NYC Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers

Legal Representation for Accident Victims with Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries (SCI), defined as "damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal" by the Mayo Clinic, can be incredibly serious injuries. They are frequently caused by trauma, or a sudden blow to the spine. A severe impact from an outside force can cause the spine to be severed, fractured, crushed, or bruised, ultimately leading to a variety of symptoms that range in severity.

The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) reports that in the United States alone, there are approximately 17,730 new SCI cases each year. In total, there are an estimated 291,000 people living with a spinal cord injury across the country. A spinal cord injury can have lifelong effects on a victim's life. SCI victims may spend millions of dollars over the course of their lifetimes on expenses related to their injury. In many cases, it is incredibly important for victims to seek legal assistance in order to obtain compensation for the damages they suffer as a result of their injury.

Our Spinal Cord and Types of Spinal Cord Injury

The spinal cord is a column of nerve fibers and tissue that is enclosed in and protected by the spine. These nerves are responsible for connecting nearly all parts of the body to the brain, making up our central nervous system. If damage is done to the spinal nerve cells, called neurons, or if the nerves are somehow severed, the spinal cord will have difficulty delivering signals to the brain. The affected areas may lose sensation or the ability to function, either temporarily or permanently.

The severity of the injury, also called the "completeness," will vary depending on where the injury occurred and the severity of the impact. Those who have suffered trauma to the head, neck, or back may not be immediately aware that they have suffered a spinal cord injury. For this reason, it is important to seek medical attention after an accident to ensure that you are in good health.

Symptoms of a possible spinal cord injury include:

  • Loss of movement
  • Lost or diminished sensation, such as the ability to feel heat and touch
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Exaggerated reflexes or spasms
  • Pain, such as a stinging sensation caused by nerve damage
  • Difficulty breathing

Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries can be caused by trauma or medical illness. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the majority of spinal cord injuries in the United States are caused by car accidents (about 37 percent). Other common causes include:

  • Falls
  • Surgical error
  • Birth injury
  • Train accidents
  • Truck/ motorcycle collisions
  • Construction site accidents
  • Defective products or machinery failures
  • Acts of violence

Additional damage to the spinal cord can occur in the days following the accident. Bleeding, swelling, and fluid accumulation around the spinal cord can worsen the initial injury. For this reason, it is crucial to undergo a medical examination as soon as possible following an accident.

If you or a loved one has been severely injured in an accident, the attorneys at Block O'Toole & Murphy may be able to help. Our firm has a proven track record of results fighting on behalf on accident victims. For a free legal consultation, call 212-736-5300 or fill out our online contact form.

Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries are classified as "complete" or "incomplete." The injury is classified as complete if the patient has lost all feeling and motor function below the site of the injury. If the patient retains some motor function and the ability to feel below the injury, then the injury is incomplete.

Paralysis is the loss of the ability to move which may occur as a result of a spinal cord injury. There are two main types of paralysis:

  • Paraplegia: Paralysis affecting the body from the torso down
  • Tetraplegia (Quadriplegia): Paralysis affecting all four limbs (both arms and legs)

The spinal cord is divided into four sections: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral. Each section controls nerves in different parts of the body. A spinal cord injury will affect the body differently depending on the section where it occurs. For example, tetraplegia is more likely to result from an injury to the cervical spine while paraplegia is more likely to occur from a thoracic or lumbar injury.

Generally, the closer the injury is to the brain, the greater the loss of function, according to the Shepherd Center. Therefore, if an injury occurs higher up on the spine, someone may experience more severe forms of paralysis than a person who suffered an injury to a lower area of the spinal cord.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Spinal Cord Injuries

Early diagnosis and treatment can drastically increase a spinal cord injury victim's chances for recovery. During the examination, the doctor will conduct a neurological exam to test the patient's sensitivity to touch, ability to move, and reflexes to determine if there is damage and where the damage may be located. Additionally, a doctor will likely conduct one or more of the following tests:

  • X-ray: An imaging test that creates pictures of internal body structures using radiation and electromagnetic waves. Bones and tissues absorb different amounts of radiation resulting in images where bones appear white due to high radiation absorption while other tissues appear grey because they absorb less amounts of radiation.
  • CT Scan: A test that utilizes a series of x-ray images taken from different angles to create more detailed images of the body. These images are able to show cross-sectional views of internal structures.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): This test uses a large magnet and radio waves to produce images of internal structures. MRIs are particularly useful for examining the brain and spinal cord.

Spinal cord injuries can be life-altering, leaving victims with complications that deeply affect themselves and those they love. Complications resulting from spinal cord injuries may include:

  • Lost skin sensation
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Increased risk of blood clots from poor circulation
  • Difficulty breathing and coughing
  • Weight loss and muscle atrophy
  • Diminished sexual health
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Depression

Sadly, there are no treatments to reverse damage to the spinal cord. Researchers continue to search for ways to treat spinal cord injuries but in the meantime, treatment focuses on preventing further injury. Those suffering from SCI are still able to live a full and productive life despite their injury.

Rehabilitation will focus on strengthening existing muscle function, learning skills that allow patients to accomplish daily tasks, and redeveloping motor skills. Patients are also educated on ways to prevent further injury and receive advice on how to move on from their accident to live a fulfilling life.

Financial Costs of Spinal Injuries

According to the Foundation for Spinal Cord Injury Prevention and Cure, the average lifetime cost for a patient who suffered paraplegia at age 25 is nearly $1 million. For patients with quadriplegia, the cost for lifetime treatment ranges between $1.5 million and $3 million. These figures do not take into account lost wages or other financial losses resulting from paralysis.

At Block O'Toole & Murphy, our attorneys understand the financial burden patients and their families incur as a result of a spinal cord injury. To ensure our clients obtain compensation proportional to the financial impact of their injuries, we work with a team of experts including medical professionals, life care planners and economic specialists who can help document and estimate the needs of our clients.

To obtain a FREE initial legal consultation and determine how we can help you, contact our NYC personal injury lawyers today by calling 212-736-5300 or filling out our online contact form. We serve Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Long Island, Yonkers, New Rochelle, Buffalo, and all of New York State.

Top Results in Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuits

The Law Firm of Block O'Toole & Murphy has a respected reputation of top verdicts and settlements for our clients. We are committed to making sure our clients receive maximum compensation they are entitled to under the law.

*Notable verdicts and settlements in spinal cord injury cases include:

  • $110,174,972 Verdict for a cyclist who was paralyzed from the waist down after he was hit by a 10-foot railroad tie that fell from the train tracks above
  • $9,263,326 Recovery for auto accident victim who suffered radiculopathy and lumbar nerve damage as well as cervical disc herniation
  • $7,400,000 Settlement for Brooklyn worker who fell on the job and suffered spinal cord injuries that required fusion surgery and a spinal cord stimulator implant
  • $6,250,000 Settlement (despite $2,000,000 insurance limit) in Putnam County case for employee who suffered a fracture to his cervical spine resulting in complete quadriplegia
  • $6,000,000 Award to bus passenger who suffered multiple injuries including disc herniation after the bus collided with another vehicle
  • $6,000,000 Settlement for worker who fell from an exterior scaffold and sustained herniated discs to his cervical spine and his lumbar spine requiring surgery
  • $5,885,000 Jury Verdict in Queens case for worker who fell from a ladder and suffered multiple disc herniations requiring lumbar spine fusion to levels L3-4 and L4-5
  • $5,500,000 Settlement for driver who required lumbar fusion surgery after crash with dump truck. The collision exacerbated a previous disc herniation and created a new herniation at the L4-5 disc.
  • $5,500,000 Settlement to man struck by a freight elevator gate at a Manhattan high-rise and required a fusion of the lumbar spine and placement of a temporary spinal cord stimulator
  • $5,160,000 Jury Verdict for 38-year-old man who suffered spinal injuries after a car crash caused by another vehicle running through a s top sign
  • $4,650,000 Settlement for laborer who fell approximately 10-15 feet at work in Astoria, Queens and sustained herniated and bulging spinal discs requiring open reduction internal fixation fusion surgery
  • $4,000,000 Settlement in Nassau County case awarded to 35-year-old laborer who fell from a wet roof and sustained a burst fracture at the L1 level of his spine
  • $4,000,000 Verdict awarded to a lead inspector who fell through temporary flooring at a construction site in the Bronx. The accident exacerbated his prior radicular condition. Plaintiff required an extreme lateral interbody lumbar fusion in addition to a lumbar decompression surgery.
  • $4,000,000 Settlement for pedestrian who was struck by a vehicle at a crosswalk and required lumbar interbody fusion with four screws as well as an interbody cage
  • $3,500,000 Settlement in Manhattan case for pedestrian who was struck in the head and neck by falling object. As a result, he sustained chronic radiculopathy and lost range of motion in his cervical and lumbar regions.

To learn more about our results for injury victims, please visit the firm's Verdicts and Settlements page.

Questions? Call 212-736-5300 for a FREE Consultation or fill out an online contact form.

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*Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.