A spinal cord injury changes a person’s life in an instant, creating new challenges for everyday life—challenges that a victim may have to face for the rest of his life.
Spinal cord injuries occur when the victim least expects it. Despite the catastrophic nature of these injuries, they’re sadly more common than people realize.
Motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, and slip and falls are all common causes of spinal cord injuries. Regardless of the cause of the injury, the effects are devastating and have the potential to deeply affect the victim and the victim’s loved ones and family.
At Rafi Law Firm, our spinal cord injury lawyers are ready to stand by injury victims and fight for their right to compensation. Our commitment to justice makes us determined to hold negligible parties accountable for their role in our clients’ injuries.
If you or a loved one has suffered from a spinal cord injury, contact us today at 404-948-3311.
What is a spinal cord injury?
Symptoms of spinal cord injury include paralysis, reduced coordination, numbness, tingling, loss of bowel or bladder control, and pain. Any trauma that cuts, compresses, pushes, or pulls your spinal cord may injure the cord.
Spinal cord injuries can also be caused by non-trauma, such as blood clots, abscesses, or tumors that put pressure on the spinal cord.
After a traumatic spinal cord injury, the spine should be stabilized as quickly as possible. Doctors often prescribe corticosteroid medications to limit damage. If spinal cord injury is suspected, a CT scan, MRI, or myelogram may be used to diagnose a possible injury. Surgery may be needed to stabilize the spine or fuse the spine with metal plates or pins.
How an Atlanta Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Will Help You
In the aftermath of a spinal cord injury, you may feel overwhelmed, frustrated, exhausted, and unsure of how to move on with your life. Rather than face things alone, rely on a trusted Atlanta personal injury lawyer who can handle the various details of a personal injury lawsuit.
A spinal cord injury lawyer can conduct a full investigation into the cause of the accident that led to your injury and will gather evidence, including witness testimony, medical evaluations, and proof of negligence to build your case.
Additionally, an experienced lawyer will be your best resource in accurately assessing the damages that you now face. The consequences of a spinal cord injury affect not only your physical and mental health but your finances as well. The last thing a victim of a spinal cord injury should have to do is worry about how they’ll be able to afford recovery expenses. Your lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you need to move on with your life.
Remember that you don’t have to fight this battle alone. With an aggressive and experienced lawyer on your side, you’ll show the liable party that you mean business about recovering your rightful damages.
If you have questions about your spinal cord injury or are ready to file a lawsuit, contact the Rafi Law Firm today at 404-948-3311.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Our firm handles spinal cord injuries that were caused by a wide variety of accidents in the Atlanta area, such as:
- Car accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Falls from heights
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Sports and recreational activity accidents
- Assault and violence
- Defective products
Whether the cause of your accident was intentional or accidental, it’s critical that you speak with a lawyer who can assess the value of your spinal cord injury case. The attorneys at Rafi Law Firm have a long history of holding negligent parties accountable for the damage they’ve caused.
Types of Spinal Cord Injury
Traumatic spinal cord injuries are classified into five types—letters A through D—by the American Spinal Injury Association and the International Spinal Cord Injury Classification System:
- Complete lack of motor and sensory function below the level of injury (including the anal area)
- Some sensation below the level of the injury (including anal sensation)
- Some muscle movement is spared below the level of injury, but 50% of the muscles below the level of injury cannot move against gravity
- More than 50% Most (more than 50 percent) of the muscles that are spared below the level of injury are strong enough to move against gravity
- All neurologic function has returned
Spinal cord injuries can be caused by truck and car accidents, violent criminal acts, falls, and workplace injuries. Long-term treatment involves an intense program of rehabilitation therapy. Continuing treatment might include nutritional management, occupational therapy, psychological counseling, and careful monitoring by physicians.
As a result, monetary costs associated with spinal cord injuries are very high—plus physical and emotional damages. If you have suffered a spinal cord injury and believe it may have been caused by an intentional or negligent act, contact Mike Rafi to discuss your case.
Complete vs Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injuries are categorized into two types of injury: complete spinal cord injury and incomplete spinal cord injury.
Complete Spinal Cord Injury
A complete spinal cord injury causes permanent damage to the affected area of the spinal cord. Oftentimes, victims of complete spinal cord injuries will suffer from paraplegia or tetraplegia.
Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury
An incomplete spinal cord injury refers to partial damage sustained by the spinal cord. There is some ability to move and a certain level of feeling. The extent of these depends on the area of the spine injured and the severity of the injury.
Spinal Cord Injury Levels
The spinal cord has four sections. Each of these four sections protects different bundles of nerves that control different regions of the body. :
- Cervical: Cervical spinal cord injuries affect the region above the shoulders, including the head and neck. This is the most severe level of spinal cord injury.
- Thoracic: Thoracic spinal cord injuries affect the upper chest, mid-back, and abdominal muscles. Victims of thoracic spinal cord injuries typically have normal arm and hand function.
- Lumbar: Lumbar spinal cord injuries affect the victim’s hips and legs and may result in the individual needing a wheelchair or braces.
- Sacral: Sacral spinal cord injuries affect the hips, the backs of the thighs, buttocks, and pelvic organs, including the vagina, cervix, uterus, rectum, and bladder. While victims of sacral spinal cord injuries can typically still walk, other functions may be affected such as bladder control, fertility, and sensory issues.
Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injury victims can experience a wide range of symptoms, such as:
- Difficulty breathing that results in the requirement of a ventilator
- Consistent physical pain caused by nerve damage
- Loss of mobility
- Loss of feeling or tingling in the legs, feet, toes, arms, hands, and chest
- Loss of bladder control
- Complete loss of function
- Muscle fatigue
- Inhibition of sexual function
- Changes in fertility
- Extreme pain in the neck, back, or head
Even if your symptoms seem mild, seek immediate medical attention for your injury. Spinal cord injuries can worsen over time and waiting to diagnose and treat it can be detrimental to recovery and further complicate any existing injuries.
What Your Attorney Needs to Prove
Your lawyer will need to prove that another party, whether it’s a medical professional, another driver, or a product manufacturer, caused your injury. Often, spinal cord injury cases are filed under claims for negligence on the other party’s part.
To win a negligence case for a spinal cord injury, your lawyer must establish the following elements:
Duty of Care
Your lawyer must be able to prove that the defendant owed you a legal duty of care to not cause you and others harm. In the case of a car accident, anyone operating a motor vehicle has a legal responsibility to drive carefully, obey all traffic laws, and refrain from causing injury to other motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
Breach of Duty
Breach of duty refers to a violation of the duty of care owed to the victim. Your lawyer must prove that the breach of duty caused the spinal cord injury. Following the same example of a car accident, your lawyer would likely gather evidence including eyewitness testimony, traffic footage, dashcam footage, and accident reconstruction to prove breach of duty of care. If the driver that caused your accident was speeding, the speeding breaches the duty of care owed to other drivers.
Causation is the link between the negligent action that took place (speeding that causes a car accident) and the negative consequences of the driver’s speeding (the accident caused the spinal cord injury).
Depending on the case, causation can be difficult to prove as your lawyer must establish that the negligent party’s action directly caused the injury as opposed to pre-existing conditions or another cause.
Once your lawyer has established duty of care, breach of duty, and causation, they will then show that you suffered injuries, losses, and other damages as a result of the negligent actions that led to your spinal cord injury.
What kinds of damages can you claim in a spinal injury lawsuit?
While no two spinal cord injuries are the same, the types of damages they can cause are often similar. Our skilled Atlanta personal injury lawyers have helped victims of spinal cord injuries recover a wide variety of damages, including economic, non-economic, and punitive.
Economic, or specific, damages refer to the compensation a victim may receive as a result of monetary and measurable losses incurred due to the accident. Economic damages for spinal cord injury victims may include:
- Medical expenses such as doctor and hospital bills, prescription medication, surgery expenses, and future medical expenses
- Lost wages or reduce future earning capacity
- Lost employment or business opportunities due to the spinal cord injury
- Therapy costs
- Home modifications
- Expenses for wheelchair and similar devices
Your lawyer can provide a value for your economic damages with the use of medical bills, hospital invoices, pharmacy receipts, and other related bills. In many cases, your lawyer will call on an expert witness who can verify the economic damage amounts you’re entitled to receive.
Non-economic damages, also referred to as general damages, compensate victims for the non-monetary losses that are not as easily quantified as economic damages.
Non-economic damages can include:
- Emotional distress
- Physical or emotional pain and suffering
- Physical impairment
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Without the use of bills and receipts, non-economic damages can be more difficult to evaluate. They’re also highly subjective and can vary drastically from case to case.
Your spinal cord injury lawyer will be able to effectively assess your non-economic damages following your injury.
If the liable party is found to have intentionally caused your injury or engaged in wanton or willful misconduct that led to the accident that caused your injury, a court may choose to apply punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages.
Punitive damages seek to punish the offending party for their actions, while economic and non-economic damages compensate a victim to make up for their losses. While it is less common for courts to award punitive damages, it’s not unheard of.
Spinal cord injury cases that may involve punitive damages include:
- Product liability cases in which a pharmaceutical or medical device company willfully exposed consumers to risks and failed to warn of the risks
- Assault with a deadly weapon
- Felony assault
- Drunk driving
- Driving under the influence of an illegal drug
- Sexual assault
O.C.G.A. 51-12-5.1 caps personal injury punitive damages to $250,000 with the following exceptions:
- Cases of product liability
- If the defendant acted with specific intent to harm the victim
- If the defendant acted or failed to act while under the influence of non-prescription drugs, alcohol, or other substances that are known to impair judgment
Contact an Atlanta Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Today
Spinal cord injuries can be incredibly scary and overwhelming to face. How will you recover and stay on top of a growing mountain of medical bills? Just know that you don’t have to do it alone. Our award-winning Atlanta firm has extensive experience in handling spinal cord injuries that allows us to accurately assess what compensation a victim may be entitled to.
If you have questions regarding the types of compensation you may be eligible for, contact the Rafi Law Firm today at 404-948-3311. We look forward to assisting you with your case.
Atlanta Spinal Cord Injury Questions and Answers
The body’s central nervous system is made up of the brain and the spinal cord. Spinal cord injuries often result in damage to the fiber tracts that transport signals to and from the brain, which can thus affect every part of the body.
When spinal cord damage is severe enough, the spinal nerves below the spinal cord injury may receive signals but will not be able to communicate with the brain. This can lead to permanent loss of sensation, reduced strength, and even paralysis.
The body may experience other effects, including loss of bladder control, intense pain, difficulty breathing, loss of sensation to touch, heat, and cold, and inhibited sexual function.
Spinal cord seizures are infrequently reported, although not unheard of. Anything that interrupts the normal connections between the brain’s nerve cells can cause a seizure. Common causes of seizures include epilepsy, high fevers, high or low blood sugar, drug or alcohol withdrawal, or concussions.
Victims of spinal cord injuries may simultaneously sustain a concussion, which can trigger seizures. If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury, be sure to tell both your doctor and lawyer of any other injuries you sustained in the accident.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for spinal cord injuries. While there are many treatments, including steroid drugs, rehabilitation, and physical therapy, there is not one medical treatment that can fully cure this type of injury. When someone suffers from a spinal cord injury, they may regain some function that they lost in the aftermath of the injury.
While only a very small fraction of spinal cord injury victims recover all of the function lost as a result of the accident, many people do regain some level of function and go on to lead full and satisfying lives.
He was beyond professional and hardworking.
We highly recommend Rafi Law Firm! Mike’s services led to the most equitable outcome.
Mr.Rafi and his team were a pleasure to work with!