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New York Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer

Legally Reviewed By: Jud Waltman

Every year, approximately 1,100 New Yorkers experience traumatic spinal cord injuries (SCIs). Few injuries match the life-altering devastation these catastrophic injuries bring. In addition to a long hospital stay and extensive rehabilitation, many spinal cord injury victims live with permanent paralysis.

At The Lanier Law Firm, we have dedicated ourselves to fighting for justice for those who are wrongfully injured because of negligence. While compensation cannot reverse what happened to you or your loved one, it can provide you with better treatment options and improve your quality of life.

What is an acute spinal cord injury?

The spinal cord carries messages from the brain to the rest of the body. It is protected by a column of bones called vertebrae. An acute spinal cord injury occurs when the spinal cord is damaged by a sudden, traumatic blow.

Spinal cord injuries are classified as complete or incomplete.

  • Complete spinal cord injuries are lesions that cut all the way across the spinal cord, disrupting all connections between the brain and areas below the injury.
  • Incomplete spinal cord injuries are lesions that partially damage the spinal cord, allowing for some communication between the brain and areas below the injury.

What are the most common causes of spinal cord injury?

Spinal cord injuries most commonly occur as the result of car accidents, falls, gun violence, and sports accidents. They are most prevalent in young adult males.

automobile accidents

Automobile Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injury and many other back injuries. New York City residents experienced 2,504 motor vehicle accidents resulting in injury or death in February 2022 alone. Distracted driving was the top contributing factor, followed by failure to yield and following too closely.

slips, trips, and falls

Slips, Trips, and Falls

Falls are the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths. Many fall injuries result in permanent disability, including traumatic spinal cord injuries. Falls are almost always preventable.

Older Adults

Falls are the leading cause of death in elderly individuals aged 65 and older and also the most common cause of traumatic spinal cord injury in this age group.

Falls in the Workplace

Falls are the leading cause of occupational spinal cord injury. Construction accident fatalities are five times as likely to occur on construction sites as in other workplaces. Over half of construction accident fatalities are from falls. Falls from heights, such as from a building, scaffolding, or ladder, increase the risk of a complete spinal cord injury.

gun violence

Gun Violence

Gun violence is responsible for 17% of spinal cord injuries. SCIs caused by gunshot wounds result in long hospital stays, and less than 1% of gunshot victims leave the hospital without permanent neurological damage.

sports accidents

Sports Accidents

Sports Accidents Sports and recreational activities account for 8.7% of new spinal cord injuries in the United States. Sports injuries are often caused by pressure to the head and neck, leading to injuries in the cervical spine. The following sports present the highest risk of catastrophic SCIs:

  • Football
  • Ice hockey
  • Wrestling
  • Diving
  • Skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • Rugby
  • Cheerleading

The Long-Term Effects of Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries impact the sensation and motor function of the body below the point of injury. The higher up on the spinal column the injury occurs, the more of the body is impacted. The parts of the spine are as follows:

  • Cervical spine – the neck
  • Thoracic spine – the chest
  • Lumbar spine – the lower back
  • Sacral spine, or sacrum – the pelvis

Loss of Sensation and Motor Function

Complete injuries cause a total loss of sensation and function, resulting in paralysis. The two main types of paralysis are as follows:

  1. Tetraplegia. Tetraplegia occurs when you cannot feel or control any part of the body from the neck or shoulders downward. It is also known as quadriplegia.
  2. Paraplegia. Paraplegia occurs when you lack sensation and control over your trunk, legs, and feet.

Spasticity, characterized by involuntary tightening or spasms of certain muscles, is common. Tetraplegia and paraplegia affect bladder control, bowel control, and sexual function. These conditions also cause a risk of developing pressure ulcers, also referred to as bedsores.

Respiratory Issues

Damage to the cervical or thoracic spinal cord can inhibit breathing and the ability to cough to clear secretions from the lungs. High cervical injuries warrant the use of ventilators.

Chronic Pain

You may experience shooting or stabbing pains in the spinal cord or elsewhere in the body due to the damaged nerves. Overusing functioning muscles to compensate for those that no longer function and spasticity strain muscles and may cause pain.

What is the medical treatment for spinal cord injuries?

Immediate medical care can minimize the effects of the trauma and minimize damage to the spinal cord. After you become stable, you will require a lengthy rehabilitation process. A team of therapists and doctors will provide physical therapy and work with you to prepare you to restore as much independence as possible. They will focus on several important areas:

  • Self-care skills
  • Mobility
  • Respiratory support
  • Communication skills
  • Family support and education
  • Development of a bowel and bladder management program
a doctor examines a patient's spine

Is there a cure for spinal cord damage?

There is no cure for SCI, but hope is on the horizon. New advances in cell transplantation, electrical stimulation, and neuro-rehabilitation are showing promise, and researchers are discovering exciting new technologies constantly. One of our goals at The Lanier Law Firm is to win our clients enough compensation to give our clients hope of full recovery through access to cutting-edge technology.

a doctor pointing to a model of a spine

How much is my spinal cord injury case worth?

Personal injury cases in New York allow those injured because of negligence to receive up to three different types of compensation. New York does not place limits on the amounts you could receive.

  1. Special damages. Also known as economic damages, these are monetary losses that include medical expenses, wheelchairs and other adaptive equipment, property damage, and loss of income.
  2. General damages. Also known as non-economic damages, these losses cannot be measured in dollars. General damages include pain and suffering, loss of capacity to enjoy life, disfigurement, and mental anguish.
  3. Punitive damages. These are awarded when your spine injury was caused by malice, fraud, or blatant recklessness.

Permanently disabling injuries generally result in the highest amount of compensation, but this depends on multiple factors, such as those below:

  1. Whether you were injured at work. Occupational injuries are usually compensated through workers’ compensation. These benefits are limited to certain economic damages, but you do not have to prove employer negligence. You cannot sue an employer if you receive workers’ compensation, but you can sue a property owner or manufacturer of defective products or equipment.
  2. Fault. New York’s contributory negligence law allows you to claim compensation if you are partly at fault in the incident, regardless of your percentage of fault. Compensation is reduced proportionately.

Who is liable for my injuries?

Liability occurs when the negligence of another causes an injury. Negligence occurs when the following can be proven:

  1. The defendant owed a duty of care.
  2. The defendant breached that duty.
  3. The plaintiff suffered an injury because of that breach.
  4. The breach is the proximate cause of injury.

The following parties owe a duty of care:

  1. Property owners, including the City of New York, if failure to take measures to prevent falls precipitated a fall.
  2. Employers. Construction site employers must provide up-to-date safety equipment to workers at heights, according to NYC’s Scaffold Law. Failure to comply exposes the employers to complete liability.
  3. Trucking companies are liable for the negligence of their drivers who cause accidents.
  4. All drivers of motorized vehicles and their insurance companies are liable if they are distracted or violate traffic laws.

How long do I have to file a spinal cord injury lawsuit?

The statute of limitations in New York to file a personal injury lawsuit is three years. However, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as early as possible after your injury. Your attorney will need time to investigate the incident and build your case.

How can a New York spinal cord injury attorney help me?

A successful personal injury claim requires a unique combination of skills, knowledge, and resources, such as forensic and medical experts. The lawyer you choose can make a significant difference in your case results.

At The Lanier Law Firm, we have over 60 lawyers with decades of experience. We are well-known for achieving historic settlements and verdicts against large companies in many types of cases. Our law office has been named one of the best law firms in the nation by US News and World Report.

This type of recognition does not come easily. It is the result of our knowledge, experience, and dedication to each client. We fight relentlessly to win fair compensation for our clients.

Our NYC law firm is located in midtown Manhattan at:

  • 535 Madison Ave , New York, NY 10022

Contact us today for a free case evaluation by completing our easy online form, or call (212) 421-2800 to schedule your free consultation.

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