Spinal Cord Injuries
A spinal cord injury results when there is damage to the spinal cord that results in partial or full loss of motor control and sensation. The spinal cord is comprised of a bundle of nerves located in the spinal column (also known as the “backbone”), and is responsible for sending messages between the body and brain.
Because of its critical function in the human body, even partial damage to the spinal cord can be devastating, resulting severe impairment of basic abilities, and may include paralysis or death.
According to a report by the Well Florida Council, there were more than 800 new spinal cord injuries in Florida in 2015. Based on population projections, that figure is expected to increase nearly 20 percent in the next 15 years. Nationally, the rate is 40 cases per 1 million, with 12,500 new spinal cord injuries reported annually. That means between 240,000 and 340,000 people are currently living with spinal cord injuries in the U.S.
At The Law Offices of Richard Ansara, our Fort Lauderdale spinal cord injury attorneys recognize that legal action is often the last thought on someone’s mind after such an enormous blow. There is a huge amount of physical and emotional strain that results from such an injury. In cases where spinal cord injuries result in death, the loss of a loved one can in itself be crippling. But we also recognize that costs associated with such a catastrophic injury are colossal. Our goal is to help individuals and families rebuild their lives by securing compensation for:
- Medical expenses, including surgeries, ongoing therapies, in-home care/ assisted living, medication and counseling;
- Wages lost due to inability to work during recovery period;
- Future lost income, resulting from the inability to return to the same capacity of work;
- Physical pain and suffering;
- Emotional/ mental anguish;
- Loss of life enjoyment;
- Loss of consortium or companionship (suffered by spouse, children or parents).
Improving your chances of winning this kind of compensation, whether through settlement or via trial, means consulting with an experienced spinal cord injury lawyer in the Fort Lauderdale area as soon as possible.Spinal Cord Injuries in Florida
While spinal cord injuries in Florida are nothing new, they are an increasing issue here. The National Spinal Cord Injury Center reports there were 802 spinal cord injuries in the Sunshine State in 2015. By 2030, we can expect about 960 new spinal cord injuries in this state each year.
These injuries are mostly the result of:
- Motor vehicle accidents (37 percent)
- Violence (28 percent)
- Falls (21 percent)
- Sport Injuries (6 percent)
- Other (8 percent)
Here in Florida, boating accidents are also a significant cause of spinal injuries.
More than half of all spinal cord injuries involve people over the age of 45, with about 28 percent involving those 45 to 64. About two-thirds of all spinal cord injury victims are male.
The Well Florida Council surveyed spinal cord injury victims in the state and discovered the leading health issues identified by patients included:
- Urinary tract infections
- Pressure sores
- Chronic pain
- Muscle spasms
- Autonomic dysreflexia (sudden onset of excessively high blood pressure)
- Bowel and bladder issues
In general, most spinal cord injury lawsuits will be based on the legal theory of negligence. That means your Fort Lauderdale spinal cord injury lawyer will have the burden to show the injury was the result of someone else’s failure to use reasonable care when they were legally obligated to do so.
For example, if you are a motorcyclist who suffers a spinal cord injury in a crash with another vehicle, we would need to show the other driver was at-fault for the crash that caused those injuries. Similarly, if the injury occurs as a result of a fall on someone else’s property, we would need to show the property owner was aware of the dangerous condition, failed to address it or warn guests and the hazard wasn’t obvious to you. There are also some cases in which manufacturers may be liable for spinal cord injuries. For example, a defective ladder may cause it to collapse resulting in injury or a defective seat belt may increase the severity of injuries in a crash.
Some key defenses raised in these cases include:
- No duty of care. This is when defendant alleges he or she had no obligation to use reasonable care toward plaintiff. An example might be a property owner who owes very minimal duty of care to a trespasser.
- Insufficient evidence. This would be a situation where defendant asserts the details are too scant or speculative to make an inference as to the causation of the accident or injuries.
- Contributory or comparative negligence. This would be where defendant argues the plaintiff caused or contributed to his or her own injuries. An example would be a swimmer who dives into a shallow pool after consuming several drinks. It’s worth noting that Florida, unlike some other states, does not prohibit a plaintiff from collecting damages when he or she shares some of the blame, though that evidence could result in a reduction of overall damage award.
- Assumption of risk. If the injury happens in the course of a dangerous activity, such as skydiving or bungee jumping, defendant may argue that because plaintiff chose to take part in an inherently dangerous activity, he or she assumed the risk of that danger.
Because these cases are vigorously defended, plaintiffs must be prepared. The first step is meeting with a trusted and proven spinal cord injury attorney in Fort Lauderdale who can help offer a detailed analysis of your case and an effective legal strategy moving forward.