Car collisions, truck wrecks, motorcycle crashes, and other traumatic accidents have the potential to cause truly catastrophic injuries. Of the injuries associated with serious accidents, few are as devastating as spinal cord injuries that result in permanent forms of paralysis like paraplegia and quadriplegia.
There are approximately 270,000 people in the United States who are living with the effects of a severe spinal cord injury and an additional 12,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, according to data from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center in Birmingham, Alabama.
Paraplegia and quadriplegia are conditions that can significantly and negatively affect a person's ability to lead a normal life after an accident. People diagnosed with these types of paralysis often require extensive medical treatment and assistive care services, the cost of which can seem insurmountable.
However, if the paraplegia and quadriplegia are related to injuries sustained in an accident caused by another person's negligence, the victim may be entitled to compensation.
Paralysis Associated With Catastrophic Injuries
Paraplegia and quadriplegia are the two main types of paralysis associated with accidents and catastrophic injuries. Paraplegia, which affects the legs and lower body, is usually caused by nerve damage in the lumbar or thoracic vertebrae.
Quadriplegia, also known as tetraplegia, involves the loss of sensation and movement to both the upper and lower body and is often caused by injuries to the thoracic or the cervical vertebrae. Considered the most severe form of paralysis, quadriplegia can affect the nerves that control breathing, making the use of a ventilator necessary in some cases.
Spinal cord injuries like paraplegia and quadriplegia can be categorized as “complete” or “partial.” Complete spinal cord injuries are those that cause a complete loss of movement and sensation, while partial spinal cord injuries allow the brain to transmit some signals, so slight sensation and motion may be possible.
People with paraplegia and quadriplegia are also at risk of developing complications related to their paralysis, such as:
- Pressure sores
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Muscular atrophy
- Weakened immune systems
- Pulmonary embolism
- Blood clots
Common Causes of Paraplegia and Quadriplegia
Paraplegia and quadriplegia can be caused by any number of accidents and even birth defects. The leading causes of paralysis include:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle crashes
- Slip and fall accidents
- Violence (such as gunshot wounds or assaults)
- Sports-related injuries
- Medical or surgical injuries
Damages Available for Accident Victims Affected by Paraplegia and Quadriplegia
Medical expenses for paraplegics and quadriplegics add up quickly and many families find it difficult to keep up. However, if another person's negligence caused the accident that resulted in the paralysis, accident victims may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation from the at-fault party.
Knowledgeable personal injury attorneys can help paraplegic and quadriplegic clients pursue compensation for a wide range of damages that include:
- Past medical expenses related to the accident
- Ongoing medical treatment costs
- Rehabilitation fees
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning potential
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Permanent disability
- Diminished quality of life
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Hiring an Attorney
Not every accident victim needs an attorney, or to file a lawsuit. In cases where fault is not disputed, and injuries and other damages are minor, filing an insurance claim may suffice. However, in cases involving serious injuries and damages, there's far too much on the line to leave the outcome to chance. A skilled personal injury attorney uses their extensive legal knowledge to protect the interests of their client and ensure that they receive a fair financial recovery.
Accident victims may benefit from hiring an attorney if:
- The accident happened fewer than 18 months ago
- The related injuries, property damages, and lost wages exceed $2,000
- The accident was caused by someone else's negligence
- The victim sought medical treatment after the accident and has received regular treatment
- The injuries necessitated surgery
- The party at fault for the accident has insurance
Exploring Legal Options
An accident that results in serious injuries such as paraplegia and quadriplegia can leave victims feeling confused, frustrated, and unsure of their options—particularly if they have no previous experience navigating the legal system.
After filing a personal injury lawsuit, plaintiffs have two main choices: they can accept a monetary award and settle their case out of court, or take their case all the way to court and take their chances in front of a judge and jury. Which choice is best depends on the circumstances of the case, but it is important for accident victims to find an attorney who is committed to doing what's best for their clients. Some personal injury attorneys decline to take cases to court—which can limit their client's options for recovery if negotiations fail or the opposing side submits a low settlement offer.
That is not to say that taking a case to court is always the key to success. Court cases can be lengthy, stressful, costly, and intrusive. It can be years before the plaintiff sees a cent of compensation, even if they win.
A personal injury attorney can examine the facts of the case and advise their client of all their legal options.
Do You Need a Personal Injury Attorney?
If you were paralyzed in an accident, your life may never be as it once was. However, if the accident was not your fault and was caused by another person's negligent actions, you may be entitled to compensation that can help ensure you are able to receive the care you need and deserve.
Contact Case Barnett Law today to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation initial case consultation. We are ready and willing to fight for your right to recovery—both in and out of the courtroom.