Brain and Spinal Cord Injuries
Catastrophic Injuries Change Your Quality of Life
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain or spinal cord injury due to the neglect of another, you are acutely aware of how high the stakes are in such circumstances. These devastating injuries are life-changing events with permanent physical, emotional, and financial consequences for victims and those close to them. They usually require lifelong care entailing hundreds of thousands, and sometimes millions of dollars in expenses, that can neither be predicted nor ignored.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) affect how our brain works, and constitute a major cause of death and disability in the United States. Each year, TBIs result in 53,000 deaths, 300,000 hospitalizations, and 2.1 million emergency room visits in the US. In the State of Colorado alone, about 2,200 individuals continue to experience disability one year after hospitalization for a TBI. Even though the severity and long-term effects of each TBI will differ from person to person, sustaining such an injury is likely to impact your personality, thinking, and emotions. It may also significantly impair your performance as well as adversely affect your daily activities.
Along with TBIs, spinal cord injuries (SCIs) are considered among the most serious types of injury one can incur. The number of new SCI cases each year is about 17,900, while the estimated number of people currently living in the United States with an SCI is approximately 296,000. Such injuries may render a person dependent on caregivers, with assistive technology often required to facilitate mobility, communication, self-care, and domestic activities.
Brain and spinal cord injuries are commonly caused by:
- Vehicular accidents
- Sports injuries
- Physical violence
Our experienced legal team at Legal Help in Colorado provides compassionate legal representation and advice to all victims. Our main aim is to allow them to focus on their healing and rehabilitation while making sure they get the compensation they need in order to move on with their lives in the best way possible.
Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Basics
The first, most critical action one needs to take after suffering a traumatic brain or spinal cord injury, is to seek proper medical assistance. Get an accurate assessment of the damage caused and set up an appropriate care plan. In addition to this, given that no victim should have to suffer while also worrying about the long-term financial effects such injuries may have, it is vital that you speak to a seasoned personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer will be able to thoroughly review the particulars of your case and advise you as to the options you may have in terms of seeking compensation.
To put it frankly, as both traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries can have such a dramatic effect on your everyday life, you must explore the possibility of seeking compensation. The funds you may receive will be invaluable in terms of receiving long-term medical care, addressing your potential inability to seek gainful employment, and so on. Toward that goal, you must document your injuries as extensively as possible and collect all relevant paperwork, medical files, and key person contact details as diligently as possible. These will be of utmost importance in terms of calculating and supporting any claim.
Facts to Keep in Mind
Unsettling as it may be, the long-term effects of traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries can be extremely far-reaching and may require extensive and lifelong care and assistance. A considerable number of them even lead to fatalities: each year, about 2.5 million individuals have TBIs of which approximately 50,000 result in death, and over 80,000 suffer permanent disability, with TBI being a contributing factor to a third of all injury-related deaths in the U.S.
People with a spinal cord injury, which can literally change one’s life in an instant, are said to be two to five times more likely to die prematurely than people without a spinal cord injury. Moreover, SCIs are associated with a risk of developing a number of secondary conditions that can be debilitating, and even life-threatening, such as deep vein thrombosis, urinary tract infections, muscle spasms, osteoporosis, pressure ulcers, chronic pain, respiratory complications, and more. To prevent and manage such conditions, acute care, rehabilitation services, and ongoing health maintenance are deemed essential, whereas many SCI patients present serious signs of depression.
Symptoms to Look out for
Although each injury is, of course, unique, TBIs present a wide range of symptoms, depending on their severity. These may include the following:
- Loss or decreased consciousness
- Loss of memory for events before or after the event (amnesia)
- Blurred vision
- Nausea or vomiting
- Slurred speech
- Convulsions or seizures
- Numbness or tingling of arms or legs
- Uncoordinated or “clumsy” movements
Correspondingly, some of the symptoms most often associated with SCIs are:
- Extreme pain or pressure in the neck, head, or back
- Tingling or loss of sensation in the hand, fingers, feet, or toes
- Partial or complete loss of control over any part of the body
- Urinary or bowel urgency, incontinence, or retention
- Difficulty with balance and walking
- Abnormal band-like sensations in the thorax—pain, pressure
- Impaired breathing after injury
- Unusual lumps on the head or spine
Be very mindful of any symptoms you may have following a brain or spinal cord injury, no matter how harmless they may initially appear, and seek medical help as soon as possible. This is the single, most important factor in addressing your condition and getting you on the road to recovery!
Causes and Outcomes of TBI and SCI
Brain injuries lead to the disruption of the normal function of the brain. They are most commonly caused by a blow, bump, or jolt to the head, when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue (such as from a gunshot). TBIs can be mild, moderate, or severe, and can impact the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. They most commonly occur after falls, firearm-related injuries, motor vehicle and pedestrian accidents , work/construction site accidents , and assaults, and may involve third-party negligence. Some examples include car wrecks, slip-and-falls , sports injuries , as well as incidents involving defective consumer products .
Spinal cord injuries can be the result of direct injury to the spinal cord itself or from damage to the tissue and bones (vertebrae) surrounding it. They can result in temporary or permanent changes in sensation, movement, strength, and body functions below the site of injury. Common causes include trauma, disease, or degeneration.
SCIs are generally classified into one of two categories: complete and incomplete. A complete SCI causes permanent damage to the area affected, with paraplegia or tetraplegia being the result of such injuries. An incomplete SPI refers to partial damage to the spinal cord. In such cases, one’s ability to move and the amount of feeling will depend on the area of the spine affected, as well as on the severity of the injury.
The majority of SCIs induced by trauma are due to preventable causes, such as accidents involving motor vehicles, sports injuries, medical or surgical injuries, industrial accidents, falls, and violence (typically from gunshots or stab wounds).
As can be readily understood, it is impossible to foresee the impact and future medical complications that a TBI or SCI may have upon your life. The short and long-term consequences of this kind of catastrophic injury can range from relatively mild to extremely severe, as they may affect your health, mobility, capacity to perform daily tasks, ability to engage in gainful employment, and your overall physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
For instance, depending on the type of injury, its severity, and what part of the brain is affected, a TBI can have a range of effects that could persist for a long time or even be permanent. Some immediate symptoms of TBIs include seizures, nerve damage, blood clots, narrowing of blood vessels, stroke, coma, and infections in the brain. TBIs may also adversely impact various brain functions in the long term, with some of these problems appearing days or even months after the injury.
Possible longer-term effects of TBI include:
- Problems with cognition, such as learning, remembering, making decisions, and reasoning.
- Issues with your senses, including double vision, a bitter taste in the mouth or loss of the sense of taste, ringing in the ears, and tingling or pain.
- Difficulties in communication, such as trouble talking, reading, writing, and explaining feelings or thoughts.
- Changes in behavior, including difficulty with social situations, relationships, self-control, and aggression.
- Emotional challenges, for example, depression, anxiety, mood swings, and irritability.
Moreover, research suggests that having one or more TBIs may increase the likelihood of subsequently having a disease that causes the breakdown of brain cells, with some evidence indicating that TBI is linked to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
SCI is also a serious medical condition that can lead to functional, psychological, and socioeconomic disorders. Patients often experience significant impairments in various aspects of their lives. Indeed, SCI is a difficult clinical condition that can lead to lifelong disability. Its interconnected secondary complications have been found to increase morbidity and diminish healthy participation in social activities, affecting the overall quality of life of patients.
Generally speaking, the higher the level of the injury to the spinal cord, the more likely it is to be facing severe symptoms. These can vary from numbness to even complete paralysis—where the victim is paralyzed in the lower parts of the body—tetraplegia/ quadriplegia—affecting all limbs and most of the body—or paraplegia—where all or part of the torso, pelvic organs, and legs are affected. Put simply, a severe case of SCI may well mean that the patient will be handicapped for life, with everything else that this entails.
Claiming the Compensation you Deserve
Depending on their severity, both TBIs and SCIs can change your life forever, and they are bound to require expert medical advice and specialized aftercare. Their consequences on your health and livelihood can be immense. Therefore, it is crucial that you receive the best guidance and care available on all fronts, including consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer with a thorough knowledge of this particular field.
In practical terms, the seriousness of your injury is what will determine the appropriate treatment for your individual case, both in its acute, as well as its rehabilitation stage. These considerations will also be decisive in terms of the kind and amount of compensation that you may be entitled to.
A personal injury lawyer will be able to assess your case and advise you as to what kind of legal claim would be more appropriate in your situation, as each case is unique. For example, if your injury was a result of a slip and fall , motor vehicle accident, or an act of violence, an action under the general notion of personal injury or premises liability could be the best option. If, on the other hand, your case is one of medical malpractice , where a health care provider or organization failed to meet the required reasonable care standard, this might require a different approach. The same is true if your situation concerns a TBI or SCI caused to a loved one whose care was entrusted in a nursing home or similar care facility, or in the case of sports accidents or injuries resulting from defective products. The main thing to remember is that you do have rights but it is vital that you receive correct guidance on how to pursue them, and also do so as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Entitlement to Compensation for TBIs and SCIs
Brain and spinal cord injuries are often caused by negligence on the part of another, meaning that they could have been avoided if the party responsible had exhibited the required level of care to preclude them. Accordingly, any claim you may have will be based on the notion that someone else has responsibility for your injury, meaning that they were at fault—and this is something that your attorney will have to prove for the purposes of claiming compensation.
In the legal sense, and with reference to personal injury law, negligence occurs when someone fails to conduct themselves with the level of care expected to be ordinarily exercised by a reasonable person in the circumstances at hand. Assessing whether a person was negligent in any given situation depends primarily on the factual circumstances of each case, and commonly requires a substantial degree of legal analysis involving the presentation of extensive evidence, including those of a medical nature.
Therefore, to be successful in a compensation claim concerning a TBI or SCI, you will need to establish liability on the part of the defendant.
In broad terms, establishing negligence involves proving four key things: duty, breach, causation, and damages/harm:
- You will need to show that the defendant owed you a duty of care under the particular circumstances of the event that led to your injury. For example, doctors and other health care professionals and/or organizations entrusted with your treatment owe a duty of care to their patients. Teachers and coaches owe a duty of care to the students and athletes they supervise. A business owner needs to ensure that premises are safe and well-maintained, and so on.
- Once it is established that you, as a victim, were owed a duty of care by the defendant, it will have to be determined that said duty was actually breached, meaning that the individual in question failed to act in the manner expected by a reasonable person in a similar situation. In other words, the determining question will be whether the defendant lived up to their legal obligations. Clearly, some cases are easier than others: establishing a breach of a driver’s duty of care if they break the speed limit, ignore a red light, and hit a pedestrian who happens to be crossing the street, is different from proving the liability of a supermarket owner who had the floor mopped 2 minutes prior to the fall of a grape that led to a devastating slip and fall of an unsuspecting customer.
- In addition to proving that a duty of care was owed and breached, it is also essential to show that it was this very negligence that caused the accident in question. Therefore, you would need to show, for example, that the loose handrail in the restaurant’s staircase that you fell off from is what actually caused your spinal cord injury, rather than the fact that you were running down the stairs in your stiletto heels to greet your friends who had just arrived.
- The final, and perhaps most decisive element of a successful compensation action—at least in terms of calculating your claim amount—is being able to prove the damage you suffered. This may include economic, but also non-economic loss. The aftermath of TBI and SCI often leads to physical, emotional, as well as financial injuries, all of which need to be properly documented and assessed.
Because of the complex nature of traumatic brain or spine injuries and their underlying causes and effects, the precise extent of the consequences that such devastating injuries will have upon your life must be correctly evaluated. When negotiating a settlement with the at-fault party, but also if you end up resorting to court action by filing a related lawsuit, the amount of money you will be claiming as compensation for your damages will be the main point of contention. The costs arising from TBIs and SCIs will obviously depend greatly on how badly you have been hurt and, in reality, you may be looking into hundreds or even millions of dollars in medical and other related expenses.
Many TBI and SCI victims find themselves unable to take care of themselves after their accident, with many ensuing consequences. We will review your case particulars and, considering the severity of your injury, will do what it takes for you to receive fair compensation from the liable party. Such compensation may include payments for out-of-pocket financial losses incurred due to your accident, covering things such as your medical expenses, essential services, lost wages, and loss of quality of life. They may also include physical and emotional pain and suffering, anxiety, frustration, and loss of enjoyment of life, to name but a few. Bear in mind that there may be caps on the amount of damages you may be able to recover for each type of harm and loss you have suffered.
We will go over your case in detail, discuss your options, and take all necessary steps to ascertain the amount of damages you should receive, so you can work on your rehabilitation and towards acquiring the best possible level of quality of life possible.
If you or a loved one have suffered a TBI or SCI due to the fault of another, we strongly advise you to seek legal help as soon as possible, since there may be time limits applicable in respect of filing an action for compensation. A personal injury attorney will help you determine what type of action would be most suitable for your particular case and let you how long you have to pursue a claim for financial compensation. Observing statutes of limitation is absolutely vital, as waiting too long to assert your rights may have severe consequences for your chances of success. Failing to file your claim within the prescribed period may mean that the party responsible for your or your loved one’s injury could use this as a defense to liability. Therefore, it pays to act quickly and proactively, and make informed decisions.
In the state of Colorado, the statute of limitations in most cases involving non-fatal injuries is two years, with this limitation period typically running from the date of the accident. Even so, there are numerous exceptions, such as, for example, in cases concerning auto-accidents, or when it comes to wrongful death actions . Therefore, seeking legal advice concerning time limitations is also of the essence.
Suffering any kind of injury can be a life-alerting event for the victim and their loved ones. Especially when it comes to traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, the consequences can be extremely severe or even fatal. Such events are always stressful, as well as painful, for all those involved, and pursuing a claim is a very complicated matter, demanding skill and expertise. This is precisely why you should have an experienced team on your side, with the kind of knowledge, skills, professional affiliations, and attitude towards insurance companies and other such entities required for the best outcome possible.
Contact Legal Help in Colorado
Ross Ziev, along with our entire legal team at Legal Help in Colorado, is committed to getting justice for victims of negligence. We are well-seasoned in this area of law and set to pursue your claim aggressively, without succumbing to intimidation practices commonly adopted by at-fault parties.
Reach out to us today to schedule an appointment. Initial consultations are free and conducted with absolute confidence. If we take on your case, you can rest assured that our contingency payment policy means that you will not have to worry about being able to afford a skilled lawyer, on top of all other pressing considerations, as we only get paid when we win your case. Contact Legal Help in Colorado online, call us at (303) 351-2567, or visit our offices at 8480 E Orchard Road, STE #2400, Greenwood Village CO 80111 to discuss your case!
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