Maryland Law Protects the Rights of Spinal Cord Injury Victims
Any harm to the body can lead to horrific pain and long-term consequences, but spinal cord injuries can be uniquely terrible. The spine offers extensive function, structure, and movement for different areas of the body, so victims can suffer considerably when an injury affects the spinal cord.
How Spinal Cord Injuries Affect the Body
Generally speaking, the higher on the spine the injury occurs, the more devastating the effects for the human body. However, an injury to the vertebrae does not necessarily affect the spinal cord, as these bones do a good job of protecting the delicate tissues. In addition, you should note that the spinal cord could in some instances suffer trauma without any damage to the vertebrae.
Notwithstanding the above, spinal cord injuries generally fall into two categories:
- Complete Spinal Cord Injury: When a victim has no sensation, movement, or function below the location of the damage, the injury is considered complete. Paralysis at the upper end of the spine could lead to quadriplegia, since the victim has no control over the four limbs of the body and some bodily functions. Quadriplegia is often the result of a catastrophic spinal cord injury above the thoracic spine. When the trauma is further down from the thoracic region, a complete spinal cord injury may cause paraplegia. Complete injuries can affect any part of the spinal cord, equally on both sides of the body. The most serious injuries we as lawyers encounter, short of death, often involve this type of injury
- Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury: If you have some mobility and function below the area of the injury, you may have suffered an incomplete spinal cord injury. The same is true if you have more mobility, sensation, or control on one side of the body as compared to the other. When the injury results in loss of function for one arm and both legs, the condition is termed triplegia. Additional implications may include:
- The exact nature of the long-term effects of a spinal cord injury depend on the region affected, the severity of the trauma, and whether the injury was complete or incomplete. Rehabilitation is possible, but full recovery is usually unlikely. Many patients lose a certain amount of independence and are reliant on others for care. Injury victims of this type may be confined to a wheelchair, but in some circumstances, they may not be able to propel it without assistive technology.
Long-Term Complications from Spinal Cord Injuries
- Reliance on a ventilator for respiratory function;
- Feeding through assistive devices;
- Needing help with grooming, dressing, and other hygiene functions;
- Being unable to transfer from the wheelchair to a car, bed, chair, or other surfaces;
- An inability to drive, or driving with special adaptations;
- Lack of control over bowel and bladder functions;
- Limited sitting balance;
- Use of crutches, braces, or other assistive devices for walking short distances; and,
- Many other complications.
- Though some conditions are genetic, many spinal cord injuries are the result of preventable accidents or intentional acts. When carelessness or reckless conduct causes such incidents, the situation is termed “negligence” in legal terminology. If you have suffered such an injury, you may have legal recourse if you can prove the following.
Your Rights as a Victim of an Accident
- The responsible party had a duty to exercise reasonable care;
- That person or entity failed to comply with this duty;
- The breach of duty caused the accident in which you suffered spinal cord injuries and caused the resulting harm to you.
Examples of Negligence
There are many ways that negligence can lead to injury-causing accidents, and motor vehicle collisions are perhaps the most common. Drivers may exhibit negligence through speeding, drunk driving, improper lane changes, and other carelessness. One of the most dangerous forms of negligence behind the wheel has increased significantly in recent years — distracted driving. Commonly associated with texting while behind the wheel, distracted driving encompasses many other activities that take the motorist’s attention away from operating the vehicle.
Additionally, there are many other scenarios in which negligence causes spinal cord injuries, such as:
- Accidents involving pedestrians and bicycle riders;
- Slip and falls and other incidents that result from dangerous conditions on property;
- Dog bites and animal attacks;
- Injuries from dangerous products;
- Birth injuries; and,
- Many others.
- If you can successfully prove the above elements of a negligence case, you may be able to recover monetary damages for your spinal cord injury, including but not limited to:
Compensation for Spinal Cord Injuries
- Medical costs;
- Lost wages, if your spinal cord injuries prevent you from working;
- Pain, suffering, and disfigurement;
- Losses based upon your relationships with your spouse, children, and other loved ones; and,
- Future economic losses (diminished earning capacity etc.)
- Many other types of compensation.
- If you or a loved one has been hurt or suffered a serious spinal cord injury due to an accident, please contact the Baltimore or Northern Virginia office of Bob Katz. We can set up a free consultation with a personal injury attorney who can explain your rights and remedies.