Indiana Paralysis Injuries Lawyer
Paralysis from any type of accident often happens suddenly and, for this reason, it can be frightening and upsetting. Over time, the body may heal and ease the paralysis. But it is by no means guaranteed that an injured person will regain full function after a paralyzing injury. In the meantime, medical and rehabilitative bills pile up, and you or your injured family member may be unable to work.
When somebody else is responsible for your pain, seeking legal help can be the best decision you make. The Indianapolis paralyzing injury lawyers of Stephenson Rife have helped many accident victims recover compensation for injuries caused by the negligence of others.
How Does a Paralyzing Injury Happen?
Paralysis simply means that you’ve lost strength and control over a muscle or muscle group in part of your body. Much of the time, it has nothing to do with your muscles, but with your nerves. Somewhere along the line of nerve cells, from the spinal cord to the muscle or muscle group, injury has short-circuited the electrical signals that your nerves use to make your muscles function.
The most common cause of paralysis is stroke, with 33.7 percent of victims becoming paralyzed after having one. But the second most common cause of paralysis is a paralyzing injury suffered in a motor vehicle crash, after a traumatic fall or workplace-related accident, because of interpersonal violence, or in a sports-related mishap. More than one-fourth of all paralysis cases—27.3 percent—occur because of an accident or injury.
A major paralyzing injury usually means harm was done to the central nervous system, meaning to the spinal cord, the brain, or both. In 2017, it was estimated that approximately 17,500 spinal cord injuries occur every year in the U.S. Accidents that cause paralysis to large areas of the body are often catastrophic ones. Those who survive an accident with a paralyzing injury face significant expenses, especially in the first year following the injury.
What Types of Paralysis Can Occur?
Types of paralysis are often classified by the bodily location affected, the severity of the paralysis, and how long the paralysis lasts. Many paralyzing injuries are called incomplete, meaning that some nerve signals are still traveling along the spinal cord.
With an incomplete paralyzing injury, you may maintain some movement and some sensation all the time. With other incomplete paralyzing injuries, movement and sensation may be unpredictable, sometimes present and sometimes not. Incomplete spinal cord injuries are more common than they used to be due to improvements in medical care and technology. An incomplete tetraplegia (quadriplegia) is the most common form of paralysis, appearing in 40.8 percent of spinal cord injury cases.
When you suffer from a complete paralyzing spinal cord injury, the nerves are compressed or cut, meaning that no nerve signals can travel at all. You have no sensation or movement in the area controlled by the damaged nerve or nerve bundle. Complete SCIs occur in less than 30 percent of paralysis cases.
Paralysis can also be localized or generalized. Localized paralysis is most likely to affect hands, feet, the face, and the vocal cords. Sometimes an accident or motor vehicle crash injures your chest, neck, or head in such a way that your vocal cords become paralyzed without affecting the spine or brain. Vocal cord paralysis after an accident is not always permanent.
Generalized paralysis affects a larger area of the body and is classified according to which segment of the body is stricken:
- Monoplegia: Affects only one limb (arm or leg)
- Hemiplegia: Affects an entire side of the body (the arm and leg on one side)
- Paraplegia: Usually affects both legs and, occasionally, parts of the torso
- Quadriplegia (tetraplegia): Affects most of the body from the neck down. Sometimes, the functionality of vital organs like the heart or lungs are impacted.
Symptoms of a Paralyzing Injury
When you are suffering from a paralyzing injury, symptoms can vary. The obvious one is the inability to use part of your body, but other related symptoms are possible:
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty sitting upright, depending on the nerve damage
- Sexual dysfunction
When you suffer from paralysis, the enforced inactivity can create complications such as:
- Pneumonia from breathing difficulties
- Urinary tract infections
- Chronic pain
Emotional problems, especially for those who have a major paralysis injury, include:
- Disliking the increased dependence on others
- Feeling socially isolated
- Feeling an absence of emotional support or empathy
If you think you might have paralyzed vocal cords, symptoms include:
- Hoarseness or a “breathy” voice
- A lack of vocal volume and pitch
- Difficulties swallowing
- Feeling as if you must constantly clear your throat
An ear, nose, and throat medical specialist (ENT) is best equipped to examine you for vocal cord paralysis.
Diagnosis and Treatment of a Paralyzing Injury
When a lack of muscle function is apparent, tracking down the underlying reason is paramount. Doctors frequently use MRI scans, CT scans, X-rays, and other types of medical imaging to determine what might be wrong.
Additional diagnostic medical procedures that are often employed include myelography, which looks for nerve damage. Medical dye is injected into the spinal cord nervous system to help specialists see exactly what’s happening with the nerves. Another possible procedure is electromyography, which measures the electrical activity traveling from the nerves to your muscles.
Treatments always depend on the reason for the paralysis and the specific symptoms. Some of the many possible remedies include:
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Medication, including muscle relaxers or Botox, to ease the tension in spastic muscles
- An assortment of mobility aids, from wheelchairs to scooters to braces, for either temporary or permanent use
While there may not be a cure, symptoms can often be managed.
Paralyzing Injuries Are Expensive
Paralysis is costly, both financially and in terms of suffering. The first year of care and rehabilitation can exceed a million dollars. Quadriplegia expenses for a “high on the spine” (C1 through C3) spinal cord injury average $1.79 million for the first year. Succeeding years average approximately $188,000. The first year’s cost for a paraplegia victim is slightly over half a million dollars. Incomplete function resulting from paralysis averages $347,000 in expenses.
Some of the many costly treatments associated with a paralyzing injury such as paraplegia and quadriplegia include:
- Intensive care immediately following the traumatic accident
- Spinal surgery and surgical aftercare
- Physical, speech, and occupational therapies
- Mental health therapy
- Long-term care expenses, such as assistance from in-home aides
- Medical equipment
- Many types of medications, including painkillers and antibiotics.
Additionally, should you be required to go some distance for medical care and rehabilitation, travel expenses for food, lodging, parking, tolls, tips, and other incidentals can quickly mount.
What Types of Damages Can I Seek?
If you believe your paralyzing injury was due to another’s negligence, you can pursue financial compensation, which is known as “damages.” Any paralysis injury caused by another person should be investigated by a caring and experienced personal injury lawyer. Some of the damages you can seek when you bring a case are:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation and therapy expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost future earnings
- Occupational/vocational retraining costs
- Vehicle and home modification costs
- Property damages
- Pain and suffering compensation
If someone else’s negligence means that you or a loved one is left with hundreds of thousands of dollars in bills, it only makes sense that the person at fault should bear the burden of such costs.
When others breach their duty, we keep ours.
At Stephenson Rife, we’re looking out for you. Our investigative team will go to work immediately to uncover the ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘when,’ ‘where,’ ‘why’ and ‘how’ of your case. We are committed to bringing together the most qualified experts available in order to discover what happened in your Indiana personal injury case. We can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
Both Mike Stephenson, with his more than three decades of experience, and Brady Rife, with his diverse experience in personal injury litigation, strive always to meet the highest standards of client care. We offer free consultations and would like to discuss how we can be of service to you. Please keep in mind that there is a time limit for filing your case in Indiana, so it is wise not to delay. Call us today, or use our confidential online contact form.