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Spinal cord injuries affect every aspect of the injured person’s life. It is simply not possible to deal with the hundreds of unknowns and challenges that serious injuries bring without qualified and experienced assistance. Bakersfield spinal cord injury lawyer Daniel Rodriguez and his legal team at Rodriguez & Associates have handled spine, neck, back, and brain injuries since 1980.
Since the inception of our firm, we have worked to meet the emotional and legal needs of our injured clients. We have handled hundreds of catastrophic injury cases, including spine injuries and draw on decades of experience while partnering with physical medicine specialists, rehabilitation doctors and other experts to:
- Ensure our clients receive the care they need
- Ensure that clients’ full loss is accounted for when valuing a case and pursuing compensation for our clients
The challenges of back injuries, paraplegia, and quadriplegia are not new to us. We are experienced in identifying the needs of injured clients and in communicating clients’ current and future needs to insurers and insurers’ attorneys.
What Causes Spinal Cord Injuries?
The first step in preventing spinal cord injuries (SCIs) is to recognize what typically causes them. While the spine can sustain damage in almost limitless scenarios, there are a handful of circumstances more likely to lead to serious spine injuries than others. The most common causes of SCIs are negligence-related, such as car crashes and falls in the workplace. When negligence leads to spine injury, contact our attorneys for claim advice. These are the circumstances that result in personal injury claims in California. Some of the most common causes of SCIs include:
- Auto accidents. Car accidents cause around 38% of all new spinal cord injuries in the U.S. each year. Traumatic SCIs can result from crashes due to forces the collision exerts on the vehicle and body. If a victim strikes the steering column or windshield, ejects out of the vehicle, suffers crush injuries, or even hits the seatbelt with enough force, it can permanently damage the spinal cord.
- Falls cause 30% of traumatic spinal cord injuries. The spine often cannot withstand the forces of a fall from a great height, such as from a scaffold, roof, or ladder. The spine can fracture, damaging fragile structures within the spinal cord. This can interrupt the messaging system between the brain and body, resulting in loss of function and/or sensation.
- Acts of violence. Penetration injuries to the spine, such as gunshot or knife wounds, cause about 13.5% of SCIs each year. File a civil claim against the perpetrator of your spinal cord injury. A criminal case can result in a conviction, but only a civil case will end in compensation for personal losses.
- Sports impacts. Players in impact sports such as football or rugby can suffer spinal cord injuries, as can divers, skiers, snowboarders, and other types of athletes. If a sports coach could have prevented an athlete’s sports-related spinal cord injury, the injured party might be able to bring a claim against the coach or facility.
- Medical or surgical complications. At least 5% of spinal cord injuries stem from medical procedure complications, like nerve damage during surgeries. While not all spine injuries from medical complications are acts of negligence, many are. Hire a lawyer to investigate your case and find out if medical malpractice might be at play.
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, at least 17,000 new spinal cord injury cases arise in the U.S. each year. In 2016, an estimated 282,000 people were living with SCIs. Men are more likely to suffer spinal cord injuries than women, accounting for 80% of all new SCI cases. To learn more about your individual SCI case and potential personal injury claim, contact a Bakersfield personal injury lawyer at Rodriguez & Associates.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
The type of spinal cord injury someone sustains depends on the region of the spine the injury impacts. In general, the higher on the spine the injury occurs, the more severe the effects. The body will typically lose motor function and sensation below the point of injury. Injuries that occur higher up on the spine will affect a larger percentage of the body. There are two main categories of SCIs within which varying conditions exist: incomplete and complete. In an incomplete injury, the survivor retains some function. A complete injury means the spine is completely severed, and the survivor loses all function/sensation below the point of injury.
There are three main types of incomplete SCIs:
- Anterior cord syndrome – Damage in the front of the spinal cord. Those with this condition might retain partial sensation but have trouble with motor function.
- Central cord syndrome – Damage of the central vertebrae. This can cause arm paralysis, leg impairment and/or lapses in fine motor skills.
- Brown-Sequard syndrome – Damage on one side of the spinal cord. This can often result in impairment on one side of the body more than the other.
In complete injuries, the spinal cord completely severs. Total paralysis from the point of injury down the remainder of the body characterizes this class of SCI.
The majority of spinal cord injuries (45%) are “incomplete tetraplegia” injuries, meaning that some function and sensation might remain in the four limbs and/or torso. Tetraplegia is the most severe type of SCI and refers to paralysis in all four limbs, the torso, and possibly the chest and respiratory system as well. Tetraplegia results from damage to the cervical spinal cord, or the topmost part of the spine. Paraplegia refers to the loss of movement and sensation in the lower half of the body – the lower abdomen, pelvis, bladder, bowel, and legs. Triplegia refers to paralysis in one arm and both legs and can happen because of an incomplete SCI.
Spinal Cord Injury Symptoms
Some may notice symptoms of spinal cord injury right away, while other signs might show up later. Depending on the type, severity, and other factors of the spine injury, a victim can experience a variety of symptoms. Early signs of an SCI can include the inability to move the lower limbs or all limbs, as well as the inability to feel hot, cold, pressure, or pain. Loss of bowel and bladder function can also indicate a spinal cord injury. Other potential symptoms can include:
- Numbness or tingling
- Burning sensations
- Altered sensations
- Pain or swelling
- Inability to walk
- Muscle spasms
- Exaggerated reflexes
- Changes in sexual function
- Difficulty breathing
All spinal cord injuries require prompt medical attention. If you notice emergency symptoms such as impaired breathing, extreme pain in your neck or back, or weakness or paralysis in any part of your body, call 911 and request an ambulance. Do not move after an accident unless necessary for your safety. Jarring the spine the wrong way after a minor injury could turn it into a major one. Immediate medical care can make a big difference in the prognosis and recovery of someone with an SCI.
Spinal Cord Injury Compensation
Spinal cord injuries are often what the California courts call “catastrophic,” meaning they cause long-lasting or permanent damage to the victim. Catastrophic injuries that result in great and often lifelong costs are generally eligible for greater amounts of compensation than minor injuries. If you think the negligence of a third-party caused your injury, you may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit. For example, when a fall from a faulty ladder, caused by negligence on the ladder manufacturer’s part, results in an injury. Retaining a skilled Bakersfield spinal cord injury lawyer can help you get the most for your SCI claim. An attorney can help negotiate with insurance companies and bring a case to trial if necessary. Our team of aggressive litigators may help you recover for losses such as:
- Past and future medical costs
- Lifelong medical expenses, including rehabilitative therapies
- The cost of home or vehicle modifications
- Medical equipment or devices, such as wheelchairs
- Costs of live-in care or assistance
- Lost wages and lost capacity to earn
- Physical pain and emotional suffering
- Psychological harms and mental anguish
- Loss of consortium, or the losses your loved ones suffer because of your SCI
- Punitive damages
Because spinal cord injuries are so serious in the physical damages they cause, any form of compensation is helpful in covering the costs of treatment. The quality of your legal representation during an SCI personal injury case is critical to the success of your claim. An experienced, knowledgeable, and successful Bakersfield spinal cord injury attorney will know how the law works and how to fight for maximum compensation for catastrophic injuries. The legal team at Rodriguez & Associates has decades of experience handling spinal cord injury claims in California and will fight to get the best results possible out of your civil claim.
Free Consultation With a Bakersfield Spinal Cord Injury Attorney
Rodriguez & Associates is conveniently located in downtown Bakersfield, California. We are available for weekend and evening appointments, charge no fee for consultations and speak both English and Spanish. To contact us, please call (661) 323-1400 to schedule a free consultation with a spinal cord injury lawyer in Bakersfield, CA.