Catastrophic Injuries 101: Paralysis
While most accident victims walk away unscathed, some accidents can result in life-changing injuries. Car accidents, truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents can quickly result in very serious injuries that include permanent partial or total disabilities. Accident victims who suffer catastrophic injuries face a lifetime of challenges, whether it is keeping a job or simply taking care of themselves. If you are facing temporary or permanent paralysis, you should talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer about whether you may be entitled to monetary compensation.
Symptoms of Paralysis
While many accidents result in sudden and obvious paralysis, this is not always the case. Paralysis can develop over time as a result of your injuries. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention:
- Muscle cramps
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of sensation or tingling in your limbs or extremities
- Loss of muscle control, motor function, or range of motion
- Muscle loss or atrophy
- Involuntary twitches or spasms
These symptoms can indicate that you have suffered a spinal cord injury or nerve damage, especially if your symptoms are getting progressively worse. Listen to your body and do not dismiss your symptoms. Instead, schedule an appointment with your doctor to get a thorough medical exam. They can conduct a variety of tests to determine whether you may be facing paralysis.
Causes of Paralysis
In the context of an accident, most cases of paralysis are caused by an injury to the brain or spinal cord that disrupts the communication between the brain and the body resulting in mobility issues. However, nerve damage can also result in paralysis, at least on a temporary basis. These injuries are common in serious accidents, where tremendous forces are exerted on the body. Whether it is a brain injury, a spinal cord injury, or nerve damage, paralysis can change your life forever. The best thing to do is to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible in order to understand your options.
Types of Paralysis
Paralysis caused by accidents typically falls into one of the following categories:
- Monoplegia – paralysis that affects just one limb, caused by nerve damage or brain injuries
- Hemiplegia – paralysis that affects just one side of the body, caused by spinal cord or brain injuries
- Paraplegia – paralysis from the waist down, typically caused by spinal cord injuries
- Quadriplegia or tetraplegia – paralysis of all four limbs and sometimes organs caused by severe brain injuries or injuries to the spinal cord in the neck area
Paralysis can also be classified according to the severity, duration, and muscle involvement. For example:
- Paralysis can be partial, where the patient has some feeling and control, versus total, which is a complete loss of feeling and motor function.
- Paralysis can be temporary or permanent.
- Paralysis can be spastic or flaccid. Spastic paralysis is when the muscles can spasm and may become tight and hard. Flaccid paralysis is when the muscles cannot contract, become weak, and eventually atrophy.
Understanding your paralysis and getting the proper diagnosis is vital to the success of your claim. A personal injury lawyer can help make sure you get the medical attention you need.
How Paralysis Can Impact Your Life
Whether the paralysis is partial or total, accident victims who are suffering from paralysis are often focused on their loss of mobility. When it comes to pursuing a claim, however, you also need to consider the long-term impacts that paralysis can have on your life.
You May Be Unable to Work
Depending on the extent of your paralysis, you may be unable to work at all. Others may only be able to work part-time. Some paralysis victims are unable to work in their chosen field and must accept lower-paying or less desirable jobs. This means that you may not only lose your ability to earn an income but also be unable to invest in your future retirement.
You May Be Unable to Care for Yourself
Due to the loss of mobility, you may need daily assistance with things like bathing, cooking, and cleaning. This may require you to hire someone to help you or have a family member take time off from work to help. Hiring outside help can be expensive, but having a spouse or family member stay home can translate into a significant loss of income.
You May Be Unable to Do Things You Love
It may seem insignificant to some, but your paralysis may mean missing out on activities that bring a great deal of meaning and enjoyment to your life. A runner, for example, may never be able to run again. Adjusting to life without running can be extremely difficult for them if it is a big part of their daily life. Whatever it is that you enjoy, suddenly losing the ability to participate in that activity can lead to intense feelings of sadness and loss.
You May Be Unable to Drive
For many people, paralysis means that they are no longer able to operate a motor vehicle. As a result, you may need to rely upon friends and relatives, public transportation, taxis, or rideshare services to get where you need to go. You may, therefore, have additional transportation costs, which can add up over time. Alternatively, you may need extensive modifications to your vehicle in order for you to be able to drive it.
You Are at Increased Risk of Complications
People who are paralyzed are more likely to face a variety of health issues throughout their lives. Some of the issues include the following:
- Sexual dysfunction
- Blood pressure issues
- Heart disease
- Blood clots
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Respiratory infections such as pneumonia
The bottom line is that you may be facing a lifetime of additional medical care in addition to the care you need to address your paralysis.
What Your Case May Be Worth
If you have become paralyzed as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and other losses. Unfortunately, most non-lawyers do not understand the true value of their claim. The compensation you are entitled to includes not just the losses you have already suffered, but also your future losses. As a result, you may be entitled to compensation for the following:
- Medical expenses – both those medical expenses that you have already incurred as well as those that you will need for future medical treatment. This could include medical expenses associated with things like in-home care, surgery, and rehabilitative care.
- Lost income – you are entitled to any wages you have lost as a result of your accident. You may also be entitled to future lost income and lost earning potential if you are unable to work full-time in your chosen profession or unable to work at all. This could also include things like lost value in your retirement plans and pensions.
- Pain and suffering – anyone who suffers a serious injury will experience significant pain and suffering. While those who are paralyzed may not necessarily feel pain, the mental anguish they experience can be debilitating as they face a future that
The last element – pain and suffering – can be significant, but proving it can be extraordinarily difficult. Maximizing the compensation you receive is critical to getting the care you need and rebuilding your life. The best way to accomplish this is by working with an experienced personal injury lawyer who understands the unique challenges that paralyzed victims face.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
The first step in the process is determining whether someone else should be held accountable for your injury. In most cases, this means proving that they were negligent in some way. Even when it may be obvious to you, you will need evidence of their negligence to support your claim. A skilled personal injury lawyer can thoroughly investigate your accident and gather the evidence you need to support your case.
Your lawyer can also help you gather the medical evidence you will need, including your medical bills and records. It can become very difficult to keep track of all of the paperwork when you are faced with the possibility of a permanent disability. They can keep your documents organized and safe so that they are available when you need them. They can also make sure that they accurately reflect the extent of your injuries, your prognosis, your limitations, and what accommodations you may need.
Your lawyer can also handle the communications with the insurance company. You may be surprised at how willing they are to settle your case. Unfortunately, the insurance company’s first offer is often a lowball offer. An experienced personal injury attorney can advocate on your behalf and make sure that you get fair compensation for your claim.
Lastly, they can advise you of your legal options and take legal action when necessary. Even if you do not want to go to court, filing a lawsuit can be valuable leverage for settling your case. In addition, going to court is sometimes your best option for getting the compensation you deserve.
Contact The Grife Law Firm if You Have Been Paralyzed in an Accident
At The Grife Law Firm, we work tirelessly to get our clients fair compensation for their claims from the very first day. Contact us today at 561-998-0770 to schedule a free consultation – let’s discuss your case and how we can help you get your life back.