Rhode Island Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer
Spinal cord injuries can have life-long consequences that affect every aspect of a victim’s life. Costs can be astronomical, which is why it is important to have an experienced Rhode Island spinal cord injury lawyer help you seek damages from those responsible.
What Is A Spinal Cord Injury?
The spinal cord is a long, tube-like bundle of nerves that runs from the base of the skull all the way down your back to your tailbone. It’s surrounded by 33 stacked bones called vertebrae, which help to house the spinal cord and protect it from harm.
A spinal cord injury refers to trauma that damages the spinal cord, vertebrae, discs, or surrounding tissue.
These types of injuries can be life-changing because the spinal cord is part of the central nervous system (CNS). It’s instrumental in relaying between the brain and the rest of the body.
When the spinal cord is damaged, so is the body’s ability to communicate with itself. The extent and consequences of a spinal cord injury typically depend on two things: the level of the injury and the severity of the trauma.
Level Of Spinal Cord Injury
There are five distinct sections of the spine, each of which is responsible for communicating with a different part of the body.
- Cervical spine: Located in the neck, the cervical spine comprises seven vertebrae and spinal nerves C1 through C8. It controls movements in the neck, shoulder, arms, and hands.
- Thoracic spine: Located in the upper back, the thoracic spine consists of 12 vertebrae and spinal nerves T1 through T12. It controls movement in the upper back, abdomen, and chest.
- Lumbar spine: Located in the mid-to-lower back, the lumbar spine consists of five vertebrae and spinal nerves L1 through L5. It controls movement in the legs, bladder, and bowels.
- Sacral spine: Located at the base of the back just above the tailbone, the sacral spine comprises five vertebrae and spinal nerves S1 through S5. It controls movements in the lower legs, genitals, and anus.
- Coccyx: Spinal nerves attach to this small triangle-shaped bone at the base of the tailbone. It’s responsible for movement in the pelvic floor.
The impact of spinal cord injuries are measured in part by the point on the spine where the injury occurs. The higher up on the spine the injury occurs, the more catastrophic the consequences because everything below the level of the injury is affected.
If you suffer an injury to the sacral spine, the damage will be limited to your lower legs and genital area. However, if you sustain an injury to the cervical spine, the brain’s ability to communicate with all areas below the neck can become jeopardized.
Essentially, communication with the body cuts off at the point of injury. The higher the disruption, the more devastating the consequences.
Effects Of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries can be complete or incomplete. This refers to the level of damage to the nerves. Complete injuries completely cut off nerve signals and bodily function. Victims of incomplete spinal cord injuries retain some function because the nerves can still relay messages to some extent.
Depending on the location of the injury and the extent of the trauma, potential effects of a spinal cord injury include:
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of voluntary movement
- Decreased sensation in the extremities
- Loss of control of the bladder or bowels
- Involuntary reflexes
- Unstable heart rate
- Breathing difficulty
- Difficulty regulating body temperature
Paralysis is a common consequence of spinal cord injuries.
Again, the type of paralysis a victim may experience will depend on the level and severity of the injury. The levels of paralysis are as follows:
- Monoplegia; loss of movement in one arm or leg
- Hemiplegia: loss of movement in one arm and one leg on the same side of the body
- Paraplegia: loss of movement in both legs
- Tetraplegia, also known as quadriplegia: loss of movement in the arms, trunk, and legs
What Are The Treatments For An Acute Spinal Cord Injury?
Spinal cord injuries require immediate medical care.
Treatments that have proven effective in healing and limiting the extent of spinal cord injuries include:
- Diagnostic tests, including CT scans, MRIs, and X-rays
- Immobilizing the spine to prevent additional damage
- Medications like methylprednisolone
- Surgery to repair damage to the spinal nerves, remove foreign objects, and stabilize the spinal column
Some experimental treatments, such as intentional hypothermia, have also proven effective in treating acute spinal cord injuries.
Rehabilitation is often a necessary course of treatment for spinal cord injury victims. It can be used to maintain muscle mass, prevent muscle degeneration, and retrain the body to perform daily life tasks (e.g., eating, bathing, walking).
What Are The Leading Causes Of Spinal Cord Injuries?
Research suggests that between 250,000 and 450,000 people live with spinal cord injuries. It’s estimated that there are 17,000 new spinal cord injuries in the United States every year.
According to the World Health Organization, the most common causes of these spinal cord injuries include:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Assault and other acts of violence
However, any traumatic accident can potentially cause damage to the spinal column.
At Marasco & Nesselbush, our spinal cord injury attorneys in Rhode Island represent clients in cases involving:
If you or a family member has recently suffered an injury to the spinal cord in a Rhode Island accident, reach out to a member of our compassionate legal team to discuss your rights.
What Is My Spinal Cord Injury Case Worth?
The consequences of an injury to the spinal cord can touch every corner of your life. In just the first year of living with a spinal cord injury, the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation estimates that medical treatments can cost anywhere between $379,000 (for loss of motor function at any level) to more than $1.1 million (for damage to the high cervical spine). In subsequent years, medical expenses can cost tens, if not thousands, of dollars.
These figures don’t include indirect costs and expenses like lost wages or emotional distress. Over the course of a lifetime, a severe cervical spinal cord injury can cost a 25-year-old victim more than $5 million. The same injury could cost a 50-year-old victim just over $2.5 million. So how much money can you expect to receive if you’ve sustained a spinal cord injury in a Rhode Island accident?
The answer is that the lifetime medical and living costs for a spinal cord injury will vary from case to case. There are many factors important to the valuation process, such as:
- Did you suffer a complete or incomplete spinal cord injury?
- What was the level of your spinal cord injury?
- What are your current medical expenses?
- How has your earning capacity been affected?
- Did your spinal cord injury aggravate any existing medical issues?
- Do you share responsibility for the accident that caused your spine injury?
- How will your day-to-day life change?
- How old were you at the time of the accident?
- What kind of psychological trauma have you experienced?
The more your life changes because of the spinal cord injury, the more money you can typically expect to receive when you file a personal injury lawsuit.
Don’t underestimate the impact your attorney can have on your case, too. Choosing an experienced attorney with a demonstrated ability to win tough spine injury cases can set you up for a meaningful financial victory.
What Damages Can I Recover If I File A Rhode Island Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit?
By filing an insurance claim or lawsuit after an accident in Rhode Island, you can typically recover economic damages and non-economic damages for your spinal cord injury.
Economic damages are awarded to compensate for the verifiable costs and expenses related to a spinal cord injury, such as:
- Medical devices and equipment
- Rehabilitation and therapy
- Alterations or modifications to a home or vehicle to accommodate a disability
- Lost wages
- Lost job opportunities
- Nursing assistance
Non-economic damages are paid to make up for the intangible, hard-to-value trauma and life changes, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Mental anguish
- Chronic physical pain
- Reduced quality of life
In a very limited number of situations, punitive damages might also be awarded. However, a Rhode Island jury would have to find clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted intentionally, maliciously, or with reckless disregard for the victim’s safety.
Our Rhode Island spinal cord injury attorneys will work closely with leading experts and specialists throughout the claims process. We will rely heavily on their insight and expertise as we analyze evidence, identify your damages, and work to assess the value of your case. With their help, we will be able to fully appreciate how your spinal cord injury affects your life (and how it will likely impact you for years to come). This knowledge will help us secure a more meaningful award for you during settlement negotiations or at trial.
What's The Deadline To File A Personal Injury Claim If I've Suffered A Spinal Cord Injury In Rhode Island?
In Rhode Island, you will have three years from the date of the accident that caused your spinal cord injury to file a personal injury lawsuit for damages.
There may be limited exceptions to this rule, but they are few and far between.
Don’t allow the deadline to expire without taking action. If this happens, you’ll give up the opportunity to assert your rights and demand financial accountability from those responsible.
Protect yourself and safeguard your financial future by contacting an experienced Rhode Island spine injury attorney immediately after you get hurt.
Arrange A Free Consultation With A Trusted Rhode Island Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer
You may have the right to recover a substantial monetary award if you’ve recently suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident in Rhode Island. If someone else caused you to get hurt, the Rhode Island spinal cord injury lawyers at Marasco & Nesselbush are ready to help you seek financial justice.
For more than 23 years, we’ve dedicated our careers to helping catastrophically-injured victims move forward after devastating accidents. Now it’s your turn to benefit from our experience, resources, and reputation as leading personal injury attorneys in Rhode Island.
We represent clients in Providence, Warwick, Wakefield, Woonsocket, and across Rhode Island. Reach out to a member of our skilled legal team today for a free consultation. We are always available to provide the guidance and help you need.