West Virginia Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers
A spinal cord injury caused by a motor vehicle collision, a slip and fall, or any type of accident can result in pain and limitations that affect an individual’s life, job, and financial well-being. If your spinal cord injury was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may have the right to demand compensation for your medical bills, missed income, and other losses related to the accident.
If you or your loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury caused by someone else’s carelessness or misconduct in West Virginia, the attorneys of Jividen Law Offices, PLLC can help you pursue the compensation you need to cover your medical expenses move forward with your life.
Contact us today to find out more in a free initial case review.
How to Detect a Spinal Cord Injury
When doctors suspect a possible spinal cord injury (SCI), the methods they use to rule out other possibilities depend on the patient’s condition. For example, if a person is awake and alert, the physicians might begin by asking them questions about the accident and performing a physical evaluation.
The American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) exam is the standard physical exam used to evaluate SCI patients. This ASIA exam tests motor function, sensory response, and muscle control throughout the body to detect and classify SCIs.
If the injured person is unconscious, incapable of responding, or severely injured, healthcare providers might conduct one of the following tests:
- Spinal X-rays or myelograms – When doctors take X-rays, electromagnetic waves create images of the inside of the body that can be used to detect spinal fractures or other problems. Myelograms use injectable dyes in addition to X-rays to reveal problems in the spinal canal.
- Computerized tomography (CT) scans – CT scans create sequences of cross-sectional images of the body. These images can be used to create two-dimensional or three-dimensional renderings of bones, soft tissues, and other structures.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests – An MRI test uses magnetic and radio waves to create digital images of internal injuries. MRI tests can help detect signs of blood clots, herniated discs, and spinal cord compression.
- Somatosensory evoked potential (SSEP) tests – SSEP tests use mild electrical currents to measure how quickly signals move through the nervous system. Slower signal movement could indicate spinal cord injuries.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Most spinal cord injuries are caused by damage to structures, such as the bones or connective tissues in the vertebral column. The most serious injuries cause direct trauma to the spinal cord itself.
Common causes of spinal cord injuries include:
- Car and truck wrecks – Motor vehicle collisions involving passenger cars and commercial trucks are a leading cause of SCIs. A traffic collision can cause mild or severe spinal injury depending on the vehicles’ speed upon impact
- Motorcycle and bicycle accidents – Motorcyclists and bicyclists are extremely vulnerable because their vehicles lack protective enclosures. A rider thrown over the handlebars upon impact may land on his or her head and suffer a cervical spinal injury.
- Pedestrian accidents – Pedestrians are vulnerable when crossing an intersection or walking along the road. When a motor vehicle collides with someone on foot, the pedestrian might sustain blunt-force trauma or crushing injuries that lead to SCI.
- Slip and falls – Slip and falls are another common cause of spinal injuries. When people slip or trip on slippery surfaces, broken staircases, or objects on the floor, the resulting falls can lead to severe trauma to the back, neck, and spinal cord.
- Sporting accidents – High-impact and contact sports such as football, basketball, soccer, skiing, surfing, and horseback riding all come with high risks of spinal injuries. Diving into shallow water is a common contributing factor to cervical spinal cord injuries.
- Workplace accidents – Workers in environments with heavy machinery, open ledges, and falling or flying objects are especially susceptible to SCI. Many workplace spinal injuries occur due to machinery accidents or falls from heights.
- Medical and surgical complications – Patients who sustain a spinal injury due to a health care provider’s failure to adhere to the recognized standard of care may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim.
- Acts of violence – A significant percentage of spinal cord injuries are caused by acts of violence. The most common violent encounters that leave victims with SCI are gunshots and stabbings.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord is a delicate structure vulnerable to many kinds of injuries. The majority of injuries fall into two main categories. The first is complete spinal cord injuries, which are the most severe. Complete SCIs involve direct damage to the spinal cord and results in the complete loss of sensory and motor function below the level of the injury.
Incomplete SCIs involve damage to surrounding structures that compress the spinal cord. This type of trauma reduces sensory and motor function below the injury site but may not eliminate function completely.
Conditions that might result from incomplete or complete SCI include:
- Anterior cord syndrome – A condition that results from incomplete spinal cord injuries affecting the anterior, or front, of the spinal cord. Patients with anterior cord syndrome typically have limited or no movement and only some sensation.
- Central cord syndrome – When the center of the spinal cord is damaged, patients might develop central cord syndrome. This condition is characterized by loss of fine motor skills, arm paralysis, and partial function in the legs.
- Brown-Sequard syndrome – This condition is caused by damage on the left or right side of the spinal cord. This type of injury often limits function on only one side of the body while the other side remains unaffected.
- Tetraplegia – A complete or near-complete injury to the segment of the spinal cord in the neck causes this condition, also known as quadriplegia. Tetraplegia patients typically become fully or mostly paralyzed in all limbs. It might also affect bladder control, bowel control, and respiration.
- Paraplegia – Paraplegia is a condition characterized by limited or no sensation or movement in the legs and lower half of the body. Injury to the section of the spine in the torso typically causes paraplegia.
- Triplegia – Triplegia often results from incomplete spinal cord injuries in the upper region of the spinal cord. Triplegia involves paralysis and loss of sensation in both legs but only one arm.
Who’s Liable for My Spinal Cord Injury?
To make a successful spinal cord injury claim, you and your West Virginia spinal cord injury attorney must demonstrate that another party was at fault. Depending on the nature of the SCI, any of the following individuals or entities could be liable:
- Drivers – If a motorist is distracted, intoxicated, or otherwise negligent behind the wheel, they could be liable if they cause an accident that results in a spinal cord injury.
- Cyclists or pedestrians – Bicycle riders and people on foot must obey the rules of the road just like motorists. If a cyclist or pedestrian makes an unsafe maneuver and causes a wreck, they could be partially or fully liable for an accident.
- Violent individuals – Individuals who commit assaults, domestic abuse, or other violent acts could be civilly and criminally liable for their behavior. Speak to a spinal cord injury lawyer to find out more.
- Employers – If you suffered a back injury at work or another person caused your SCI in a work-related accident, your employer’s worker’s compensation insurance may cover your injuries or another at-fault party working on the same job site could be financially responsible.
- Property owners or managers – When an SCI occurs because of unsafe conditions on a property, the owner or manager of the property may be held liable for injuries caused by negligent maintenance or security.
- Negligent manufacturers – Some spinal cord injury lawsuits involve injuries caused by unsafe or malfunctioning products. If a design defect or manufacturing defect caused the spinal injury, the manufacturer may be financially liable.
Compensation You Can Recover from a Spinal Cord Injury Claim
The impact of a spinal cord injury goes beyond physical limitations. SCI patients can face exorbitant medical bills, loss of work, and diminished qualify of life. With the help of a knowledgeable spinal cord injury attorney, you can file a spinal injury claim demanding compensation for:
- Medical expenses – You may seek compensation for the necessary costs of any present and future medical care you need to treat your SCI
- Lost wages and earning potential – If your spinal injury prevents you from returning to work, you may seek compensation for losses in your income and long-term earning potential.
- Pain and suffering – You may seek compensation for your physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, and losses in quality of life you endured due to a spinal injury
- Punitive damages – In certain circumstances, you may seek punitive damages for extremely reckless or intentionally malicious conduct to discourage similar behavior in the future
The back injury compensation claim amounts you’re owed vary widely. That’s why it is crucial to contact an experienced back injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Contact a West Virginia Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer
For more than 35 years, our small law firm has earned a big reputation for securing life-changing results for West Virginians. We offer free initial consultations and charge nothing in fees to begin work on your case, so contact us now to speak with our team.