The spinal cord extends from the brain stem to the lower back. The brain receives signals from the spinal cord to perceive pain, temperature, and pressure. Your motor function relies on the spine, and your body uses it to stay upright and control reflexes.
Damage to the spinal cord can become detrimental to a person’s physical and mental well-being. In several cases, the injury happened because of another party’s recklessness. If someone else is negligent, Shiner Law Group could help you seek reimbursement, speak with a Port St Lucie spinal cord injury lawyer today to discuss your case.
We have completed hundreds of successful claims. For example, we helped a client with collision-related paralysis receive $1 million. And while every case is different, we will stand by your side every step of the way.
Table of Contents
2. How Spinal Cord Injuries Occur in Port St. Lucie
3. The Long-Term Effects of Spinal Cord Injuries
4. Statute of Limitations in Port St. Lucie
5. Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit Timeline
6. Can You File a Lawsuit Without a Lawyer?
7. How A Port St Lucie Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Can Help
The Anatomy of the Spinal Cord
Within the spinal column is the spinal cord, and it rests underneath three layers of protective tissue. The outer layer, or meninges, is a tough coating called the dura mater. The arachnoid mater is in the middle, and the pia mater is the innermost layer of tissue.
The spinal cord consists of three sections, and the sections are the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions. People also refer to them as the neck, chest, and lower back areas of the body. However, the spinal cord does not run down the entire length of the spine.
Along the spinal cord are 31 pairs of spinal nerves. Most of them are in the thoracic region. The nerves are in charge of movement and sensations in the body.
How Spinal Cord Injuries Occur in Port St. Lucie
Most cases of spinal cord injuries stem from vehicle accidents. The Shepherd Center reports how 39.3 percent of spinal trauma comes from car collisions. According to the FLHSMV, Florida sees an estimated 341,299 car accidents a year. About 212,519 of them result in injuries. Intersections around Port St. Lucie have higher rates of collisions since many people visit to experience the beaches.
The force of the impact can affect any area of the spinal cord. The position of the seat, the passenger’s height, and whether the victim had an underlying condition can influence the severity of the injury. A T-bone or sideswipe accident can lead to a damaged spinal cord.
In a single-car collision, passengers should manage the well-being of their spines. A person can suffer serious injuries if they hit a pole or brick mailbox. A pedestrian has little protection and can experience significant damage to the spinal cord.
A car accident can happen for many different reasons. Sometimes, people get distracted while they drive. An icy road or low visibility can increase the risk of a collision if people don’t drive appropriately for conditions.
The next leading cause of a spinal cord injury is a fall. Falls make up around 31.8 percent of reported cases. A person might trip down the stairs or off a ladder. Risky activities can increase the chance of someone falling from a significant height.
A study revealed how many high falls occur in the workplace. Most people tend to be between the ages of 16 and 45. Some workers may fall from a building. Employees can slip on a wet or greasy floor and hurt their spines as well.
Sometimes, a property manager does not implement safety measures or keep up with repairs. Port St. Lucie is likely to see cases of stumbling due to the high volume of people in the city. An older person is more likely to experience a fall on the same level. Slips and falls make up a small portion of nursing home abuse cases.
Injuries to the spinal cord are serious, and a person can experience paralysis after a stumble. A victim can struggle with bills on top of recovery. If the accident happened due to negligence, you may be able to obtain reimbursement.
Another cause of spinal cord-related injuries is violence. An estimated 13.5 percent of spinal cord injuries come from assault and battery cases. A perpetrator may deliver blows to the back with enough force to hurt the spine severely. The attacker may kick or use a blunt object.
Stab wounds may lead to a spinal cord injury. Sometimes, a shove causes the victim to land on and damage their back. Plenty of spinal cord injuries stem from gunshot wounds.
Guns use a considerable amount of speed and force to launch bullets. The bullet can pass through the spinal canal. The chances notably increase if the entry wound was close to the spine.
Of course, you can hold the attacker responsible for the injury. Victims can seek compensation from them to cover any losses. However, most criminals don’t have the insurance or assets to cover the millions of dollars in losses a spinal cord injury can produce.
Other parties could hold some responsibility, however. For example, you might hold the owner or manager of a mall or restaurant liable if the attack took place there. Property owners should know if the area sees a high level of crime. They have to take adequate security measures to ensure the safety of visitors.
Only 8 percent of spinal cord injuries come from sports-related activities. People usually think about football when it comes to serious wounds. People sometimes tackle one another and engage in other types of physical contact. However, multiple sports can increase the chance of damage to the spine.
A participant could suffer from an injury to the cervical region in ice hockey, skiing, or diving. Wrestling is another sport where people constantly come into physical contact. Some of the advanced moves pose the risk of a damaged spinal cord.
Even people in cheerleading events can experience paralysis. They may perform a complex gymnastic move wrong, and the speed and force can hurt the spine. A cheerleader can fall from a height when they get lifted by squadmates.
Dozens of players had gotten spinal cord injuries when they played rugby. Some sports use special equipment and gear to ensure the safety of players. However, accidents can still happen.
After a heavy impact to the neck or back, a person should get a medical evaluation to determine the spine’s condition. An injury to the spinal cord comes with several warning signs. The injured person should seek emergency care if any of the symptoms manifest after an accident.
Symptoms to watch for include:
- Extreme back pain
- Pressure in the head or neck
- Loss of movement
- Issues breathing
- Loss of bladder control
- Numbness or tingling in the limbs
A person should assume they have a spinal injury until a healthcare provider proves otherwise. You should start treatment as soon as possible to lessen the chance of a worsened condition later on.
The Types of Paralysis
Areas below the injury site suffer the effects of a spinal cord injury. The severity of impact and location determine how much you can control your limbs after an accident. Doctors refer to the seriousness of the spinal cord injury as either complete or incomplete.
A complete injury is if someone loses all ability to feel and move the body below the damaged area. Incomplete refers to people who still have some feeling and control below the impacted part of the spine.
A doctor may use both X-rays and CT scans to determine the level of completeness. Additionally, the paralysis a person experiences may come in one of two forms.
One type of paralysis is tetraplegia, but some people call it quadriplegia. Patients with tetraplegia lose senses in the arms, hands, trunk, pelvic region, legs, and feet. On the other hand, a person might deal with paraplegia. Paraplegia is when the spinal cord injury affects all or part of the trunk, pelvic region, and legs.
The Long-Term Effects of Spinal Cord Injuries
Currently, people cannot reverse damage to the spinal cord. However, you can use a variety of treatments and medications to improve motor function. Other recovery options try to promote cell regeneration. Recovery can go smoothly if a person gets the care they need soon after an accident.
Some patients go on to return to work and resume driving. Even with rehabilitation and ongoing care, spinal cord injuries can still present long-term consequences. Several people experience chronic respiratory problems. They are more likely to develop pneumonia.
Neuropathic pain can occur above or below the injury site. The presence of neuropathic pain means you can feel pain from any level of the nervous system due to the damaged nerves.
People can face lifelong cardiovascular issues. They might suffer from bladder dysfunction, and the complications can increase the chances of getting an infection or other problems. Spinal cord injuries can hinder certain social activities. Some people experience a lower quality of life.
Statute of Limitations in Port St. Lucie
Many cases of spinal cord injuries fall under the broad category of personal injury. Whether you experienced a fall or car accident, you could receive compensation. However, you will need to act quickly to avoid the loss of reimbursement.
Like many states, Florida has a statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits. If you want to file a claim, you need to do so no later than four years from the day of the accident. However, Florida may have different laws depending on the circumstances of the accident.
The deadline for work-related spinal cord injury is two years after the incident. Since recovery takes up a lot of time and attention, you should seek the help of an attorney. A spinal cord injury lawyer can handle the paperwork and other legal proceedings to reduce your stress.
Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit Timeline
The average amount of time a spinal cord injury lawsuit takes is about a year. Some are quicker to complete, and others last longer than a year. When you hire a lawyer, they will spend time collecting police reports and medical records. The attorney investigates the accident to determine fair compensation.
Sometimes, both parties agree on the settlement. If not, you and your lawyer would proceed to file a lawsuit. The pre-trial phase can take a while to finish. Both parties use the time to send relevant information to each other and start depositions.
Most cases end before the lawsuit ever reaches the trial phase. You are more likely to get a favorable outcome if both sides negotiate a settlement during mediation. After a successful negotiation, the attorney drafts a formal settlement agreement.
The agreement describes the details of the compensation. The document also releases the defendant from liability in connection with the accident in the future. Trials do not happen frequently, but one or both parties might not feel satisfied with the offer.
Trials extend the lawsuit timeline since they rely on the judge’s schedule. One might get pushed back once or twice. When the trial starts, it could last a day or a week. Many people prefer to settle before they have to go to trial.
Can You File a Lawsuit Without a Lawyer?
If you or a loved one suffered from a spinal cord injury, you might want to start a claim. You may wonder if you can pursue a case without an attorney. Don’t.
Even people with minor injuries caused by obvious negligence can find trouble handling claims by themselves. However, spinal cord injuries are severe. In many cases, the party at fault for the accident is not always clear.
The legal system is complex, and even without a lawyer, you still would have to adhere to the same procedures. An error could cause the court to throw out your case. You could vastly underestimate the money you need to pay for your damages. Many factors contribute to the total number, and non-economic damages are difficult for lawyers to calculate.
A lawyer knows what documents to file and when. Your attorney can estimate how much you should receive in compensation. They can prevent the insurance company from cheating you out of what you deserve.
How A Port St Lucie Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Can Help
Shiner Law Group can provide you with the answers you need. If you don’t know if you have a valid claim, we offer a free consultation to discuss your claim. Our firm has handled spinal cord injury claims in the past, and we know how to pursue the settlement you deserve.
We have offices in multiple Florida cities, including Port St. Lucie. Contact us at Shiner Law Group at (772) 777-7700 today to get started on your claim.