The spinal cord is essential for voluntary and involuntary movement of your entire body, which is why even minor spinal cord damage can have long-term consequences. If you’ve been in an accident resulting in spinal cord injury, you could face a long road to recovery.
Caputo & Van Der Walde, LLP is a San Jose personal injury law firm that specializes in handling spinal cord injury cases. Spinal cord injuries can be complicated, which is why you need a law firm on your side with experience in this particular area of personal injury law.
Because our spinal cord injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, our clients don’t have to pay out of pocket for our legal services. Instead, we receive our fees at the end of the case when you receive compensation from the negligent party or their insurance company. Call today to review your legal options with a member of our legal team.
Different Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are categorized in several ways, complete, incomplete, stenosis (not enough space for the spinal cord or nerves) and frequently by the area of the spine that has been injured. The higher up the spine a complete spinal cord injury occurs, the greater the paralysis to one’s body. Incomplete spinal cord injuries can result in pain, numbness and weakness in the affected areas. Stenosis usually involves a nerve or nerve root to a specific body part, and causes pain, numbness, and weakness usually in an upper or lower limb. When the stenosis is in in the spinal column, all areas can be affected at the same time (i.e. both the right and left arm can be affected simultaneously)
Cervical Spinal Cord Injuries
Cervical SCIs can be the most severe spinal injuries. They occur in the neck from the C1 to the C8 region, with the upper-most vertebrae being C1 and counting down to the C8 at the bottom of the neck. Injuries at C1 to C4 can result in paralysis of the entire body called quadriplegia. This often involves loss of function in your bladder, bowels, and sex organs. C5 injuries are similar, but some accident victims can move their arms but not their wrists or hands. As you move down the neck to the C6 through C8 part of the cervical spine, spinal cord injury victims generally experience milder versions of the above-described conditions.
Thoracic Spinal Cord Injuries
The thoracic region starts at the bottom of the neck with the T1 vertebra and extends down through most of the back, terminating with the T12 vertebra. With the exception of a T1 injury, most victims with these spinal cord injuries don’t have a loss in function of their arms. The lower the injury, the more the upper body is likely to remain functional. However, in an injury to the thoracic spine, paraplegia — paralysis of the lower legs — is common. Thankfully, injuries to the thoracic spine are rare because they are firmly held in place by the ribs. It takes a very high energy impact to damage the thoracic spine.
Lumbar Spinal Cord Injuries
The L1 is the uppermost vertebra in this region. There are five lumbar vertebrae in total. This type of spinal cord injury mostly affects the hips, lower abdomen, legs, and feet, and can result in paraplegia of the lower limbs.
Sacral Spinal Cord Injuries
The sacral region is the bottom of the spinal cord. While no spinal cord injury should be considered mild, this region, which comprises the L1 through the L5 vertebrae, affects the lower limbs, including the buttocks and below. Spinal cord injuries in this area can result in paraplegia of the lower limbs.
Complete vs. Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries
You might hear the terms “complete spinal cord injury” and “incomplete spinal cord injury” during your hospitalization and subsequent medical care. Complete spinal cord injuries refer to permanent damage to the motor neurons in the spinal cord. This always involves some level of paralysis. Incomplete spinal cord injuries can have varying outcomes depending on the health of the accident victim and the severity of their injuries, but typically involve pain, numbness and weakness. Whether you have a complete or incomplete spinal cord injury, your case is actionable.
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Accidents are a common source of spinal cord and spine injuries. These are some of the personal injury areas where we often see spinal cord injuries:
- Car accidents – Particularly those involving high-speed rear-end impacts, t-bone crashes, vehicle rollovers, and head-on collisions.
- Truck accidents – This refers to commercial truck accidents. Because of their enormous size, truck accidents are much more likely to result in an injured spine than an accident involving a lighter vehicle.
- Motorcycle accidents – Due to the minimum spinal protection available to riders, motorcyclists often end up with severe spine damage.
- Falls – Along with motor vehicle accidents, catastrophic falls are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries. This type of spinal cord injury usually results from the victim falling backward, often from a high place.
While these are the most common causes of spinal cord injury, they are certainly not the only source of these devastating wounds. If you have spinal cord damage, you deserve full compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity, and more. Contact Caputo & Van Der Walde for free legal representation.
Long-Term Effects of Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord is a key component of the central nervous system and is responsible for transmitting signals from the brain to the rest of the body. While modern medicine is frequently inventing new ways to repair the tissues and nerves that send signals to and from the brain, you may face a long period of rehabilitation and physical recovery. Unfortunately, in some cases, accident victims never fully recover.
The following are some of the long-term effects of spinal cord injuries:
- Physical pain
- Loss of mobility
- Full paralysis
- Loss of bodily functions (i.e., digestion, urination, etc.)
- Loss of quality of life
Damages in Spinal Cord Injury Cases
While every case is different, a spinal cord injury case will generally warrant significant compensation from the responsible party. The state of California does not impose damage caps on personal injury claims. Rather damages are based on the following criteria:
These are based on the financial costs of a spinal cord injury. Economic damages include all medical expenses and future costs, physical therapy, psychological treatment, medical equipment, modifications to the home, in-home care, and more.
Not every San Jose spinal cord injury case warrants punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to penalize a defendant for intentional or egregious behavior. For instance, a drunk driver runs a red light and strikes a vehicle resulting in the other driver sustaining a serious injury to their spinal cord. The court may determine that punitive damages are warranted.
How a San Jose Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Can Help
In the aftermath of a spinal cord injury accident, you may be contacted by an insurance adjuster offering to settle your claim on the spot. They will offer money for your medical care and lost wages, possibly even a little more for your inconvenience. However, they will require you to sign a waiver of liability, which means you can’t recover additional compensation if your injuries are more expensive than you anticipated.
A San Jose spinal cord injury lawyer from our office can perform the following services for you on a contingency basis:
- Collect and review all medical records, police reports, etc.
- Review any outstanding offers from the insurance company
- Consult with medical experts about your treatment, rehabilitation plan, and prognosis
- Interview witnesses
- Review discovery evidence from the opposing console
- Determine the full value of your case
- Negotiation with the insurance company for fair compensation
- File a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf
Our goal as personal injury lawyers is to recover compensation on your behalf while you undergo the recovery process for your injuries. For free legal help, contact Caputo & Van Der Walde, LLP.
Spinal Cord Injury FAQs
These are some of the most common questions clients ask spinal cord injury lawyers. If you would like to ask questions about your case, contact the San Jose office of Caputo & Van Der Walde, LLP, for a free consultation.
Should I speak to the insurance adjuster or a spinal cord injury attorney first?
You may be contacted by the insurance adjuster fairly early in your case. However, it’s in your best interest to involve a San Jose personal injury attorney as early as possible.
Who will pay my medical bills if I’m in an accident that results in spinal cord injury?
When you’re suffering from a severe injury to the spine and working on your recovery, the last thing you need to worry about is the medical costs of your injuries. Our attorneys can prepare letters of protection that guarantee payment to your doctors and specialists once you receive compensation through a settlement or court award.
Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys for San Jose Plaintiffs
If you’ve been injured in an accident, our San Jose personal injury lawyers can review your case on a contingency basis. You will not have to pay out of pocket for our professional legal services. Call today!