Houston Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer

Few injuries are as traumatic and life-altering as spinal cord injuries (SCIs). Approximately 296,000 Americans live with spinal cord injuries, with 17,900 new cases yearly. Spinal cord injuries impair mobility and sensation.

Ongoing medical advances have paved the way for spinal cord injury survivors to live fulfilling lives. Unfortunately, access to the most innovative medical treatment options can be cost-prohibitive. 

At Lanier Law Firm, we believe spinal cord injury victims injured because of someone else’s negligence deserve access to the most advanced medical care. We are dedicated to pursuing the amount of compensation necessary for our clients to access the best treatment options science can offer.

What is a spinal cord injury?

Acute spinal cord injury occurs when a traumatic back injury causes a bruise or tear in the spinal cord. The two types of spinal cord injuries are complete and incomplete. Complete spinal cord injuries cause permanent and total loss of movement below the point of injury.  

Incomplete spinal cord injuries allow patients to retain some function below the point of injury. Recovery is sometimes possible.

Levels of Spinal Cord Injury

The spinal cord consists of four sections: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral.  

  1. The cervical spine. This includes the top of the spinal cord in the neck. Cervical spine injuries are the most serious, impacting the entire body below the neck.
  2. The thoracic spine. Thoracic spinal cord injuries impact the upper chest, abdominal area, and mid-back muscles.  
  3. The lumbar spine. This is the lower back portion of the spine. Lumbar spinal cord injuries affect the hips and legs. 
  4. The sacral spine. The sacrum is the lowest part of the spine. Sacral spinal cord injuries impact the hips, thighs, and pelvic organs. 

Effects of Spinal Cord Injuries

The effects of spinal cord damage vary based on the location and completeness of the injury.

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Paralysis

Paralysis is the loss of motor function. Tetraplegia, also known as quadriplegia, impacts the arms, legs, trunk, and pelvic organs. Paraplegia impacts the legs, trunk, and pelvic region.

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Loss of Sensation

Loss of sensation results in the inability to experience heat, cold, or pain. This creates risks of subsequent injuries or illnesses.

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Loss of Bowel or Bladder Control

Spinal cord injury necessitates bowel management and catheterization programs. This is a significant quality of life issue. In one study, 80% of spinal cord injury survivors ranked regaining bladder control above their wish to walk again.

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Changes in Sexual Function

Loss of sensation and motor skills impact sexual function. Studies show men and women are able to regain sexual functioning, even with complete injuries.

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Chronic Pain

Most SCI sufferers experience chronic pain. Pain can be caused by nerve damage, musculoskeletal issues, and organ issues.

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Respiratory Difficulties

Cervical spine injuries impact muscles that control breathing and sometimes create the need for ventilator assistance. Generally speaking, the lower the injury, the less it impacts breathing.

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Spasticity

Spasticity occurs when muscles tighten or contract involuntarily, leading to uncontrolled movements, stiffness, and spasms. Spasticity impacts 65-78% of the SCI population.

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Health Complications

Long-term complications from spinal cord injuries include the following:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Pressure injuries (bedsores)
  • Circulation problems such as blood pressure issues and blood clots
  • Pneumonia
  • Osteoporosis
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Depression

Treatment for Acute Spinal Cord Injury

Immediate treatment includes measures to prevent further damage, spinal realignment, and surgical removal of bone fragments and objects pressing the spinal column.

Rehabilitation for Spinal Cord Injuries

Rehabilitation may include the following:

  • Breathing assistance
  • Learning new ways to manage bladder and bowels
  • Skill-building activities
  • Physical therapy
  • Counseling

Is there hope of a cure?

There is no cure for spinal cord injury, but medical research is uncovering exciting possibilities.

Neural Prosthesis

A neural prosthesis is an artificial body part that replaces nerve function. An electrical device is connected to functioning nerves. The patient uses those nerves to control the prosthesis, which moves the immobile parts of the body. 

Thoughts to Movements 

The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis and the Miller School of Medicine observed promising results with a machine that uses patients’ thoughts to control their limbs.

Stem Cell Research

Stem cell research offers the possibility of regenerating spinal cord nerves, essentially reversing the injury, rather than just adapting to it. 

Dancing Molecules

Spine-injured animals at Northwestern University regained their ability to walk after a single injection of nanofibers with bioactive signals that communicate with cells to repair the spinal cord.

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What are the most common causes of acute spinal cord injury?

The most common causes of spinal cord injuries are discussed below.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents, especially involving rollovers and collisions, are the most common cause. Individuals in motorcycle accidents or passenger vehicles hit by commercial trucks are also vulnerable.  

Slip and Fall Accidents

Spinal cord injuries from falls are common in the workplace, especially on construction sites. Falls are the leading cause of spinal injuries in older adults

Violence

Violence, primarily from gunshot or stab wounds, frequently causes spinal cord injuries.  

Sports/Recreation

Recreational activities, such as diving, trampoline jumping, and team sports, lead to spinal cord injuries when safety protocols are not observed.

What damages can I recover in my Houston spinal cord injury claim?

Spinal cord injuries are catastrophic injuries that can require substantial compensation. Under Texas proportionate responsibility law, you can recover damages if you are not more than 50% at fault. Compensation will be reduced proportionately if you are partly at fault in the incident.

Auto Accident

Compensation in car accidents usually comes from the other driver’s insurance company. In a commercial truck accident, the trucking company is liable. 

Workplace 

Compensation for workplace injuries is limited if your employer carries workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation shields your employer from liability unless you prove gross negligence. Workers’ compensation covers medical bills, a portion of your wages for as long as you remain disabled, and lifetime benefits for permanent disability. Proof of employer negligence is not required.

An experienced personal injury lawyer can identify gross negligence if it exists as well as additional liable parties, such as premises owners and defective product manufacturers.

If your employer does not carry workers’ compensation, you can file a personal injury lawsuit. You will have to prove negligence. Compensation from a lawsuit can be substantial.

Victims of Violence

The Crime Victims’ Compensation Program offers lost wages and medical cost compensation to crime victims. You can access this through Victim Services at the Houston Police Department by calling (713) 308-0080. 

Compensation in Texas 

Texas law provides three types of compensation:

  • Economic damages – Monetary losses, including lost wages, medical expenses, and assistive devices
  • Non-economic damages – Non-monetary losses such as pain and suffering
  • Exemplary damages – Punitive damages awarded in cases of malice, fraud, or gross negligence 

The only damages Texas law limits are exemplary damages, which are capped at the greater of $200,000 or the total of your non-economic damages plus double your economic damages.

How long do I have to file a personal injury claim for my spinal cord injuries in Houston?

The Texas statute of limitations for spinal cord injury cases is two years. It is imperative that you contact a personal injury attorney as early as possible. This allows your attorney to gather facts while the information is still fresh and gives sufficient time to build your case.

How can a Houston spinal cord injury attorney help me with my lawsuit?

Texas personal injury law is complex. Besides filing requirements and deadlines, you will face powerful insurance companies and legal representatives who are highly paid to minimize your compensation. You will need resources like forensic experts and legal advice. You will need an understanding of medical jargon and knowledge about the true costs of your injuries, both present and future.

The experienced legal team at The Lanier Law Firm has access to all the resources needed to maximize your compensation. We have a proven track record of successfully advocating for our clients against large companies and winning historic verdicts and settlements.

Our dedication comes from the fact that we care about the people in the community where we live and work. We demonstrate this not only by providing aggressive representation to our clients but also by giving back to the community, providing volunteer hours and financial support to several worthy organizations, including:

  • SIRE – a therapeutic equestrian center near Spring for children and adults with a wide range of disability
  • Barc pet adoption in Houston
  • Houston Food Bank

If you or your loved one is a victim of a life-changing spinal cord injury, Lanier Law Firm offers free consultations, and we only collect fees if and when we win you compensation. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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