If you or someone you love has been in an accident in Oklahoma that injured the spinal cord, you know how difficult this type of injury can be on you and your loved ones. Even a minor spinal cord injury can have dramatic, long-lasting effects. You may lose the ability to work, to provide for your family, and to participate in the activities you enjoy. Some victims may lose the ability to walk or care for themselves.
If your spinal cord injury happened in an accident caused by another party’s negligence, you may be able to seek compensation. The Oklahoma City personal injury lawyers of Abel Law Firm specialize in assisting victims of debilitating injuries like yours in filing personal injury claims for damages.
Don’t let a single accident determine the course of your life. Call Abel Law Firm today at (405) 239-7046 for a confidential consultation, and we’ll tell you how we can help you get on the road to recovery.
Why Hire Abel Law Firm for My Spinal Cord Injury Claim?
Abel Law Firm is a family firm, and we believe in treating our clients like family. We will take the time to listen to you and your needs and help you build an ironclad case for your personal injury claim grounded in evidence and backed by over 130 years of combined legal experience.
We’ve been helping our clients get compensation for their spinal cord injuries in Oklahoma for almost fifty years. We know the ins and outs of dealing with insurance companies that are determined to deny your personal injury claim, and we will fight to get you justice for your injury. We’ll be with you, from filing the initial insurance claim all the way to a jury trial, if necessary. When you hire the attorneys at Abel Law Firm for personal injury representation, you know you’re going with the best in the business.
What Is a Spinal Cord Injury?
The spinal cord is a bundle of nerve tissue running down the center of your spine. It is the main trunk of your nervous system and provides a pathway for instructions from your brain to reach your muscles and sensory organs. It is encased by the vertebrae, a line of bones that make up your spine.
A spinal cord injury is any injury that causes a loss of function of the spinal cord, loss of mobility, or a loss of feeling somewhere in the body. There are many causes of spinal cord injuries, both internal and external. There is no known method for repairing damaged nerves, so most spinal cord injuries are considered permanent.
Most spinal cord injuries occur due to swelling in the spinal cord after external trauma. Once the swelling subsides after days or weeks, some feeling and mobility may return to the affected areas, but it’s impossible to tell what the severity of the injury will be at the time of the impact.
Some causes of spinal cord injuries include the following:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Sports injuries
- Blunt trauma
Spinal cord injuries can be split up into two different categories. A Complete spinal cord injury refers to an injury in which the victim loses all feeling and function below the location of the injury. An Incomplete spinal cord injury refers to an injury where the victim retains some feeling or mobility below the location of the injury, such as the ability to move a particular limb or retaining feeling in a limb that can no longer be moved.
Spinal cord injuries are classified by their location on the spine. The spine has four separate types of vertebrae: Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar, and Sacral. The cervical vertebrae run from the base of the skull to the top of the chest, the thoracic run from the chest to the bottom of the ribs, the lumbar run from the ribs to the pelvis, and the sacral run from below the pelvis to the termination of the spine at the tailbone.
Generally, the higher the location of the injury on the spine, the more severe the loss of mobility and/or feeling. For example, a severe spinal cord injury on the cervical vertebrae will often cause quadriplegia, or paralysis of all four limbs, while a spinal cord injury in the lumbar vertebrae might cause paraplegia, or paralysis of the lower limbs.
What Are the Effects of a Spinal Cord Injury?
The overall effects of the injury depend on the location and severity of the impact causing it. The spinal cord does not need to be severed for a complete loss of mobility or feeling to result from the injury. In fact, most spinal cord injuries resulting in loss of mobility or feeling on the body do not involve severing the spinal cord.
The effects of this type of injury can range from a minor loss of feeling or muscle control, such as with an injury to the sacral vertebrae, all the way to complete paralysis. Victims of a spinal cord injury on the first three cervical vertebrae just below the skull may also lose control of involuntary functions like breathing, necessitating the use of a respirator for them to stay alive.
Other effects include the following:
- Loss of mobility
- Loss of feeling
- Bowel dysfunction
- Bladder dysfunction
- Inability to regulate body temperature
- Low blood pressure
- Atrophied muscles
- Chronic pain
What Damages Can I Get for My Spinal Cord Injury in Oklahoma?
The goal of filing a personal injury claim is to obtain compensation through a cash settlement from an insurance company or monetary damages awarded in a lawsuit. This compensation is designed to cover losses you suffered due to your spinal cord injury, both monetary and otherwise. The compensation you can receive varies depending on the severity of your injury and the circumstances surrounding the accident that caused the injury.
For example, with a severe spinal cord injury resulting from a car accident involving a driver driving while drunk, you’re likely to receive more compensatory damages than a back strain resulting from a slip and fall on a wet floor while on the job.
You may be able to obtain compensation for the following losses:
- Medical Bills: For severe spinal cord injuries like paralysis, bills for medical care can be extreme. Your compensation could include amounts to cover your medical bills, surgery and associated expenses, medication, therapy, emergency transport, or rehabilitation.
- Lost Wages: If you have a debilitating spinal cord injury and cannot work, you or your family’s livelihood may be threatened. You may be able to recover money to compensate for the tie you lost from work, as well as for any period when you could only work part-time while recuperating. You may also be eligible for compensation for lost future earnings if you cannot return to your former line of work.
- Pain and Suffering: The stress, anxiety, and depression of dealing with a debilitating injury affect everyone around them. These hard-to-quantify losses are covered under pain and suffering.
- Extended Medical Care: With more severe injuries, the bills for home medical care like home bath aids or physical therapy may continue for the rest of the victim’s life. Compensation for extended medical care can provide relief for these costs.
If you or a loved one suffered a spinal cord injury in Oklahoma due to egregious negligence by the party at fault for your accident, you may also be able to obtain punitive damages.
Unlike compensation, punitive damages are designed specifically to punish the responsible party and deter them from committing the offense again. A jury awards punitive damages at trial.
Punitive damages are awarded less frequently than compensatory damages. To be eligible for such an award, you must prove that the at-fault party acted with gross misconduct, negligence, or with intentional malice.
What Is the Personal Injury Claims Process for Spinal Cord Injuries?
The process of seeking compensation for an accident that causes a spinal cord injury starts with finding and retaining legal counsel. An experienced lawyer, like the attorneys of Abel Law Firm, can assist with the process from start to finish and make sure that your claim is valid, complete, and supported by factual evidence.
The claims process usually goes something like this:
- Investigation: Your attorney will investigate the accident that caused your injury to determine who was at fault. They will start building a case to request compensatory or punitive damages. This usually begins with asking you some questions about the accident. Often, spinal cord injuries are caused by car crashes.
In that case, the questions might include the following:
- How fast were you driving?
- What were the road conditions?
- Were there eyewitnesses?
- Did the other driver apologize or claim responsibility at the scene?
- Gathering evidence: Your attorney will then begin gathering evidence related to the accident that corroborates your account of what happened. This can include medical records, police reports, eyewitness statements, photo documentation, surveillance camera footage, or expert witness statements.
- Filing the claim: Once your attorney has all the necessary information to support your claim, they will file it with the insurance company. Then your lawyer will make a settlement demand to the insurance company to request compensation adequate to cover your losses. If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, your attorney will advise the insurance company that they’re happy to go to court to prove your case.
- Response to your claim: The insurance company will investigate the accident and determine whether your claim for damages is valid. Based on their investigation and the information you and your attorney provided, they will make a decision to approve your claim, offer a settlement, or deny your claim. You’ll be paid if they approve it and make a reasonable settlement offer. If they deny your claim, you can go forward with a lawsuit against the insurance company and seek compensatory or punitive damages in a trial.
The insurance company will generally offer you a low amount of money in hopes you’ll accept their offer so they can close their file. Don’t accept any settlement offer until you’ve spoken with an attorney. The lawyers of Abel Law Firm are prepared to stand up for your rights and won’t let the insurance company take advantage of you.
Facts and Statistics on Spinal Cord Injuries
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center at the University of Alabama, since 2015, there have been almost 18,000 new spinal cord injuries per year. Approximately 296,000 people in the United States live with some form of spinal cord injury.
The largest age group for spinal cord injuries is aged 16 to 30, accounting for nearly half of all injuries, likely due to the larger number of high-risk activities young people undertake that older people do not.
Men are far more likely to suffer a spinal cord injury than women. Since 2015, men have accounted for 78% of all spinal cord injuries.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of spinal cord injury in America, accounting for 38.2%, slips and falls at 32.3%, and violent trauma at 14.3%. Sports injuries account for 7.8%, and medical or surgical injuries account for 4.1%.
The vast majority of people with spinal cord injuries are non-Hispanic white. This group accounts for 58.1% of total injuries since 2015.
The costs associated with a spinal cord injury can be extreme. The report linked above notes that if a person age 50 were to receive a severe spinal cord injury that caused quadriplegia, the lifetime costs for medical treatment would be over $2.8 million. If a person age 25 were to receive the same injury, their lifetime medical costs would be more than $5 million.
Call Abel Law Firm Today for Free Consultation
Abel Law Firm is ready to put our experience to work for you. Let us fight the insurance adjusters and negotiate the personal injury claims process so you can get back to what’s important to you and your family. Call us today at (405) 239-7046 for a free, confidential consultation, and let our family take care of you.