What If I Suffer A Spinal Cord Injury?

Home / Legal / What If I Suffer A Spinal Cord Injury?

What If I Suffer A Spinal Cord Injury?

Experiencing a spinal cord injury (SCI) is a profoundly life-changing event that can have significant physical, emotional, and psychological effects. The spinal cord is a crucial part of the central nervous system, responsible for transmitting signals between the brain and the body. When it is injured, the consequences can range from temporary pain and limited movement to permanent paralysis. Understanding the immediate steps to take and long-term management strategies can help individuals and their families navigate this challenging journey.

Immediate Response And Medical Care

In the event of a spinal cord injury, receiving immediate medical attention is vital. Emergency responders are trained to stabilize the spine to prevent further damage during transport to a hospital. At the hospital, doctors will conduct diagnostic tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs, to determine the extent of the injury.

The severity of a spinal cord injury is classified based on the level of the spinal cord affected and the extent of the injury. An injury is considered “complete” if there is a total loss of sensation and motor function below the injury site, and “incomplete” if some function remains.

Acute Treatment

During the acute phase, treatment focuses on minimizing damage and stabilizing the patient. This may involve using medications like corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, performing surgery to remove bone fragments or herniated discs pressing on the spinal cord, and stabilizing the spine with rods and screws.

Rehabilitation And Long-term Care

Once the patient is stabilized, the focus shifts to rehabilitation and long-term care. Rehabilitation aims to help the patient regain as much independence as possible and typically involves a multidisciplinary team, including physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, psychologists, and social workers.

  • Physical Therapy. Physical therapy focuses on strengthening the muscles that remain functional, improving cardiovascular health, and enhancing overall physical well-being. Techniques may include exercises, functional electrical stimulation, and training with mobility aids like wheelchairs.
  • Occupational Therapy. This helps individuals relearn daily activities and adapt their living environments to their new needs. This may involve learning to use adaptive equipment for dressing, bathing, and cooking.
  • Psychological Support. Coping with a spinal cord injury can be emotionally challenging. Psychological support, including counseling and support groups, can help individuals and their families deal with the emotional aspects of the injury and foster resilience.

Preventing Complications

Individuals with spinal cord injuries are at risk for various secondary complications, such as pressure sores, urinary tract infections, and respiratory issues. Preventing these complications involves proactive healthcare and self-care strategies.

  • Skin Care. Regularly checking the skin for signs of pressure sores and using pressure-relieving devices can help prevent these painful and potentially serious issues.
  • Bladder And Bowel Management. Effective management plans are essential to prevent infections and maintain overall health. This may include catheterization, bowel programs, and medications.
  • Respiratory Health. Depending on the level of the injury, respiratory function may be compromised. Techniques like assisted coughing, respiratory therapy, and, in some cases, mechanical ventilation can support respiratory health.

Legal Assistance After A Spinal Cord Injury

Experiencing a spinal cord injury can be a traumatic and life-changing event, with consequences going beyond medical and rehabilitative care. Legal issues often come up after such an injury, and seeking legal assistance can be crucial to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation and support you deserve.

Understanding Your Legal Rights

After a spinal cord injury, several legal considerations may come into play.

  • Personal Injury Claims. If your spinal cord injury was caused by someone else’s negligence, you might be entitled to compensation through a personal injury claim. This can include injuries resulting from car accidents, workplace accidents, medical malpractice or defective products.
  • Workers’ Compensation. If the injury occurred at work, you might be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, which can cover medical expenses, lost wages, and rehabilitation costs.
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) And Supplemental Security Income (SSI). If your injury prevents you from working, you may qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits. Navigating these applications can be complex, and legal assistance can help ensure that you present a strong case.
  • Insurance Claims. Dealing with insurance companies can be challenging. Whether it’s health insurance, disability insurance or auto insurance, an attorney can help you negotiate and secure the benefits you are entitled to.

The Role Of A Personal Injury Lawyer

Personal injury lawyers are experts in cases involving injuries caused by negligence or wrongdoing.

  • Case Evaluation. A lawyer will evaluate your case to determine if you have a valid claim and advise you on the best course of action.
  • Gathering Evidence. They will help gather the necessary evidence to support your claim, such as medical records, accident reports, and witness statements.
  • Attorneys are skilled negotiators and can interact with insurance companies and opposing parties to seek a fair settlement on your behalf.
  • If a fair settlement cannot be reached, your lawyer can file a lawsuit and represent you in court.

Workers’ Compensation Claims

If your spinal cord injury occurred in the workplace, an attorney can assist in several ways.

  • Filing Claims. They can help you file your workers’ compensation claim accurately and on time, minimizing the risk of denial due to technical errors.
  • Appealing Denied Claims. If your claim is denied, an attorney can help you appeal the decision and fight for the benefits you deserve.
  • Ensuring Full Benefits. Workers’ compensation benefits can include medical treatment, wage replacement, and vocational rehabilitation. An attorney can ensure you receive all the benefits you are entitled to.

Social Security Disability Benefits

Applying for Social Security Disability benefits can be a daunting process. An attorney can assist you with these aspects.

  • Preparing Your Application. Ensuring that your application is complete and accurately reflects the extent of your disability.
  • Gathering Medical Evidence. Collecting and presenting comprehensive medical documentation to support your claim.
  • Representing You At Hearings. If your application is denied, an attorney can represent you at hearings and appeals, presenting your case to an administrative law judge.

Insurance Claims

Insurance companies often try to minimize payouts. A lawyer can help with the following.

  • Interpreting Policy Language. Insurance policies can be complex and difficult to understand. An attorney can explain your rights and obligations under the policy.
  • Filing Claims. Ensuring that claims are filed correctly and within the required time frames.
  • Challenging Denied Claims. If an insurance company denies your claim, an attorney can challenge the denial and work to get the decision overturned.

Additional Legal Considerations

In addition to the above areas, there are other legal aspects where an attorney might be helpful.

  • Estate Planning. After a spinal cord injury, revisiting your estate plan is important. This might include updating wills, trusts, and powers of attorney to reflect your current situation.
  • Ensuring compliance with laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to prevent discrimination in the workplace or in public spaces.
  • Guardianship And Conservatorship. If the injury has severely impaired cognitive function, legal assistance may be needed to establish guardianship or conservatorship arrangements.

You Deserve The Best Legal Assistance

If you or a loved one has been severely injured, don’t delay – call (800) 529-0804 right now for a free consultation with an expert car accident lawyer. When dealing with a stressful situation, you need a knowledgeable personal injury team to guide you through the recovery process. Contact Tatum & Atkinson, PLLC right away! There is no obligation, and it will not cost you anything to learn about your legal possibilities for pursuing compensation.


Share this: