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Philadelphia Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer

An estimated 12,500 spinal cord injuries occur in the United States every year. Injuries range in severity from temporary bruising to complete paralysis or even death. When you or a loved one suffer harm due to negligence, the Philadelphia spinal cord injury lawyers at Youman & Caputo can help.

Philadelphia Spinal Cord Injury Resources

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Spinal Cord Anatomy
Spinal Cord Injury Categorization
What Are Common Types of Spinal Cord Injuries?
Potential Lasting Effects of a Serious Injury
How Long Does it Take for a Spinal Cord Injury to Heal?
Lifelong Costs of an Injury to the Spine
How Do These Accidents Occur?
When Should You Seek Legal Advice?
Time is of the Essence in Catastrophic Injury Cases
Litigating a Spinal Cord Injury Case
How a Philadelphia Spinal Cord Injury Attorney Can Help
What Damages Can You Potentially Recover?
How Much is Your Lawsuit Worth?
What Should I Do if I Sustain a Spinal Cord Injury?
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Spinal Cord Anatomy

The spinal cord is a column of nerves stretching from the base of your brain down to your tailbone. It is protected by both a sheath of myelin and your spinal column, which consists of 31 vertebrae.

The spinal cord is separated into four distinct regions:

  • The cervical spinal cord (brain and neck area)
  • Thoracic spinal cord (upper back)
  • Lumbar spinal cord (lower back)
  • Sacral spinal cord (tailbone area)

Spinal Cord Injury Categorization

Injury to the spinal cord is generally categorized as either complete or incomplete. A complete injury means the spine is fully severed or compromised, eliminating function entirely below the level of injury, whereas an incomplete injury means the spine is partially severed or compromised, retaining some function below the injury level.

Forty percent of spinal cord injuries are complete, while the remaining sixty percent are incomplete.

Often, the difference between a complete injury (or incomplete injury with permanent loss of function) and an incomplete injury (with full return of function) is how quickly the cause of spinal cord compromise is diagnosed and treated.

philadelphia spinal cord injury lawyer

What Are Common Types of Spinal Cord Injuries?

The most common types of spinal cord injury are tetraplegia (affecting all limbs), paraplegia (affecting function below the waist) and triplegia (affecting one arm and both legs). Damage can be to the front of the spinal cord (anterior cord syndrome), the center of the spinal cord (central cord syndrome) or to one side of the spinal cord (Brown-Sequard syndrome).

There are additional variations of injury and spinal cord injury syndromes, including the often misdiagnosed cauda equina syndrome, which usually presents as severe back and/or leg pain combined with urinary or bowel dysfunction.

Potential Lasting Effects of a Spinal Cord Injury

A spinal cord injury is classified as a catastrophic injury due to its long-term and often permanent effects. While not all spinal cord injuries result in irreversible paralysis, severe and complete spine injuries often do. Although every patient is unique, many spinal cord injury survivors share similar experiences post-injury. Damage to the spinal cord in any degree can come with a risk of serious and life-changing effects, such as:

  • Chronic pain
  • Nerve damage
  • Thermoregulation problems
  • Low blood pressure
  • Respiratory complications
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Urinary and bowel issues
  • Muscle spasticity
  • Pressure ulcers (bedsores)
  • Infections
  • Osteoporosis
  • Bone fractures
  • Emotional and psychological effects
  • Higher morbidity rate

Most spinal cord injury victims have to deal with years of special therapies, rehabilitation and medications. Many are never able to live independently again. Others can regain some strength, mobility and independence with medical assistance, depending on the severity of the injury. Either way, overcoming and coping with all of the physical and mental changes that accompany a spinal cord injury can take a lifetime.

How Long Does it Take for a Spinal Injury to Heal?

When a spinal cord injury first occurs, the area around the spinal cord typically swells. This swelling can impact the rest of the body, but generally only lasts a few days or weeks. As the swelling subsides, some patients will regain mobility and experience relief from other symptoms. However, a complete or permanent spinal cord injury can mean that a victim never fully regains mobility or heals from other damage caused by the injury.

Most victims who suffer spinal cord injuries have to stay in the hospital for the first several days or weeks. During this time, the spinal cord will be stabilized as much as possible and emergency surgeries may be used to try to minimize the damage. The patient’s injury will be diagnosed and he or she will begin any recommended treatments. The first six months of treatment are the most important, as this is the time of maximum recovery for a spinal cord injury victim.

A patient will continue undergoing treatments, typically involving steroids, medications and rehabilitative therapies, for as long as is necessary. This may be months or years. After one year, any residual effects from the spinal cord injury are typically viewed as permanent. Some amount of recovery may still be possible depending on the patient, the severity of the injury and the location of the damage. Unfortunately, it is often not possible to make a complete recovery from a spinal cord injury.

What Are the Lifelong Costs of a Spinal Injury?

Spinal cord injuries are one of the most expensive injuries involved in personal injury law. Victims with spine injuries often require ongoing medical care for many years or the rest of their lives. The costs of this care can add up quickly, especially for someone who is younger at the time of injury. 

According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, the estimated lifetime costs directly attributable to spine injuries range from about $1.2 million for someone who suffers motor function disability of any level at age 50 to $5.2 million for someone with high tetraplegia at age 25. Note that these are only the estimates for health care and living expenses. They do not include lost wages, productivity or fringe benefits.

The list of lifelong costs associated with a spinal cord injury includes:

  • Emergency medical intervention
  • Surgeries
  • Ongoing medical care
  • Visits to a specialist
  • Rehabilitative therapies
  • Medical devices
  • Medications
  • Disability accommodations
  • Live-in assistance
  • Transportation and travel costs
  • Lost income
  • Diminished capacity to earn
  • Loss of services

The price of a spinal cord injury can add up quickly for many reasons. The injury itself may require many expensive ongoing treatments. Health complications are also common, such as infections, blood clots and respiratory issues. These can require additional medical care. If a victim has been paralyzed due to a spine injury, he or she may need many different assistive devices, such as special beds, showers and vehicles. Those with the most severe spine injuries may require around-the-clock care.

How Do Spinal Cord Injuries Occur?

The most common causes of spinal cord injury are motor vehicle accidents, falls, acts of violence, sports and recreation injuries and disease processes such as cancer, infection, inflammation, etc. Whether you need a motor vehicle accident lawyer or motorcycle accident attorney in Philadelphia, we’re ready to help.

Because the spinal cord exists in a fairly closed environment, it is susceptible to mechanical compression injuries from such causes as herniated disks, cord swelling, blood collection (hematoma) or fluid collection (abscess). Lack of blood flow to the spinal cord (cord ischemia) is another potential cause of spinal cord injury.

A partial list of spinal cord injury symptoms includes:

  • Radiating back pain
  • Sensory changes like numbness, tingling or loss of sensation/function in the extremities or genital area
  • Clumsiness or lack of coordination or fine motor control
  • Varying degrees of paralysis
  • Problems with or changes in bowel and bladder function
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty breathing

It is important for your future to speak to an attorney about your spinal cord injury as soon as possible after an accident. Most insurance companies search for ways to limit their liability, especially for high-value claims like those involving permanent disabilities. They do this by assigning claims adjusters to the case, who may then attempt to take advantage of the claimant. 

A claims adjuster may try to get you to give a recorded statement or accept a fast settlement early on in your case – before you fully understand your injury and how much it will cost. It is important not to fall for insurance company tactics and not to sign anything given to you by the insurer. Instead, take your case to an attorney in Philadelphia immediately to ensure that you are fairly compensated for your spinal cord injury with high-quality legal representation.

Time is Essential When Dealing With a Spinal Injury

Early detection and treatment – often surgery – can mean the difference between the full return of normal function and loss of function.

Definitive diagnosis of spinal cord injuries requires radiology studies such as CT or MRI. In the case of traumatic injury, prompt diagnosis and treatment are likewise critical to ensuring the best possible outcome.

Spinal cord injuries can affect not only the use of the patient’s extremities but also the patient’s ability to control bowel and bladder. Spinal cord injuries are devastating not only for the patient but also for family members. The costs of treating such injuries and their consequences can be overwhelming. The Philadelphia catastrophic injury attorneys at Youman & Caputo are here to help you fight for compensation and justice.

Litigating a Spinal Cord Injury Case

Other types of cases include affirmative injury to the spinal cord due to accidents, falls, surgical mishap, product defects or other causes.

Litigating these cases requires developing a life care plan to determine how much money is needed to pay for the medical care and other expenses (like home modifications) required for the remainder of the injured party’s life.

How a Philadelphia Spinal Cord Injury Attorney Can Help

Hiring a spinal cord injury attorney from the very beginning of your case can help you protect your legal rights as a victim of negligence. The at-fault party’s insurance company will take many measures to try to limit its liability and reduce your payout. A lawyer can help you defend yourself during the insurance process – or a personal injury lawsuit – to maximize your financial recovery. 

A spinal cord injury attorney in Philadelphia can help you with many critical tasks associated with your claim, such as investigating the accident, gathering evidence and records, hiring qualified experts to build your case, handling insurance companies, understanding and navigating Pennsylvania’s related laws, and representing you at trial for optimal results. A lawyer will make the legal process easier; you can rest and focus on healing while your attorney takes care of your claim for you.

What Damages Can You Recover After a Spinal Cord Injury?

The damages, or financial compensation, that you can recover for a spinal cord injury can be immense. You may qualify to recover the costs of all of your associated medical treatments and ongoing care far into the future, as well as pay for the other losses that you suffered because of the injury. Compensable losses may include:

  • Health care costs (past and future)
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Mental and psychological counseling
  • Prescription and over-the-counter medications
  • Wheelchairs and other medical equipment
  • Personal care costs
  • Lost income and employment benefits
  • Lost capacity to earn a living in the future
  • Diminished enjoyment or quality of life
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress and mental anguish
  • Loss of consortium
  • Wrongful death damages, in some cases
  • Punitive damages

At Youman & Caputo, our attorneys can create a comprehensive list of your losses to submit in your insurance demand letter. Then, we will aggressively negotiate with the insurance company to ensure that you are fully and fairly compensated for all of the economic and noneconomic damages associated with your spinal cord injury.

Philadelphia Spinal Cord Injury Attorney

How Much Is a Philadelphia Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit Worth?

Just as the losses connected to a spine injury are substantial, so are the values of most of these claims. A spinal cord injury claim settlement could easily enter the millions for a catastrophic or permanent injury. For example, Youman & Caputo achieved an $8 million settlement for one client and $7 million for another – both for spinal cord injury cases. 

Every case is unique. Case values are based on many factors, including the severity of the plaintiff’s injury, how much it impacts his or her life, and the costs associated with the injury. Working with an attorney is the most effective way to optimize your case’s financial outcome. Our lawyers have the power to take cases to court in Philadelphia, if necessary, to achieve optimal results.

What Should I Do if I Sustain a Spinal Cord Injury?

If you feel pain, numbness or tingling in your back or limbs after an accident, stay where you are and remain as still as possible. If you must be moved away from the accident site for safety purposes, do so with assistance from others in a way that minimizes any jostling of your neck or spine. 

The best thing to do is to remain still and wait for paramedics to arrive. Medical professionals will immediately take steps to immobilize your spine and reduce the risk of further injury, such as putting you in a brace. Then, you will receive further medical attention at a hospital in Philadelphia to minimize the effects of the injury.

When you’re able, gather information about the accident, such as copies of police or accident reports. Next, retain legal counsel to assist you with the claims process. Once you hire an attorney, you can focus on your physical and emotional recoveries while your attorney handles the financial recovery.

Contact a Philadelphia Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer

At Youman & Caputo, we have extensive experience litigating and securing large verdicts and settlements in spinal cord injury cases of all types, including medical malpractice, product liability, accidents, surgical injuries, and other cases. If you or a loved one have suffered a spinal cord injury caused by the negligence of another, then call now for a free consultation.