Back and Neck Injuries
Millions of Americans suffer back and neck problems. The National Spinal Cord Injury Association stated that there are approximately 8,000 new spinal cord injuries every year. It is also estimated that as many as 450,000 Americans live with spinal cord injuries. If your back or neck problems are the result of an on-the-job injury or due to the carelessness of another, give us a call today for a free consultation.
As a firm, we concentrate on:
- complex personal injuries
- catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), brain damage,
- burn injuries,
- severely broken bones, and
- wrongful death.
- Quadriplegia / paraplegia
- All forms of spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Lower back damage
- Bulging discs
- Herniated discs
- Lumbar strains
Fighting for Fair Compensation
Our South Carolina spinal cord injury lawyers begin by reviewing the extent and severity of your spinal cord injury. While no two spinal cord injuries are ever the same, and damages in paraplegia and quadriplegia cases will naturally differ in many ways, spinal cord injuries cases seek the same type of compensation:
- past, present, and future wage losses;
- past, present, and future medical expenses;
- pain and suffering;
- emotional distress;
- embarrassment and humiliation;
- physical, emotional, and psychological injuries; and
- attendant care costs coupled with special medical equipment costs.
Medical advances for treating spinal cord injuries through rehabilitation have paved the way for victims to transition back to a productive lifestyle while living with various limitations. Cases involving spinal cord injuries are major commitments requiring a significant investment of attorney time and resources. Our challenge as your South Carolina spinal cord injury lawyer is to make sure that you receive adequate compensation for your injuries both current and future.
Factors to Consider for Trial
If the need arises, the Strom Law Firm will be prepared to take your case to trial. As each spinal cord injury victim will have unique needs, “humanizing” your case requires special attention be given to each individual need. Life expectancy must be taken into account when evaluating any spinal cord injury case.
Similarly in spinal cord injury cases, bowel and bladder control may be non-existent and concerns of potentially life threatening infection arise. It is not uncommon for orifices to be tightly closed, necessitating the use of suppositories. Catheters are required for voiding, along with a “void bag” or other such depository.
Concern of infection also arises from the risk of development of decubitus ulcers or pressure sores, a development that is potentially life threatening, but avoidable with proper care. These sores are caused by prolonged external pressure, and a spinal cord injury victim with limited mobility is naturally at a greater risk for the development of sores.
Moreover, the continued pressure on the particular point causes impairment of blood supply, depriving tissue of nutrition, causing tissue breakdown and the development of painful sores and potential infection.
Surgery is often necessary for spinal cord injury victims. Protocol of most hospitals requires continual hourly turning of most victims of quadriplegia. A wrinkled sheet or underwear not perfectly even is a potential cause for the development of a pressure sore. With limited mobility, each spinal cord injury victim is at risk for death. Medical equipment and sufficient attendant care is imperative for the victim’s quality of life and counsel is cautioned to keep in mind the necessity to tend to these issues to avoid a shortened life expectancy.
Spinal cord injuries are devastating. The temporary and permanent physical changes can have detrimental effects on the victim and often times, without proper intervention, a victim can lose the will to live. Psychiatric intervention is imperative in such cases. Mental evaluations must be required to cater to any significant neuronal damage, and potentially issue any necessary medications.
With spinal cord injury cases there are times when children may have a valid cause of action when a parent sustains an injury, or vice-versa, whether the parent may maintain a cause of action where the child sustains the injury.
Loss of Consortium
Loss of consortium or “trauma to the marital relationship” acknowledges that a spouse may not be capable of performing those tasks as previously performed, as the loss of consortium is being recognized in most jurisdictions.
The claim of loss of consortium establishes the right of one spouse to state a cause of action for loss of companionship, emotional support, love, and sexual relations caused by a negligent or intentional injury to the other spouse by a third party. Historically, damages for loss of consortium were not viewed with favor. Today, though, almost all jurisdictions universally recognize these claims.
Loss of Enjoyment
Spinal cord injuries are surrounded by emotions unfathomable to those not impaired. Pain and suffering, emotional distress, embarrassment and humiliation, depression, and the loss of enjoyment for life are significant elements of damage in spinal cord injury cases that need to be considered when expressing the plaintiff’s damages.
Spinal cord injury victims are trapped in a body that does not work, losing the ability to perform the most simplistic tasks. And while feeling to certain parts of the body may have been lost, pain may nonetheless be experienced elsewhere. For example, bed sores which have developed in an area with sensory awareness will be as painful to the spinal cord injury victim as anyone else.
Compensation Factors to Consider
Rehabilitation should commence immediately, to help avoid a spinal cord injury victim falling into extreme depression, frustration, and at times, a lack of a will to live. In this case, expert testimony should be used to validate depression and the emotional well being of the spinal cord injury victim. Psychiatrists, psychologists, and neuropsychologists should be utilized to discuss the diagnosis of depression, the impact of medication and the prognosis of the plaintiff’s emotional condition.
Physical disabilities in a spinal cord injury case can be devastating. The true invisible injury, however, the general damages, is no less disheartening to endure. Extensive time must be spent by counsel in order for the extent of the general damages to be understood and communicated to the jury.
Spinal cord injury cases require the need for a life care planner, a specialist who will coordinate with all of the plaintiff’s doctors in order to create a clear medically probable future care plan. As with wage loss, a forensic economist must take the findings of the life care plan and place a value on the services, taking into account the rising costs of medical assistance. The future payment stream is likewise relegated to present value for benefit of judge and jury.
Loss of Earning Capacity
Spinal cord injury victims face the hard reality of the potential inability to work. This issue needs to be evaluated with expert rehabilitation specialists and forensic economists to help prepare a proper presentation of a client’s wage loss or loss of earning capacity.
Rehabilitation specialists will assess the injured to determine what skills still exist and what occupational options are still available, if any. The specialist will also consult with the client’s doctors, as well as review any necessary medical records to better evaluate the potential for future employment.
Rehabilitation counselors will investigate the client’s pre-injury course of employment, and depending on the client’s age, other relevant educational factors are considered in order to effectively assess the probable occupational options. Ultimately, the goal is to keep the client on the same educational and professional paths that were intended before the spinal cord injury occurred, within reason.
While in most spinal cord injury cases, employment will not be allowed, and it rarely, if ever, benefits a client to claim a total wage loss where some employment opportunities exist. For that reason, unless counsel is sure that employment would be prohibited, given the extent of injury, proper work-up of a spinal cord injury case necessitates a strong vocational rehabilitative specialist.
Though no one is able to predict with absolute accuracy the exact job and pay that the client would have definitely pursued if not for the spinal cord injury. While the estimate becomes easier when the client’s injury occurred at a later age in life, the economist must testify as to the client’s likely losses based upon the probable career path or paths.
For minors, the economist will determine the lifetime wage loss based on expected pre-morbid educational accomplishment. Meaning an economist, to a reasonable degree of economic probability, will determine what an individual in a given area of the country could expect to make if that individual were to graduate from high school or college without having suffered from a spinal cord injury. Projected earnings will be adjusted accordingly if the minor’s parents achieved graduate or post-graduate college level education.
Call Our Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers Today for a Free Consultation
The Strom Law Firm, L.L.C. will work with appropriate experts and treatment teams in order to address each of the issues relevant to a particular case: psychiatrists, neurologists, orthopedics, psychologists, neuropsychologists, speech, occupational and physical therapists, and many others.