Damage to the spinal cord suffered in a car accident, slip and fall, occupational injury or another traumatic event can cause a catastrophic injury. It may lead to a loss of sensation and function. Spinal cord injury survivors can still lead productive lives, but will need to adapt to a new lifestyle. If the spinal cord injury accident was caused by someone else’s negligence, the accident victim may be entitled to seek compensation from the responsible party.
It is essential to speak to an experienced Houston personal injury attorney after suffering a spinal cord injury accident caused by others’ disregard for safety. The medical bills, living expenses and income loss can easily add up to millions of dollars. But a properly handled legal settlement after a catastrophic injury can provide financial stability.
At Herrman & Herrman, PLLC, our Houston spinal cord injury lawyers are committed to helping injured people whose lives have been turned upside down by others’ reckless acts. We have a dedicated accident investigation team and the resources required to tackle complex catastrophic injury cases. Our experienced attorneys at Herrman & Herrman have successfully resolved more than 20,000 accident cases in Texas.
We can schedule a free review of your case today. We have English- and Spanish-speaking attorneys and staff available to speak with you and answer your questions. Call us at (713) 565-1899 or chat live to meet with a compassionate attorney who can help you.
Why You Need a Houston Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer
The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) says there are between 240,000 and 337,000 people living with a spinal cord injury in the United States. The life expectancy of a spinal cord injury victim depends on their age at the time of the injury, how long ago they were injured, and the severity of the injury. For example, an individual who suffers an injury that causes paraplegia (paralysis below the waist) at age 60 has a life expectancy of about 16 years. A 25-year-old paraplegic’s life expectancy is about 45 years.
The NSCISC says the estimated lifetime costs of a spinal cord injury range from $1.2 million for a 50-year-old with the lowest level of motor function loss (AIS D) [Asia Impairment Scale] to $5.1 million for a 25-year-old with high tetraplegia (paralysis from the neck down, AIS ABC). The average lifetime cost among four levels of paralysis is $3.25 million for a 25-year-old and $1.98 million for a 50-year-old.
The estimates do not include indirect costs, such as losses in wages, fringe benefits and productivity, which averaged $77,701 per year among spinal cord injury patients in 2019 dollars.
If another person, business or organization causes an individual to be injured through negligence or intent, the injured person has a legal right to seek compensation for their losses from the at-fault party. Such a claim requires demonstrating fault, the extent of the injuries and the compensable losses suffered.
As your personal injury attorneys, Herrman & Herrman would fully investigate the accident that left you injured to identify the at-fault party. We document all of the medical treatment expenses you have incurred and are expected to have in the future. We would compile evidence to show how your injuries limit your earning capacity or prevent you from working altogether.
In cases of disability, we work with life care planning consultants to project future costs required for medical care and assistance ranging from adaptive equipment (e.g., wheelchair, hospital bed) to home renovations (ramp, widened doorways) and round-the-clock personal assistance.
In a spinal cord injury case, we may seek compensation for:
- Medical expenses. This would include the costs of emergency care, surgery, hospitalization, physical therapy and other rehabilitation, as well as lifelong costs associated with a spinal cord injury.
- Lost income. A spinal cord injury may leave you unable to return to work or may force you to work at a reduced earning capacity. Lost income calculations include lost benefits and loss of projected earnings from expected raises and deferred compensation, promotions and retirement savings growth.
- Pain and suffering. Texas personal injury law allows you to seek compensation for your physical pain from a spinal cord injury.
- Mental anguish. The law also provides that a spinal cord injury victim may be compensated for emotional distress, anxiety and depression caused by their loss of physical abilities, chronic pain and limits in their lifestyle. We would seek to recover the cost of professional counseling you might seek to learn to cope with your losses.
- Loss of consortium. Paralysis due to a spinal cord injury may cause loss of sexual function. In such a case, you may seek compensation for loss of intimate relations with your spouse and the reduction in your enjoyment of life.
- Punitive damages. In certain accident cases, we can ask a jury to award punitive damages to punish the defendant for outrageous behavior that led to our client’s injury.
A lawsuit for compensation after a spinal cord injury is meant to recover money that will ensure your financial stability in the years ahead and to compensate you to some extent for the pain and suffering you have been unjustly forced to bear.
Regardless of the extent of your injuries and the validity of your case against the defendant, insurers will work to downplay your injuries and minimize the amount of your past and future costs and losses. They may attempt to deny your claim.
As your attorneys, we pledge to match the aggressive approach of insurance companies with our attention to detail and relentless pursuit of justice on your behalf. We conduct thorough investigations, prepare cases and negotiate aggressively. We are committed to helping our clients regain control of their lives and move forward on the road to recovery by obtaining a fair settlement or a jury award for their losses.
Understanding Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord transmits signals from your brain to your body’s central nervous system and controls bodily functions. The spinal cord is protected by your backbone, a stack of vertebrae rising from the pelvis to the skull. If a blow to the back tears, severs or puts pressure on the spinal cord, you can suffer loss of sensation or mobility.
Such a loss is described as “partial” or “complete,” and affects the body from the point of injury on the spinal cord and below. A person with an incomplete spinal cord injury may retain some sensation and mobility below the level of the injury. But it may exist on only one side of the body. It is possible to fully recover from an incomplete spinal cord injury. After a complete injury, the individual is paralyzed. While modern medicine can treat symptoms, the injury cannot be repaired and is permanent.
The diagnosis of a spinal cord injury will use an abbreviation for a region of the spine (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral) and a number for the vertebra affected. For example, a C4 injury indicates an injury at the 4th vertebrae of the cervical spine.
Paralysis is generally described as:
- Paraplegia, affecting all or part of the legs and/or pelvic organs and caused by an injury to the thoracic (upper trunk), lumbar (lower back) or sacral (pelvic) region of the spinal cord.
- Tetraplegia (“quadriplegia”), affecting the shoulders, trunk, arms, hands, legs and pelvic organs and caused by a cervical (neck) spinal cord injury.
After recovering from surgery, a spinal cord injury patient who is capable will typically start rehabilitation to increase muscle strength, restore as much mobility as possible and identify and adapt to limitations. The patient may work on functional skills in occupational or vocational therapy to achieve the highest level of independence possible.
Paraplegics often regain independence and mobility through rehabilitation and with assistive devices such as wheelchairs and modified motor vehicles. Patients with tetraplegia will need assistive devices for mobility and possibly to communicate or breathe. They may require assistance with daily life activities and routine self-care, such as eating, dressing, bathing and getting in or out of bed. Patients with the most severe paralysis (C1 to C4 injuries) need care around the clock and often live in nursing homes.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
The most common causes of spinal cord injuries are:
- Motor vehicle accidents. Car crashes and truck collisions account for about 40% of spinal cord injuries, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center.
- Slip and fall accidents. About a third of spinal cord injuries happen in falls. Falls are a leading cause of workplace injury, and people who are over 65 are more susceptible to falling and being injured.
- Violent assault. Gunshot wounds, knife attacks and other acts of violence lead to about 14% of spinal cord injuries.
- Sports and recreation. Contact sports like football, soccer, rugby, diving accidents, and other sports injuries cause fewer than 10% of spinal cord injuries.
- Surgical error. About 4% of spinal cord injuries are due to medical error.
Contact a Skilled Houston Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one of yours has suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident that was someone else’s fault, contact Herrman & Herrman in Houston to discuss your legal options in a free, no obligation meeting with an attorney. We will do everything we can to recover compensation to help you meet your needs in the days ahead.
Texas imposes a strict statute of limitations on personal injury claims, and spinal cord injury cases can be complex and time consuming. Contact us as soon as you can at (713) 565-1899 or online.