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Spinal cord injuries have many different causes

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

Becoming injured due to any form of accident can completely devastate a person’s life. This is especially so if the victim suffers from spinal cord injury or damage. While sometimes an accident is simply an accident, there are other times when some type of negligence has damaged the victim’s spinal cord. Anytime this is the case, victims in the Los Angeles area should seriously consider seeking compensation for the injury.

There are many ways negligence can contribute to or cause injury to the spinal cord. Currently, automobile accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries. In auto accidents where another party’s negligence or recklessness caused the crash, the victim can pursue compensation through the legal system.

Falls are another huge factor in spinal cord injuries. If another party’s negligence caused the victim to fall, there could be sufficient grounds to file a legal action. For example, if a victim falls and injures his or her spinal cord because of unsafe premises conditions, a case could certainly be made.

Assaults and violent encounters could also result in injury to the spinal cord. For instance, if the victim is shot or otherwise injured during the robbery of a commercial establishment, he or she may have a good chance at receiving at least some form of compensation.

Seeking compensation is typically the last thing spinal cord injury victims think about, however, it is important to at least consider the option. Many spinal cord injuries result in ongoing health issues requiring extensive medical care and rehabilitation efforts. Working with a California attorney as early as possible provides victims with the best chance of receiving the compensation they may need to acquire the very best care and treatment for their injuries.

Source: MayoClinic.org, “Spinal Cord Injuries – Causes,” accessed Dec. 14, 2015

Spinal cord injuries: Using trial and negotiation techniques

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

Unfortunately, presenting the facts is not always enough to be successful in a California spinal cord injury case. In order to be as effective as possible, a Los Angeles personal injury attorney must have a full arsenal of trial and negotiation techniques. Both experience and knowledge are two of the main foundations upon which an attorney will develop these techniques. However, an attorney must also have a passion for the law to become a successful advocate for his or her clients.

One technique a good attorney possesses is the ability to make complex issues easy to understand. This is accomplished through experience negotiating personal injury cases and representing clients in court. Along with simply presenting the facts of a case, a skilled attorney will investigate deeply and offer the court detailed information about every aspect of the case. Knowledge of the spinal cord and the injuries a spinal cord can suffer is essential in providing a well-researched and knowledgeable case at trial.

When it comes to negotiating a settlement—with an insurance adjuster or another entity—there are several successful techniques an attorney can utilize. One of the most effective involves preparation ahead of time. This often means preparing an agenda that includes discussion topics such as:

— Statements of liability

— Client pain and suffering

— Documentation of the spinal cord injury

— Additional documentation about the injury or the cause of the injury

— A timetable for the potential settlement

As you can see, in cases involving spinal cord injuries, an attorney must be able to wear many hats and still remain effective. The lawyers of Greene, Broillet & Wheeler are comfortable wearing these hats and have the skill to represent clients successfully. Please explore our personal injury website to learn more about the role of an attorney in a spinal cord injury case.

The costs of spinal cord injuries are staggering

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

Spinal cord injuries are very expensive injuries that can easily eat away at a person’s life savings. The average cost of a spinal cord injury depends on the level and severity of the injury. Higher level injuries are usually more costly than lower level injuries.

The average annual care for a person with incomplete motor function at any level of injury is around $347,484 in the first year. Each year after is around $42,206. The lifetime cost would be a little over $1.5 million for a 25-year-old patient or $1.1 million for a 50-year-old patient.

A person who is a paraplegic is likely to spend an average of $518,904 in the first year and $68,739 each year after. That means that the average lifetime cost of a person with paraplegia is a little over $2.3 million for a 25-year-old patient or $1.5 million for a 50-year-old patient.

A person who has a low tetraplegia injury will spend an average of $769,351 in the first year and an average of $113,423 each year after. The average lifetime cost is a little over $3.5 million for a 25-year-old patient or $2.1 million for a 50-year-old patient.

A high tetraplegia injury is likely to cost a little over $1 million in the first year and $184,891 each year after. The average lifetime cost is a bit over $4.7 million for a 25-year-old patient or just under $2.6 million for a 50-year-old patient.

As you can see, the cost of a spinal cord injury is very high and can lead to financial ruin. Patients who were injured in an accident caused by the negligent actions of another person might choose to seek compensation to help cover some of the costs of care.

Source: Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, “The Costs of Living with SCI,” accessed Jan. 27, 2016

Rehabilitation considerations after a spinal cord injury

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

Spinal cord injuries can range from fairly to minor to very serious. When the spinal cord injury causes significant medical complications, rehabilitation is sometimes necessary. When it comes to rehabilitation, it is crucial that the patient and patient’s family members realize that not all rehab programs are the same. Any rehab program that is being considered must be carefully checked to ensure that the needs of the patient are taken into account.

One of the first factors that you need to consider is what aspects of the spinal cord injury does the facility specialize in. Many rehab facilities specialize in a few aspects of having a spinal cord injury. For example, some might specialize in helping people with limb function re-learn to walk to use their arms. These centers might not be geared toward helping someone who is paralyzed.

A second factor to consider is what specialists work at the facility. Rehab nurses who have received specialized training to help people overcome their spinal cord injury are some professionals that might be present. Physiatrists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, vocational therapists, and recreational therapists are some of the other specialists that might work at the center. In some cases, counselors and rehab psychologists will also be present to help with the mental aspects of a spinal cord injury.

A third factor is the accreditation of the facility. One accrediting agencies is the not-for-profit Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. You can contact the agency to determine if the facility you are considering is accredited for spinal cord injury rehabilitation.

All aspects of life after a spinal cord injury require serious thought. One decision that you might need to make is whether you plan on seeking compensation for your injury if your injury was caused by an accident. As is the case with all decisions related to the injury, you should get as much information as you can about seeking compensation in Los Angeles so you can make an informed choice.

Source: Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, “Rehabilitation and Choosing a Rehab Center,” accessed Feb. 17, 2016

Did your settlement or judgment include future medical expenses?

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

It may be hard to believe, but often a spinal cord injury patient’s highest risk doesn’t come from the injury itself. Rather, the patient is jeopardized by secondary conditions related to the SCI. Below are some common secondary conditions that can negatively impact an SCI patient.

— Bladder and bowel dysfunction. Incontinence can decimate an injured person’s quality of life.

— Sepsis. This medical emergency requires urgent treatment, preferably in the first hour it develops.

— Autonomic dysreflexia. Irritations below the SCI can cause this life-threatening condition, as the pain cannot be felt by the patient.

— Deep vein thrombosis. When blood clots form in the lower legs and move to the lungs, a fatal embolism can occur.

— Respiratory difficulties. Contracting pneumonia when you are on a ventilator can be deadly.

— Poor skin integrity. Decubitus ulcers are a real health emergency that require careful management.

SCI patients have to deal with all of these complications and more, as this list was not all-inclusive. Managing secondary complications can delay or prevent the full extent of an SCI patient’s recovery. Those suffering from these secondary issues may require extended hospital stays or be readmitted after an initial discharge from the hospital.

All of these problems can run up a mountain of hospital bills and medical expenses. Rehabilitative care with round-the-clock caregivers might be necessary for weeks, months or even years.

All of these complications and potential future problems must be carefully considered when seeking financial recovery for your injuries following an accident. Failing to include costs of all treatment, medical supplies and supervision can strip dollars from damage awards that prove insufficient over time. Make sure that your Los Angeles attorney includes future medical expenses in your damage claim to avoid this common problem.

Source: Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, “What are the secondary issues related to SCI that might impact my health?,” accessed March 11, 2016

Can you reduce the risk of strains from wheelchair use?

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

Living life in a wheelchair of course has drawbacks, but there are ways to increase your quality of life. Approximately 50 percent of those coping with life in a wheelchair suffer at least occasional pain in the wrists, arms and shoulders. Below are some tips to lessen and avoid the pains caused by propelling manual wheelchairs.

— Keep transfers to a minimum to avoid shoulder strain.

— Use circular motions instead of back and forth to move your chair forward. Keep your hands low and make small circles within the large rims.

— Adjust the chair’s rear axles forward as far as possible. Adding anti-tippers can give you added security.

— Lightweight titanium chairs are much easier to use and can increase your mobility.

— Keep your chair’s tires properly inflated for maximum efficiency.

— Keep your seat’s height as low as is practical, as higher seats cause more strain to propel the chair forward.

— If you are involved in physical therapy, make sure that you practice range of motion exercises for the shoulders to keep the muscles stretched and in shape.

— Some good exercises for shoulders involve elastic bands and lightweight dumbbells; ask your doctor and physical therapist if those would be appropriate for you.

Equipment and medical care for wheelchair patients are ongoing concerns and expenses for those who are injured in accidents. This makes it doubly important for your personal injury attorney to make sure that he or she includes claims for future medical expenses when filing a personal injury lawsuit against the person or entities responsible for your injuries.

Source: Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, “Upper Extremity Care,” accessed April 01, 2016

Spinal cord injuries can affect life expectancy and enjoyment

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

The recovery process after a spinal cord injury can include various teams of medical professionals. Each team works with the patient on a specific portion of their recovery. Exactly which teams are needed to work on a particular case will be dependent upon how the spinal cord injury has affected the patient. As you can imagine, the recovery process is often costly because of the amount of care, intervention and assistive technology that might be necessary.

You have the option to seek compensation if the spinal cord accident that derailed your life was someone else’s fault. We can help you to present a compelling case if you opt to seek compensation to help pay for the bills associated with the spinal cord injury. Those costs can include fees from the rehabilitation and recovery programs that teach you how to live your life after the spinal cord injury.

Another factor that is affected when you have a spinal cord injury is your life expectancy. Generally, suffering from a spinal cord injury reduces your life expectancy. In the case of a 20-year-old without a spinal cord injury, the life expectancy is 59.5 years from there. If that same person is on a ventilator, that life expectancy is reduced to 19.3 years due to the injury.

The damages that you seek after a spinal cord injury depends on the severity of the injury and the repercussions from your injury on your life. You can seek compensation to help you cover medical bills, wages you were unable to earn, and additional damages like pain and suffering.

Spinal cord injury rehabiltation is lengthy and intense

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

Suffering an acute spinal cord injury is a tragedy that impact your future. These injuries can occur because of sports injuries, car accidents, diving accidents, trampoline accidents, fights, violence, birth injuries, falls, and a host of other reasons. No matter what caused the spinal cord injury, you are likely going to be facing a difficult recovery.

In some cases, you will be in the hospital for a lengthy amount of time. You might have an entire team of people caring for you to ensure that you remain medically stable and are moving through the rehabilitation phase of recovery. All of this intensive care might help you to overcome the spinal cord injury; however, you might suffer from an injury so devastating that your body will never be the same.

You are at risk of suffering from paralysis and other complications because of the spinal cord injury. Each problem that you have because of the injury might mean that a new team must be included in your care.

We understand that you probably never thought you would have to go through a host of therapies and medical interventions in order to live a full life. If you have been stricken with an acute spinal cord injury, which is caused by trauma to the spinal cord, you might wish that you had everything you need to live your life in the way you want to live it. That doesn’t always happen, but we can help you to seek compensation for the injury. You could then use any compensation awarded to get the help you need and live the life you deserve.

Spinal cord injuries affect more than loss of mobility

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

Some people don’t understand that when the spinal cord gets injured, it is more than just a patient’s mobility that is at stake. Spinal injuries affect almost every part of the body as well.

Living with a spinal injury means dealing with complications that can cause bowel and bladder problems. Sexual dysfunction is also common, as is spasticity, autonomic dysfunction and chronic pain. Those with injuries to the cervical spine can also suffer from cardiac and respiratory problems.

As a general rule, the higher up the injury is, the more severe the disability will be. Those with injuries between C1 and C4 will require respiratory support, as there may be damage to the phrenic nerves controlling the diaphragm that expands the lungs. These patients are at particular risk of pneumonia because they cannot cough or clear mucous from their throat or lungs. Even the act of swallowing can be challenging to some.

These respiratory complications are a primary cause of death in those with spinal cord injuries. Because intubation raises the risk of acquiring pneumonia, patients who are intubated must be monitored very carefully. Should symptoms of pneumonia present, prompt treatment with antibiotics should be initiated. Clearing the mouth and throat of secretions to prevent aspiration is vital when combating the risk of pneumonia.

Maintaining proper circulation is important to prevent dangerous arrhythmias from developing. When the injury involves the control of cardiac nerves, patients’ hearts can race or become dangerously slow. It’s vital to closely monitor blood pressure changes and watch out for blood pooling in limbs or body parts.

All of this monitoring requires skill and expertise that family caregivers often do not possess. It can be very expensive to care for a spinal cord injury patient at home or in an in-patient setting. Any settlement or judgment should be sufficient to cover these needs.

Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “Spinal Cord Injury: Hope Through Research,” accessed June 10, 2016

Facts and figures regarding spinal chord injuries

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

The United States currently has a population of about 314 million people. Fifty-four out of every million of these people will suffer a spinal cord injuries each year. That amounts to about 17,000 new SCIs annually. This figure represents the people who survive their spinal cord injuries. As of 2016, there were about 282,000 people with SCI in the United States.

Men are much more likely to suffer a spinal cord injury than women. About 80 percent of new cases are men and 20 percent are women. Most of these cases happen as a result of a motor vehicle crash. The second most common source of SCI is falling, such as acts of violence like gunshot wounds. Sports and recreational activities are the last most common cause of such injuries.

In the past, SCI resulted in long-term hospital stays that averaged about 98 days in the 1970s. Now, the length of stay averages about 35 days. However, most spinal cord injury victims will require extensive rehabilitative therapies that extend far beyond the time they spend in the hospital. They may also require occupational therapy to reintroduce themselves into their daily lives and become independent and self-sufficient again.

Despite the shorter stays in hospitals, therapies, medical care and in-home assistance associated with spinal cord injuries are particularly costly — so costly that they are completely unaffordable for virtually any California resident without medical insurance. Combine these costs with the fact that many people with spinal cord damage can no longer work and hold down a job, and it is clear that the costs associated with many SCIs can exceed millions of dollars. It is because of these costs that many individuals — whose SCIs were caused by another party’s negligence — choose to seek financial restitution in court.

Source: National SCI Statistical Center, “Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Facts and Figures at a Glance,” accessed July 26, 2016

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