Spinal Injuries and Paralysis

While traumatic spinal injuries and paralysis comprise a minority of car accident injuries, they are among the most serious. Crashes are the catalyst for 46 percent of all spinal cord injuries annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Atlanta car accident attorney Stephen M. Ozcomert recognizes claimants in these cases will face a lifetime of challenges, and potentially even a shortened lifespan. Their ability to work, carry out basic functions and enjoy life as they once did may be significantly curtailed if not ruined.

Accountability for the negligence that caused this is of course important, but the foremost thought is grappling with the enormous expense of this new life. Beyond the initial hospitalizations and surgeries, there is long-term treatment and care, physical and occupational therapies, home health aides and nurses, regular doctors’ appointments, mobility concerns and more.

The case value of any spinal cord injury is dependent on the extent and severity of one’s injuries, but spinal cord injuries (paralysis especially) can result in life-altering, permanent disability. It’s not uncommon for an experienced injury attorney to secure $1 million or more in these cases. Because the stakes in these cases are so high, thorough preparation of your case is critical. It often requires extensive medical records and expert witness testimony on several fronts – from causation to damages. You can be assured that when we take on your spinal injury and paralysis lawsuit, we are confident it has a strong chance of success.

How Car Accidents Cause Spinal Injuries

Violent car accidents can cause a range of injuries. One of the ways they can impact the spine is by causing the spine to flex beyond its normal range of motion. This alone can cause severe injuries. In other cases, a person’s head may impact something in the vehicle or if he/ she is thrown from the vehicle, this can cause major spinal column compression, which result in paralysis.

Another injury we see frequently in crashes are disc problems. This is when damage is inflicted to the spongy discs between the bones in the spine. After a crash, you may be diagnosed with a “slipped disc” or “bulging disc” or “ruptured disc.” Each of these can cause serious problems.

One study published in the Asian Journal of Neurosurgery revealed the majority injuries to the lumbrosacral region of the spine (the lower back) to be the most common. Previous studies in Europe have indicated injuries to the cervical spine (the neck) to be more common. Rollover accident victims are at especially at high risk for cervical spine injuries.

In the U.S. the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistic Center reports there are approximately 17,000 new spinal cord injury cases annually. While the average age of spinal cord victims in the 1970s was 29, today it is 42. This is partially a measure of our aging population and of the fact that while motor vehicles are generally safer than in years’ past, older occupants are more prone to suffer serious and disabling injuries.

Damages in Atlanta Car Accident Spinal Injuries

One of the more involved tasks for personal injury attorneys in spinal injury cases is establishing damages incurred by victims. Valuation guides typically use actual jury awards and settlement figures in previous cases to set a range for what a plaintiff may expect to recover if successful. Lifetime costs of spinal cord injuries, according to the NSCISC, climbs according to the severity of injury.

Average yearly expenses (which account for health care costs and living expenses, but not indirect costs such as lost wages, fringe benefits or productivity) are approximately $520,000 in the first year for someone with paraplegia (loss of use of both legs and sometimes pelvis), and $70,000 annually after that. Someone with high tetraplegia (also known as quadriplegia, where someone loses use of all four limbs) will incur costs the first year of more than $1 million, with each subsequent year incurring losses of $185,000 or more.

Someone who becomes quadriplegic at age 25 can expect at minimum to incur about $5 million in lifetime costs. Someone who becomes quadriplegic at 50 can expect to incur $2.6 million in lifetime costs. Again, these figures don’t include the indirect costs, which are estimated at an average of $73,000 annually. This can vary widely depending on one’s education, pre-injury employment history and level of neurological impairment.

Unfortunately, while we’ve made impressive strides on so many fronts in science and medicine, we have yet to find a cure for paralysis. When a nerve is severed or damaged to a certain extent, there can be no way to replace it. Victims of spinal cord injuries and paralysis are often focused on working to live as independently and comfortably as possible.

Establishing the full extent of these losses – and the responsibility of named defendants to pay for them – is a challenge that should only be trusted to a car accident attorney in Atlanta with extensive experience. Depending on the nature of the crash, there may be multiple defendants/ sources of potential compensation. It’s important in cases with these devastating injuries to carefully explore them all. Our injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you do not cover the cost of attorney’s fees unless we are successful.

If you have been injured in a Georgia car accident, contact Atlanta Car Accident Attorney Stephen M. Ozcomert at (404)-370-1000.