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Fort Lauderdale Spinal Cord Injuries & Paralysis Lawyer

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The spinal cord is one of the most important parts of the body. Without this bundle of nerves functioning properly, the brain is unable to send signals to other vital organs and muscles. An injury to the spinal cord may result in reduced function in the extremities, organ failure, paralysis, or even death.

Even with these potentially catastrophic consequences, you are not guaranteed compensation if you pursue a personal injury claim after suffering a spinal cord injury. You and your attorney must prove that one or more defendants were liable for the incident that resulted in your injuries. In these claims, the defendant may try to argue that you were responsible for their own losses.

Kogan & DiSalvo has decades of experience helping spine injury victims pursue the compensation they need and deserve. We fully measure your losses, investigate the incident that caused your injury, and demand full payments from all at-fault parties.

Please call (561) 944-2382 for a free consultation with a Fort Lauderdale spinal cord injury lawyer who can review your case. Our legal team also serves clients throughout Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Stuart, Delray Beach, West Palm Beach, and beyond.

Doctor Holding and Showing Vertebrae on Skeleton

What Is a Spinal Cord Injury?

A spinal cord injury (SCI) refers to any type of damage or trauma to the tight bundle of nerves that transmits signals between the brain and the rest of the body. A spinal cord injury may result from direct trauma to the spinal cord itself or the surrounding tissue and vertebrae that encase the nerve bundle.

According to 2020 data reports from the National SCI Statistical Center, nearly 18,000 spinal cord injuries are diagnosed each year, and the majority of victims are male.

When someone suffers a spinal cord injury, the nerves above the level of trauma remain functional and intact. Any nerve signals from below the level of injury are generally blocked. Injuries that occur high in the spinal cord typically render greater impairment. As an example, injuries to the upper neck can cause loss of movement in the arms and legs, as well as loss of bowel control, sexual ability, and respiratory function.

Types of Spinal Injuries

Damaged disks, fractured vertebra, and injured or pinched nerves can produce irreversible effects on both voluntary and involuntary bodily functions.

There are four areas of spinal cord trauma:

  • Cervical: Injury to the spinal cord in the neck, affecting the body below the head.
  • Thoracic: Injury to the spinal cord in the upper back, affecting the body from the trunk downward.
  • Lumbar: Injury to the spinal cord in the lower back, affecting mobility and bodily function below the waist.
  • Sacral: Injury to the bottom-most portion of the spine. Damage to this area of the spinal cord generally does not result in paralysis, but sensation and bodily functions in and around the hips may be affected.

If the spinal cord is severed, the injury is classified as catastrophic, meaning the victim suffers a loss of motion and sensation from the point of injury below. A complete spinal cord injury is defined by Florida law as a “permanent impairment” and in medical terms as “complete.”

A partially severed spinal cord is said to be “incomplete.” Only some motion may be lost, and rehabilitation (generally a mixture of physical therapy, skill-building exercises, emotional support, and electrical stimulation of the nerves) may restore certain functions such as breathing, coughing, and bladder control. Even with treatment, however, the impairment of an incomplete spinal cord injury may be permanent.

What Are the Causes of Spinal Cord Injury?

The majority of spinal cord injuries are caused by automotive wrecks. Many different types of vehicles may be involved. Our attorneys have handled spinal cord injuries stemming from:

Falls are another leading cause of spinal cord damage. If you injured your spine in a slip and fall accident, you may be able to recover compensation from the negligent owner or occupant of the property.

Spinal cord injuries may also occur due to physical abuse and assault. Depending on the circumstances, you and your family may have multiple options for legal recourse if a violent attack resulted in a spinal cord injury.

For example, you may have a premises liability claim against a negligent property owner who failed to implement adequate security measures. If the lack of security resulted in an assault that led to your spinal injury, you may be able to recover damages from both the perpetrator (if caught) and the person responsible for the property.

Similarly, in cases of nursing home abuse, both the negligent caregivers and the facility itself may be liable for damages if an elderly resident suffers a spinal cord injury due to neglect or mistreatment.

When negligence is to blame for your pain and suffering, it’s paramount to enlist a Fort Lauerdale spinal cord injury attorney who can protect your rights and seek just compensation from liable parties. At Kogan & DiSalvo, we handle all aspects of the legal process so our clients can focus on their healing and well-being.

Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries are one example of a catastrophic injury. The most extreme cases typically involve paraplegia (paralysis of the lower body) or quadriplegia (paralysis of the upper body and below).

The losses you may experience as a result of this type of injury could have a significant impact on how you live your life – sometimes permanently.

If you suffer a spinal cord injury, you may experience:

  • Loss of mobility/motor function at and below the site of the injury
  • Loss of feeling and sensation
  • Muscle spasms
  • Impaired breathing
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Impaired or total loss of bladder and bowel control
  • Chronic pain

Related health complications are not uncommon after more serious spinal cord injuries. Those who suffer SCI are at a greater risk for developing pressure ulcers or bed sores, caused by a lack of blood flow to underlying tissues. If not treated promptly, these ulcers can become infected and cause life-threatening sepsis. Victims may also suffer from incontinence, impaction, and a dangerous spike in blood pressure.

The Effects of Spinal Cord Injuries

The damages that result from a spinal cord injury are usually astronomical. Most personal injury claims center around the physical losses that a plaintiff experiences. Because the spinal cord is unable to regenerate on its own, and may never fully heal, these injuries can be permanent and require medical attention for the rest of a person’s life. The costs of these medical treatments form a substantial part of claims for damages.

The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center reports that long-term medical and therapeutic care can cost from $1.2 million to $5.1 million over a lifetime. The only way an average family can afford that is to sue for damages with the help of a personal injury lawyer who has a long history of winning complex spinal cord injury claims.

Additionally, it is important to evaluate how a spine injury affects other parts of your life. If the injury is severe enough to keep you out of work, your attorney will estimate how much income you have lost and will lose in the future because of your injury. Defendants who cause spinal cord injuries that result in permanent impairment are liable to provide full payments for that lost economic potential.

Finally, many spinal cord injuries are the result of traumatic events. It follows that you may experience substantial emotional trauma that affects your quality of life. Our attorneys can evaluate the total losses you have sustained because of your spinal cord injury and demand that at-fault defendants provide full compensation.

Types of Paralysis

More than 1.2 million Americans are living with paralysis caused by a spinal cord injury. Paralysis can be temporary or permanent, and is characterized by the inability to move or control certain parts of the body. Any direct trauma to the spinal cord or surrounding tissues has the potential to cause different types of paralysis.

Paraplegia

Paraplegia is the loss of movement, sensation, and motor function in the lower extremities. It usually affects both legs, but may also include the lower part of the abdomen. Paraplegics suffered trauma to the thoracic, lumbar, or sacral regions of the spinal cord. A person with a complete T12 level of injury retains normal upper body movement, but is paralyzed from the waist down. Paraplegics may have little voluntary control over bladder and bowel movements, and will likely use a manual wheelchair. In rare cases, people can regain some mobility if neurons spontaneously regenerate. More commonly, paraplegics benefit from ongoing physical therapy.

Quadriplegia

Quadriplegia, also known as tetraplegia, is paralysis that affects all four limbs and the torso. Quadriplegics are paralyzed from the neck down, though the specific loss of function may differ from person to person depending on the level of injury. Trauma at the highest cervical vertebra (C1) typically impairs breathing and other autonomic functions, leaving victims ventilator-dependent. Because of their immobility, quadriplegics are often more susceptible to respiratory complications, deep vein thrombosis, infections, osteoporosis, and heart disease.

Whether diagnosed with paraplegia or quadriplegia after a spinal cord injury, you need a paralysis attorney Fort Lauderdale residents trust for tenacious advocacy. With world-class representation from Kogan & DiSalvo, you don’t have to settle for less than you deserve. If you’re concerned about legal costs in the wake of a catastrophic spinal cord injury, rest assured that our firm provides contingency-based representation, which means no upfront costs. Our fees are deducted from any settlement or jury verdict procured in your case.

Treating Spinal Cord Injuries

The primary goal of treating spinal cord injuries is to restore maximum function, while preventing further trauma and health complications. SCI treatment will vary depending on the level and extent of injury and may include surgical and non-surgical therapies, including:

  • Traction to re-align and stabilize the spine. This includes Halo collars, braces, and metal pins that are screwed into the outer layer of the skull
  • Intravenous steroid infusions, administered to reduce inflammation from the injury
  • Surgery to remove foreign debris, or bone and disk fragments. Surgery to place spinal braces, screws and fixation devices, or to relieve pressure on the spinal cord (decompression laminectomy)
  • Bone grafting surgery
  • Electrical stimulation devices to help restore sensory and neuromuscular functions
  • Physical therapy to develop muscle strength and help restore mobility and communication
  • Oral medications and injections to manage pain and prevent infection

Most people with more serious spinal cord injuries will require extensive physical rehabilitation on an in-patient or outpatient basis. A qualified rehabilitation team can help victims regain strength and some degree of mobility, and learn to recover skills or use assistive devices to help with daily activities such as bathing, getting dressed, and using the bathroom. They also provide emotional support and counseling, while trying to enhance quality of life. Modern wheelchairs and innovative electronic devices can help spinal cord injury sufferers become more mobile and independent.

What Are My Rights If I’ve Suffered a Spinal Cord Injury?

If you or a loved one suffered spinal cord injuries due to the careless actions or negligence of another, the law affords remedies. Whether your injury was caused by a distracted driver, a slip and fall, or a dangerous work environment, our legal team can assist in pursuing a spinal cord injury claim.

Building Your Spinal Cord Injury Claim

A Fort Lauderdale paralysis attorney begins preparing your case by thoroughly investigating the accident and collecting physical, documentary, and testimonial evidence to use at trial. Medical records are crucial in spinal injury claims because they document your condition and the symptoms you experience, as well as the course of treatment in your case.

Other forms of evidence your lawyer will collect include bills, photographs, medical imaging, etc. In the event that your case goes to trial, your attorney can introduce these as exhibits that establish the severity of your spinal cord injury and the losses you have sustained.

You may need to testify at trial in order to establish how the accident happened, show who was at fault, and describe it. The services of an expert witness will likely be needed as well to testify about the injury.

To recover damages in a spinal cord injury claim, your lawyer will need to prove that the at-fault party was negligent and that this negligence resulted in your injuries. The following elements must be satisfied in order to prove negligence in your claim:

  • Duty of care: A person has a legal obligation to act in a manner that does not cause injury or property damage to another
  • Breach: A person’s act, or an omission of a proper action, violates the duty of care
  • Causation in fact: The breach caused the injury or property damage
  • Proximate cause: The act caused a particular and foreseeable result
  • Damages: Actual monetary loss occurred

In some cases, the parties will negotiate a settlement, averting the need for a jury trial. Should your case proceed to court, however, it is crucial to work with an experienced trial lawyer who can advocate for the full compensation you deserve.

What to Do If You Suffer a Spinal Cord Injury

An injury to the spine or spinal cord is typically incapacitating. It is in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as possible for assistance with the legal aspects of your claim.

However, there are certain steps you can take to protect your rights and improve the likelihood of a favorable settlement or trial result:

Importance of Seeking Medical Attention

If you suffer an injury to the neck or back, you should immediately seek treatment in a Level I trauma center or a hospital. It is important to seek medical treatment even if you feel fine after an accident.

Not all injuries are visible or detectable immediately. Internal bleeding, swelling, and other injuries can have catastrophic effects if not addressed right away.

Take Notes About the Accident

In addition to seeking medical treatment following a spinal cord injury, you should document all details pertinent to the situation that led to the injury. You should also record information for any possible witnesses. Save your clothing and footwear, and if applicable have friends and family take photos of your injuries.

Follow Your Doctor’s Orders

After a spinal cord injury, you should avoid doing anything contraindicated by your medical care professionals. Once your injury has stabilized, it is especially important to undergo the course of therapy recommended by your doctor. Rehabilitation can be key for restoring mobility and function.

Know Your Rights

Do not speak with any insurance company representative of the at-fault party or the at-fault party’s legal representative. You are under no obligation to communicate with these parties, and doing so may harm your case.

Insurance adjusters and lawyers for the at-fault party are looking for inconsistencies in your story that may absolve their client of liability. They will ask you to make statements, answer questions, and provide disclosures that are against your best interest.

A lawyer can handle these communications on your behalf. When you retain an attorney at Kogan & DiSalvo, you will have someone on your side to protect your rights and interests.

Hire a Lawyer

For your spinal cord injury claim to be successful, you need to be able to prove liability, that someone else is at fault, and the full extent of your damages. This is a time-consuming task that requires investigative skills, financial resources, and in-depth knowledge of Florida’s negligence laws.

A spinal cord injury is a life-altering experience that typically comes with many challenges. You should focus on healing, not gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses. An experienced attorney can build a strong case on your behalf while you and your family work to take back your lives.

Potential Damages in a Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit

Florida law allows for two types of damages to be recovered in spinal cord injury cases: economic and non-economic.

Rehabilitation for paralysis can be extremely expensive, encompassing a wide variety of treatments, therapies, and assistive technology. Common economic damages of spinal cord injuries include:

  • Medical expenses, including those for hospitalization, diagnostic tests such as MRIs and CT scans, surgical procedures, prescription medications, doctor appointments, rehabilitation, and physical therapy
  • In-home nursing care
  • Mobility equipment such as wheelchairs and braces
  • Costs incurred for home or vehicle modification
  • Loss of income
  • Loss of future earnings
  • Property damage

A jury or court determines the amount of damages to be awarded based on the evidence provided. As non-economic damages are difficult to monetize, it is important for you to keep a diary detailing how you are feeling in order to accurately capture and catalog your experience for the jury. Non-economic damages may include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Mental anguish including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and sleep disturbances
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of companionship

The spouse of the person who has suffered a spinal cord injury may be entitled to damages for loss of consortium. Loss of consortium damages include loss of companionship, emotional care and support, affection, sexual intimacy, and the injured spouse’s inability to assist in household chores and other duties.

Additionally, pursuant to Florida Statute 768.0415, a dependent child may be entitled to damages if the parent is permanently injured. The types of damages available are for the permanent loss of services, comfort, companionship, and society.

If the negligence that resulted in a spinal cord injury was an egregious act, the court may award punitive damages to further punish the defendant.

Since every spinal cord injury is different, there are a number of factors than can impact the value of your case. The following variables may help determine your final spinal cord injury settlement or verdict:

  • The amount of liability insurance carried by the at-fault party
  • The severity of your spinal cord injury
  • Your age at the time of injury
  • Prognosis and future medical expenses
  • Loss of quality of life

When a spinal cord injury proves fatal, the case is filed as a wrongful death claim. You and your family may be able to recover compensation for losses such as funeral and burial expenses, medical expenses prior to death, lost income and benefits, loss of consortium, and more.

Statute of Limitations: How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?

Florida law imposes a statute of limitations for taking legal action after a spinal cord injury.

  • In most accidents and personal injury claims, you have four years from the date of injury to file suit, although there are factors that can shorten this time.
  • If the spinal cord injury was attributed to medical malpractice, victims have two years from the date they discovered their injury
  • All wrongful death claims in Florida must be filed with two years of the accident date

If the statute of limitations expires, you will be barred from bringing a lawsuit for compensation.

Comparative Fault in Florida Spine Injury Cases

No matter how severe your losses may be, even if they are permanent, you and your attorney bear the burden of proving another party’s liability. However, the defending party may try to mitigate their fault in the accident by claiming that you are partially liable for your spine injury.

Under Florida Statute §768.81, courts must evaluate the actions of all parties and assign blame accordingly. As a result, if a plaintiff shares a certain percentage of fault for an accident, the court may reduce the award at trial by this percentage.

Comparative fault could play a significant role in spinal cord injury claims that result from accidents. Therefore, you have to prove that not only was a defendant responsible for the incident, but also that your own actions in no way contributed to your losses. Our lawyers can help you build your case and pursue full compensation for the spinal cord damage you have suffered.

How Can a Fort Lauderdale Spinal Injury and Paralysis Lawyer Help?

Your Fort Lauderdale spinal cord injury attorney handles every facet of the legal process, keeping you abreast of important milestones. Our legal team:

  • Conducts independent investigations
  • Gathers evidence to support your claim, including vehicle accident reports, surveillance footage, building code or worksite violations, and witness statements
  • Manages all communications with insurance adjusters
  • Enlists expert witnesses, including medical specialists, economists, life care planners, and accident reconstructionists
  • Ensures that past, present, and future losses are properly accounted for
  • Prepares a Demand Letter that accounts for actual damages sustained
  • Skillfully negotiates with defendants
  • Represents you before a jury, if necessary

When your financial and physical wellbeing are at stake, you need a dedicated attorney who has a proven track record of success resolving spinal cord cases similar to yours. Our law firm is laser-focused on your success, and treats each client with the highest levels of compassion and respect. We are honest, accessible, and have achieved outstanding results in a variety of catastrophic injury claims.

Spinal cord injury claims deserve professional representation. Our lawyers can review the circumstances of your accident, determine all at-fault parties, and support you through each phase of the legal process.

Choose Fort Lauderdale Paralysis Attorneys With a Long Track Record of Success

A spinal cord injury is a serious loss that can impact many facets of life. If you have suffered this type of bodily harm, it is important to evaluate your legal rights. Any party who is liable for an incident that results in spinal injuries can be held accountable for your financial, physical, and emotional hardships.

The Fort Lauderdale spinal cord injury lawyers at Kogan & DiSalvo can prepare a demand package designed to protect your rights while aiming to secure maximum compensation.

To get started on your case, schedule a free consultation by calling (561) 944-2382 today. Our attorneys serve clients in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Boynton Beach, Stuart, West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, and all of Florida.

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