Did you or a loved one suffer a catastrophic spinal cord injury that left you paralyzed?
Scholle Law has 20+ years of experience winning compensation for victims of catastrophic personal injury.
It’s estimated that nearly 5.4 million people live with paralysis in the United States, and spinal cord injury (SCI) is one of the leading causes. In 2018 alone, the Central Registry reported 570 spinal cord injuries treated in Georgia hospitals.
Most bones, muscles and body tissue that gets injured will eventually heal. Unfortunately, the spinal cord is an exception—a serious injury to the spinal cord is often permanent. Depending on how severe the injury was and where on the spine it was located, victims may suffer partial or full paralysis for the rest of their lives.
When all 4 limbs are affected, it’s called “quadriplegia.” When just the lower half of the body is affected, it’s known as “paraplegia.” Either way, these catastrophic injuries are permanent disabilities that forever change the life of the victim and their family. Victims often must relearn basic life skills, and learn how to navigate the world with assistive devices. Medical help may be necessary.
If you’re living with paralysis because of someone else’s carelessness, we invite you to contact Scholle Law to discuss your rights and your legal options. For more than 20 years, we have helped victims of some of the most serious personal injuries recover maximum compensation from the people responsible—money they can use to support themselves, get needed medical care and be fully compensated for a life-altering accident. We offer free, no-obligation consultations, so you can tell us your story and learn more about our experience with no risk.
The deadline—or “statute of limitations”— for filing a personal injury claim arising from a spinal cord injury depends on what type of case it is. For instance, most Georgia personal injury cases must be filed within 2 years from the date of the injury; however, this deadline may be reduced if you wish to sue a government entity or your injury wasn’t discovered until later.
Why talk to our Atlanta paralysis injury lawyers?
Charles Scholle is a leading Georgia personal injury attorney who specializes in the most complex spinal cord injury cases. Together with his team of experienced lawyers, paralegals and legal professionals, Charles can skillfully navigate the complexities of spinal cord injury cases.
For example, we were able to negotiate a $625,000 settlement for a DeKalb County woman who was hit by a tractor-trailer truck that backed into her, resulting in serious spinal injuries. We’ve also won other sizable settlements and verdicts for spinal cord injury victims throughout Atlanta and the entire state of Georgia.
Common causes of spinal cord injuries
The spinal cord is protected by the backbone (vertebral column), which is made of many small bones called vertebrae. According to the National Institutes of Health, if someone suffers a sharp blow to the back, the vertebrae can break or dislocate which tears or bruises the spinal cord. This kind of injury destroys nerve cells inside the spinal cord, whose job it is to carry electrical impulses from the brain to the body and back again. When those links are broken by damage, the brain can no longer control the parts of the body that the nerves would otherwise communicate with.
How this affects the patient depends a lot on where the injury is. Injuries lower on the spinal cord tend to affect fewer functions because fewer nerves are cut off from the brain. By contrast, injuries to the neck and upper back area can leave the patient partially or fully paralyzed in all 4 limbs and the trunk because all of those parts of the body are below the injury.
Quick and thorough treatment can minimize the damage and even restore some abilities, but a severe injury is likely to result in at least some permanent disability.
Types of paralyzing injuries
Patients can experience various symptoms depending on the trauma’s severity and location. With a “complete” spinal cord injury, the nerves do not function at any point below the injury. With a “partial” or “incomplete” spinal cord injury, on the other hand, there is some nerve function below the injury.
The 3 types of complete SCI include:
Fortunately, thanks to modern medical intervention and advancements in treatments, a vast majority of spinal cord injuries are incomplete (meaning the injured person retains some function). Three common examples of incomplete SCI are:
- Anterior Cord Syndrome
- Central Cord Syndrome
- Brown-Sequard Syndrome
Anatomy of the spine
Understanding basic vertebrae anatomy is important in understanding how the spinal cord can be injured.
We have 3 primary regions in the vertebrae:
- Cervical region (composed of 7 vertebrae bones)
- Thoracic region (composed of 12 vertebrae bones)
- Lumbar region (composed of 5 vertebrae bones)
The spinal nerves wind through the spinal canal. The cervical vertebrae are located in the neck, the thoracic region is located in the upper back and the lumbar region is located in the lower back. Vertebrae are numbered in sequential order so that C1 is the top cervical vertebrae and C7 is the bottom, just above the thoracic vertebrae that begin with T1 and so on.
Spinal cord injury symptoms and treatment
A complete spinal cord injury in the C1 region is usually considered a catastrophic spinal injury and could affect a victim’s breathing and result in quadriplegia (the paralysis of all limbs). A complete injury in the thoracic or lumbar vertebrae might result in paraplegia, or paralysis of the legs.
Other symptoms of spinal cord injuries could include:
- Stiffness or spasticity of the affected arms or legs
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Sexual dysfunction
Spinal cord injuries are usually treated in 3 distinct phases:
- Stabilization of the injury and minimization of further injury to the spinal cord.
- Rehabilitation of the injury so the patient can function at maximum mobility.
- Coping with the injury and life changes resulting from permanent impairments.
While treatment is possible, it can be intensely expensive. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, average first-year expenses for an SCI with paraplegia is $537,271 (2017) and up to $1,102,403 for quadriplegia. Each subsequent year, the average yearly expenses are $71,172 for paraplegia and up to $191,436 for quadriplegia.
Life after a spinal cord injury
Because quadriplegia, paraplegia and other forms of paralysis are usually permanent, they often change a patient’s life forever. In severe cases, patients may need medical interventions to breathe. Less severe cases will still require the patient to go through extensive physical therapy to learn how to live with the paralysis. That means using assistive devices, relearning how to perform basic tasks, and in some cases securing the help of a health aide. The patient’s home may need to be rearranged to accommodate a wheelchair or other medical device.
All of this medical intervention is quite expensive, even if the patient has health insurance. This kind of enormous and unexpected expense can be a huge burden on a family, especially if they’re also dealing with a loss of income because the patient can no longer work at their former job.
And on top of all of that, patients may grieve for the loss of their former lives, hobbies and abilities, while family members may suffer from the loss of their loved one’s care, companionship and help with practical tasks.
What to do after a catastrophic accident
Spinal cord injuries are extremely serious, requiring immediate medical attention. If you are injured in an accident, even if you don’t feel seriously hurt, seek medical attention immediately. If the injury is a complete spinal cord injury, you will likely have no choice as you won’t be able to move. Even with a partial spine injury, it is vital to wait for an ambulance. Adrenaline may cause you to feel stronger and less injured than you really are. You can make the injury worse if you don’t stop moving immediately.
First responders have the expertise to stabilize victims to avoid or limit movement. In our experience as spinal cord injury attorneys in Atlanta, the need to avoid movement is key to keeping the injury from worsening before receiving medical help.
After you’ve received immediate medical attention, we invite you to get in touch with our experienced Georgia spinal cord injury lawyers. We can make sure that you seek the medical support of the most experienced physicians in this field. With new research and treatment methods, you can benefit from the guidance of those who have updated knowledge in these injuries.
In addition, we’ll carefully investigate your case to hold the at-fault party financially responsible for your medical bills, pain and suffering and other damages. Spinal cord lawsuits are especially complex, which is why you should seek out professional legal advice as soon as possible.
Georgia spinal cord injury victims can get a free consultation at Scholle Law
For more than 2 decades, Scholle Law has helped victims of serious personal injury in Georgia recover fair compensation from the people responsible. We understand how to prove a claim based on a complex, permanent injury like paralysis, and we have a strong record of results for clients in similar situations. If you’d like to talk to us about your own situation and your legal rights, contact us for your free, no-obligation consultation.
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