The experienced Austin spinal cord injury lawyers at Whitehurst, Harkness, Brees, Cheng, Alsaffar, Higginbotham, and Jacob, PLLC, are available to investigate cases on behalf of people who have suffered serious injuries to the spine. We recognize that spinal cord injuries are among the most traumatic personal injuries, as they can dramatically change a person’s life forever.
Our spine injury attorneys have the experience, the skill, and the resources to provide aggressive representation for individuals and families devastated by spinal cord injuries. We have extensive experience in a broad range of catastrophic spinal cord injuries caused by medical malpractice, auto accidents, aviation accidents, traumatic falls, and more.
If you or a family member has suffered a serious spinal cord injury caused by the negligence of another, contact our law offices for a thorough evaluation of your case. We will provide you with an honest assessment, and will fight tirelessly on your behalf at every stage of the process.
Spinal Cord Injury Causes
Spinal cord injuries can occur as a result of many things:
- trauma, such as a car accident or falls
- surgical errors or surgical mishaps
- failure to diagnose cauda equina syndrome
- failure to diagnose nerve compression or spinal cord compression
- failure to diagnose a spinal cord hematoma
Common Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
When the spinal cord is damaged, the injury is generally classified as either a complete or incomplete injury. When the injury is complete, the brain can no longer transmit signals through the spinal cord to the areas of the body beyond the injury. This results in paralysis at and below the location of the injury, and typically the loss of the bodily functions that take place in organs below this area as well. Therefore with a complete injury, the level of function that the victim retains is greatly affected by which portion of the spine (e.g. cervical, thoracic, lumbar) is damaged.
With an incomplete injury to the spinal cord, the brain’s ability to transmit signal below the injury site is reduced but not completely eliminated. Incomplete injuries are typically caused by an injury where the spinal cord is or has been partially compressed. The nature and severity of an incomplete spinal cord injury varies greatly from person to person.
Spinal cord injuries typically fall into one of three classifications, tetraplegia, paraplegia, or triplegia, based on which portion of the spinal cord is injured.
- Tetraplegia is the term for an injury to the cervical (upper) spinal cord and is also known as quadriplegia. The cervical spine starts at the base of the skull and extends to the top of the ribcage. Injuries to the cervical spinal cord are often the most severe, with the victim typically experiencing full or partial paralysis of all four limbs. Injuries higher on the cervical spinal cord tend to correlate with more severe symptoms. All bodily processes below the injury may be affected, leaving the patient with impaired control of bladder, bowel, breathing, and other functions.
- Paraplegia is the result of damage to the thoracic or mid-section of the spinal cord. The thoracic spine extends the entire length of the ribcage. With paraplegia, the patient suffers paralysis of the legs. Again, damage higher on the thoracic spinal cord tends to cause more severe injuries than damage to lower areas of the thoracic spinal cord.
- Triplegia is the term for incomplete spinal cord injury. Those with triplegia may experience loss of sensation of paralysis on one side of the body and not the other and may lose movement in both legs but only one arm.
Protecting the Injured and Their Families
We believe that when a person’s negligence or recklessness results in another’s personal injury, the negligent person should be held accountable. In addition to severe physical pain, accident victims who sustain spinal cord injuries may also suffer life-changing damages such as:
- Permanent disability
- Paralysis of the arms, legs, or lower body
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Sexual dysfunction
- Loss of feeling, numbness, and/or tingling in the arms, legs, or other body parts
- Uncontrolled muscle spasms
In addition to physical challenges, spinal injury victims may also face significant financial loss and emotional suffering. Financial loss may be associated with:
- Expensive medical care
- Long-term treatments and medical costs
- 24-hour care in cases of paralysis and other disabilities
- Costly equipment to help with physical challenges, such as wheelchairs and/or prosthetics
- Modifications to the home or to automobiles
- Loss of income due to an inability to pursue a normal course of employment
- Loss of economic support for family members
Emotional loss can be just as traumatic as the physical and financial loss, as the victim and his/her family will need to adjust to new challenges. Patients may experience different emotions as they try to adjust and come to terms with their injury. Emotions may include:
- Depression, which may be characterized by extreme sadness, change in sleep patterns, change in appetite, lost hope, or feelings of worthlessness
- Grief over the loss of physical ability
- Shame or embarrassment related to loss of function
- Extreme anger or rage, which may cause a person to lash out
- Decrease in quality of life
A spinal cord injury is one of the most traumatic injuries a person can experience. The effects of such an injury on accident victims are life changing and usually permanent.
Your Spinal Cord Case
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury to the spine as a result of someone else’s recklessness in causing car accidents or negligence, we will fight to obtain compensation which will help cover past and future medical bills and loss of income. You may also be able to recover financial compensation for the pain and suffering, mental anguish, and physical impairment that often comes with a serious injury to the spine.
In order to evaluate the viability of your case, we request that you gather the following documents: medical records, medical invoices, bills, correspondence from the insurance company, doctors, hospitals, etc. If you have lost wages as a result of your injury, you will also need to provide tax documents as evidence of lost wages.
An Austin back injury lawyer from our firm will review every detail of your case with you. Together we will determine the best strategy for pursuing the compensation you deserve.
What causes spinal cord injuries?
Automobile accidents and other types of motor vehicle accidents are a very common cause of spinal cord injuries. Unfortunately, so is medical malpractice. Other causes include falls, industrial accidents, shootings, assaults, and diseases.
How much is a spinal cord injury lawsuit worth?
The value of a spinal cord injury lawsuit varies widely depending on the facts of your specific case. In cases involving serious injury, a document called a life care plan can be created to provide a dollar value for the future medical expenses, rehabilitation, and other future costs you will likely incur as a result of your injury.
If your spinal cord injury is caused by medical malpractice, the non-economic damages (e.g., pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, physical or mental impairment) related to your spinal cord injury case is capped by law as follows:
- $250,000 for all health care providers other than a health care institution (like a hospital);
- $250,000 against a single health care institution;
- $250,000 for each additional health care institution;
It is rare for a case to involve more than one health care institution. Usually, the non-economic damage cap in a given case is either $250,000 or $500,000 total.
What damages are covered in spinal cord lawsuits?
Plaintiffs in spinal cord lawsuits can seek two types of damages: economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages refer to the actual expenses incurred as a result of the injury. This may include past and future medical bills, past and future lost earnings, rehabilitation, property damages, and any other out-of-pocket expenses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for pain and suffering, disfigurement, mental anguish, and impairment.
Can I sue for spinal cord injuries caused by a medical professional?
Yes, you can sue for injuries caused by a medical professional. If a health care provider fails to perform an action that another reasonably prudent medical provider would have performed in the same or similar circumstances OR if that provider takes an action that another prudent provider would not have performed in the same or similar circumstances, then the provider’s inaction or action rises to the level of negligence or malpractice.
For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact a spinal cord injury attorney from our law firm today.
You can look at our national reach page to see our success in states across the United States. You can also see our full results on our case results page. Here are some of the spinal cord injury cases that we have won on behalf of clients: