Becoming A Paraplegic After An Accident
Paralysis is one of the most debilitating injuries someone can suffer. Medical intervention can only go so far, and numerous people across the county have to find a way to live with their new condition. When someone suffers a severe spinal cord injury at or below the center of the back, it can result in a severe type of paralysis known as paraplegia. Paraplegia means that you are no longer able to feel or move below your waist, requiring you to use a wheelchair, watch out for injuries like bedsores, and readjust your life around the condition.
If you or a loved one was seriously injured and is now living with paraplegia because of someone else’s negligent actions, then you may be able to pursue a personal injury claim for compensation. But this process can be long and complex, which is why you should trust your case to the Seattle paraplegia lawyers at Pendergast Law. Our legal team has the skills, resources, and knowledge to build a strong case on your behalf and demand proper compensation for your injuries. To speak to us today, call our office toll-free at 888-539-9211 and schedule a free consultation.
Understanding The Consequences Of A Spinal Cord Injury
Paraplegia is a medical condition that occurs when the nerves within the spinal column are damaged, resulting in paralysis in the lower body. With paraplegia, paralysis is common after an injury to the thoracic, lumbar, and sacral sections of the spine. Paraplegia typically forces an individual to use a wheelchair, as he may be unable to use his legs, but there are exceptions.
Spinal cord injuries like paraplegia can be complete, meaning a patient cannot feel or use his lower limbs, or incomplete, meaning a patient could have partial control or feeling in his lower body. With incomplete paraplegia, a person may be able to walk with some assistance, such as crutches or physical therapy, but may still experience nerve pain or only have paralysis in one leg.
The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) reports that 247,000 to 358,000 individuals in the United States live with a spinal cord injury. Among those individuals, roughly 40.6% suffer from paraplegia, with 20.4% suffering from incomplete paraplegia and 20.2% suffering from complete paraplegia. A similar, more severe condition known as quadriplegia, which involves paralysis from the neck down, affects an additional 68.7% of individuals who have spinal cord injuries.
Both complete and incomplete paraplegia can cause a variety of symptoms and medical conditions, which can include:
- A lack of feeling or motor control in one or both legs
- Difficulties controlling your bladder
- Phantom pain or sensations
- Nerve pain
- Sexual dysfunction
- Bedsores, skin diseases, and other secondary conditions
- Weight gain and muscle atrophy
- Secondary mental health issues, including depression
The fact of the matter is that paraplegia is a life-changing condition. While surgeries, physical therapy and new medical treatments have helped many individuals regain some control over their lower body and allowed them to walk, many have to deal with the reality that they may have to rely on assisted living equipment for the rest of their lives. However, depending on the circumstances of your injury, you may be able to recover compensation to cover both the immediate and long-term costs of your injury.
Common Causes Of Paralysis
Given the relationship between paraplegia and spinal cord injuries, these cases are almost always the result of serious trauma. Any strong blow to the back and spine can cause the nerves to stretch or tear, resulting in paralysis. According to the NSCISC, there are an estimated 17,000 new spinal cord injury cases each year, many of which include paraplegia. The top five causes of spinal cord injuries are:
- Vehicle collisions – 38.3%
- Falls – 31.6%
- Violence – 13.8%
- Sports injuries – 8.2%
- Medical/surgical errors – 4.6%
The team at Pendergast Law has helped clients recover compensation for paraplegia caused by:
- High-speed auto accidents
- Vehicle collisions involving pedestrians and cyclists
- Motorcycle crashes
- Truck accidents
- Serious falls
- Swimming pool accidents
- Boating collisions
In order to receive compensation for a spinal cord injury, you will need to prove that another person caused your injuries through an act of negligence. For example, it is common knowledge that driving while intoxicated can result in serious crashes, but many drivers still choose to drink. If a drunk driver caused your injuries in a collision, you would be well within your rights to file a personal injury claim against their insurance policy to recover compensation.
With situations like slips-and-falls at local businesses, boating collisions, and swimming pool accidents, you may have similar options. So long as another person had a duty to care toward you, meaning they were supposed to look out for your general safety, you can hold them accountable after they break that duty. This can include property owners, manufacturers, boat operators, and any individual who harmed you. Even government agencies can be held liable, but this process is more complicated than a standard personal injury claim, so you will want to speak with an experienced attorney first to determine how to file a claim.
The Costs Of Treatment
The challenges and costs associated with living with paralysis last a lifetime, and it is not uncommon for a paraplegic to suffer ongoing medical issues. In fact, roughly 30% of people who suffer from spinal cord injuries have to return to the hospital once or twice a year for additional treatment. This can result in astronomical costs, as the average hospital stay is 22 days long.
In a recent year, the average cost of paraplegia for the initial year of treatment was $537,271 and an additional $71,172 for each year after that, as determined by the NSCISC. The organization also calculated that the lifetime costs of paraplegia can reach up to $2,391,872 for a 25-year-old and $1,569,714 for a 50-year-old.
Treatment for paraplegia can take a variety of forms. First, a victim must be examined by an emergency room doctor who can work to minimize the damage to the spinal column. Following that, he may require hospitalization in an ICU to review his condition, followed by further tests and treatments to improve his mobility and sensation. If the damage proves to be permanent, an accident victim may be prescribed medication, assisted living equipment, physical therapy, psychiatric treatment, and other treatment plans to help him deal with his condition.
Beyond the medical costs of paraplegia, a victim may no longer be capable of practicing his or her profession, and the personal impact is unimaginable. While paraplegics are capable of moving on with their lives, many suffer from depression and have difficulties socializing following an injury. No matter what you have gone through, justice must be served, and the responsible party held fully accountable, whether an individual, organization or another party. That’s when our firm gets involved.
What Can I Include In A Claim?
Given the different types of treatment that accident victims can undergo, the costs associated with paraplegia are often high, but vary on a case-by-case basis. Your age, profession, and how the injury occurred all come into play when filing an injury claim or lawsuit. While we cannot give you an estimate without reviewing your case, there are several costs that we can include in your claim, including:
- Medical expenses, including emergency treatment, corrective surgeries and medication
- Rehabilitation, physical therapy, and future treatment
- Renovations to your home and modifications for your vehicle
- Cost of employment retraining or reeducation
- Lost wages
- Lost earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
Your case is unique; in order to put a value on it, it is vital that we have the opportunity to speak with you about what happened and who was involved and discuss your current physical condition and the other factors. Where one client may have to deal with residual pains related to a spinal cord injury, another may not have that issue. Given how complex these injuries are, the overall value of your case can vary drastically. But you can trust that our team at Pendergast Law will always advocate for the maximum available compensation for your injuries.
Work With Only The Best
Our legal team has garnered a reputation for excellence. With over 40 years practicing personal injury law, we have been recognized for our professionalism, high standards and quality of legal work. Our founder, Mr. Pendergast, is a member of the elite Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Club, open only to legal professionals that have achieved verdicts or settlements in the multimillion-dollar range. When you work with our team, you will receive the best legal guidance in Seattle.
When we represent a client, we thoroughly explain the process for filing a claim or lawsuit and provide consistent updates about your case. If there is a new settlement offer on the table, you will know about it immediately. We will include every cost you have suffered, from your medical expenses to assisted living equipment to how your injury has affected your livelihood.
We are also devoted to serving accident victims throughout the Seattle area, which is why we offer every potential client a free consultation. We are here for the sole purpose of seeking justice and full compensation for our clients. Call a Seattle personal injury lawyer now toll-free at 888-539-9211 for more information about filing a claim or lawsuit.