Melbourne Paraplegic Injury Lawyers
The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCSC) reports that over 300,000 people in the United States are living with a spinal cord injury and there are almost 18,000 new spinal cord injuries each year. Of those living with a spinal cord injury, 40 percent are suffering from a paraplegic injury and the remaining 60 percent are considered quadriplegic. If a paraplegic injury was caused, in whole or in part, by the negligent or wrongful conduct of another party (or parties), a victim may be entitled to compensation for the physical, emotional, and financial devastation the injury caused. The experienced Melbourne paraplegic injury lawyers at Layman Law Firm, P.L. are committed to identifying the parties responsible for a paraplegic injury and aggressively pursuing compensation for the injured victim.
What Is a Spinal Cord Injury?
A paraplegic injury starts with an injury to the spine. The human spine is truly amazing. Made up of bones called vertebrae, the spinal cord runs through the spine. That cord is made up of bundles of nerves that carry messages from your brain to all parts of your body and from the parts of your body back to your brain. Our ability to do everything from feeling the heat coming off a hot stove to standing upright and walking depends on a functioning spinal cord. A spinal cord injury, caused by a bruise, tear, or complete severing of the spinal cord can lead to serious injury, including paraplegia.
The section of the spine injured will directly impact what part of the body is affected. Cervical spine injuries affect the head and neck and can result in the most severe spinal injury. Injury to the thoracic spine impacts the upper chest, mid-back, and abdominal muscles but usually will not affect movement in the arms and hands. Lumbar spine injuries affect the hips and legs and typically impact the ability to walk while sacral spinal cord injuries impact the hips, back of the legs, buttocks, and pelvic organs but typically does not prevent walking.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
Most spinal cord injuries can be divided into complete or incomplete injuries. An incomplete spinal cord injury occurs when there is partial damage to the spinal cord and can interfere with sensation and movement, the extent of which can vary. A complete spinal cord injury causes permanent damage to the area of the spinal cord that is affected and results in paraplegia or tetraplegia.
The severity of a spinal cord injury is referred to as “the completeness.” A spinal injury is considered complete if all feelings and ability to control movement are lost below the spinal cord injury. An incomplete spinal injury occurs when some motor or sensory function remains below the affected area.
When a spinal cord injury causes paralysis, it can be classified as follows, depending on the area affected and the severity of the paralysis:
- Tetraplegia. Also known as quadriplegia, this occurs when there is paralysis of the arms, hands, trunk, legs, and pelvic organs.
- Diplegia: When paralysis occurs on the same area on both sides of the body, such as both arms or both sides of the face.
- Hemiplegia: Paralysis on one side of the body.
- Monoplegia: Paralysis of one limb.
- Paraplegia: Paralysis that affects both legs and may impact the torso.
What Are the Common Causes of Paraplegic Injuries?
While stroke is the leading cause of all types of paralysis, traumatic injury to the spinal cord is the cause of almost one in three people living with paralysis, according to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. When a traumatic injury is the cause of paralysis, the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center tells us that the most common causes are:
- Vehicular 39.3%
- Falls 31.8%
- Violence (primarily gunshot wounds) 13.5%
- Sports/Recreation Activities 8.0%
- Medical/Surgical 4.1%
- Other 3.1%
Symptoms of a Paraplegic Injury
While a complete paraplegic injury will result in the loss of sensation and inability to move both legs, there are other symptoms a victim may suffer in addition to paralysis, such as:
- Partial loss of movement
- Loss of or altered sensation, including the ability to feel heat, cold, and touch
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Exaggerated reflex activities or spasms
- Changes in sexual function, sexual sensitivity, and fertility
- Pain or an intense stinging sensation caused by damage to the nerve fibers in your spinal cord
- Difficulty breathing, coughing, or clearing secretions from your lungs
How Is a Paraplegic Injury Treated?
Despite incredible advances in medicine and science over the last several decades, there is currently no way to repair a damaged spinal cord. Surgery may be required immediately following a spinal cord injury to evaluate the extent of the injury, set or stabilize fractured bones, and stabilize the remaining portion of your spinal cord. After the initial evaluation and stabilization period, treatment for a paraplegic injury focuses on preventing further injury, reducing inflammation, and rehabilitation to help a victim learn to live with the injury. Rehabilitation may involve physical and/or occupational therapy, learning to use a wheelchair and home modifications, and mental health counseling to help with the emotional trauma people often suffer after a paraplegic injury.
What Does It Cost to Live with Paraplegia?
A paraplegic injury often causes the victim immense physical pain and emotional trauma. The sudden inability to walk or feel anything in your legs is a life-changing injury. Between the medical bills and lost income, a spinal cord injury can also result in financial devastation for a victim and the victim’s family.
Figures published by the NSCSC indicate that the average length of an initial hospitalization following an acute spinal cord injury is 11 days with an additional 31 days, on average, in a rehabilitation unit. First-year expenses for a paraplegic injury average $550,381with an average lifetime cost for someone who suffers a paraplegic injury at age 25 being $2,450,234. Moreover, about three out of four (77%) of all spinal cord injury victims are unemployed ten years after suffering the injury.
Am I Entitled to Compensation for My Melbourne Paraplegic Injury?
When a traumatic event caused a paraplegic injury, it is often the case that negligent or wrongful conduct on the part of another party (or several parties) caused or contributed to that event. If so, the victim may be entitled to compensation for both the economic and non-economic damages suffered by the injured victim. Economic damages represent the objective, out-of-pocket expenses costs connected to the injury, such as:
- Medical expenses, including doctor, hospital, and therapist expenses
- Rehabilitation, in-home care, and long-term care costs
- Lost income or loss of earning capacity
- Specialized medical equipment
Non-economic damages represent the subjective, intangible injuries related to the paraplegic injury including things such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
Contact the Experienced Melbourne Paraplegic Injury Lawyers at Layman Law Firm, P.L.
If you suffered a paraplegic injury and you believe that another party caused or contributed to the accident that resulted in your injury, contact the experienced and compassionate Melbourne paraplegic injury lawyers at Layman Law Firm, P.L. to discuss your legal options. Contact the team today for your free initial consultation by calling 321-773-2111 or by filling out our convenient Intake Evaluation Form online.