to gather additional evidence. The investigators will attempt to get copies of any traffic footage. They will also speak to people who witnessed the accident. Some people do not like dealing with the police but do not mind speaking to private investigators. The latter may get information that is crucial to proving your version of events. There may even be a witness who captured the entire accident on their cell phone camera.
Your lawyer will also bring in independent medical experts to evaluate your injuries and medical records. Such professionals can testify about the scale of your debilitation and your prognosis for recovery. Your attorney will also hire an accident reconstruction expert who can use the forensic evidence from the crash to build a computer simulation of it.
All this will be used to come up with a dollar figure. It is the dollar figure that your Florida spinal cord injury attorney will demand of the insurance company, and that they will hold to when entering negotiations. Your attorney will be the only one looking out for your interests, and they will fight to ensure that you are treated fairly.