Few things are as terrifying after a car accident as being paralyzed. Waking up in a hospital to discover you cannot walk or move is frightening. Spinal cord injuries, or SCIs, do not always result in full paralysis, but when they do, the result is years or even a lifetime of pain, suffering, and loss of independence.
The New York car accident attorneys of Hach & Rose, LLP are experienced in helping those who’ve suffered paralysis because of car accident injuries fight for the compensation they deserve. If you were paralyzed in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, call (212) 779-0057 for help today.
Types of Paralysis
Paralysis is broadly divided into two types: complete and incomplete. Complete paralysis means the affected limb or limbs are immobile and have a full loss of sensation. Incomplete means that the limbs cannot move but still retain some feeling.
- Paraplegia is paralysis from the waist down. Incomplete paraplegia means that the person may be able to feel some portions of their legs and feet and possibly has some gross motor ability, such as raising their legs, but not enough to stand or walk. Paraplegia is caused by damage to the lower spinal cord, typically below the thoracic vertebrae and usually the lumbar vertebrae.
- Tetraplegia, or quadriplegia, is paralysis from the shoulders down. In tetraplegia, the hands and arms are also affected, and the spinal cord damage is located in the cervical vertebrae. If the damage involves the upper cervical vertebrae, the C1 or C2 vertebrae, the nerves to vital organs may also be compromised, and the person may have difficulty talking or breathing.
- Hemiplegia is paralysis of one side of the body. This is commonly seen after strokes.
Mechanisms of Paralysis
The spine is a tough yet fragile stack of bone and connective tissue, with nerves protruding from between layers of cartilage that are like spaghetti going through a pile of donuts and hockey pucks. If something causes the hockey pucks to crush the donuts and break the spaghetti strands, the nerves are severed, and paralysis results.
If you recall your high school biology class, you may remember that the nerves for the lower body start in the middle of the back. This means that damage to the lower back can cause lower leg paralysis.
In a car accident, lower back injuries are caused when the pelvis is pushed into the lower thighs. This can sever or bruise the nerves in the lumbar area. Because the spinal cord cannot heal, even serious bruises can lead to paralysis.
More serious is the potential for a neck injury. Everyone is familiar with whiplash, as the head bends forward and then back under the speed of impact. At very high speeds, the head’s weight can shear the cervical vertebrae, causing the same bruising and severing of the nerves or even the spinal cord.
This potential for damage to the nerves and spinal cord makes paramedics place accident victims on backboards, and why having your injury assessed by a doctor after an accident is so critical. Even if it was “just a fender bender,” bruising and swelling to the nerves can show up later and cause partial paralysis days after the event.
After an Accident
It was believed that the spinal cord could never regenerate itself so that someone paralyzed in an accident could never walk or move again. Doctors have now discovered that with intensive physical and drug therapy, damage to the spinal cord can be minimized if these therapies are given immediately after the injury.
The costs of paralysis are staggering. The lifetime costs for a 25-year-old with paraplegia can top $2 million, counting only healthcare and living expenses. Include lost wages, pain and suffering, and future medical advances, and the cost becomes several times that.
For someone with tetraplegia, the costs are even higher. Because of the degree of supportive care needed, someone with high-cord damage can expect their medical bills to reach more than $5 million over their lifetime, assuming they never get any of the common ailments that tetraplegics suffer, such as pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and pressure sores.
You deserve compensation for paralysis after a car accident
For these reasons, compensating an accident victim for their paralysis injury is essential if another person’s negligence or carelessness caused their injury. Beyond recovery for medical bills at the time of the accident, paralysis victims can and should recover compensation for:
- Lost wages and lost future wages. If you cannot work or need retraining for a new job, you are entitled to recover for your loss.
- Future care. The prognosis for paralysis victims is not good. The likelihood that you will need additional medical care as you age is great. You are entitled to have that future care provided if another person’s negligence caused your injury.
- Pain and suffering. The physical and emotional trauma caused by paralysis is immense. You deserve what relief you can get from that pain.
- Therapy, support devices, and equipment that are not covered by insurance. Some types of assistance will not be covered by insurance. You should not have to pay out of pocket for devices that will help you in your recovery.
- Loss of consortium. Under certain circumstances, your spouse or significant other has a stake in your paralysis. They have a right to compensation for their loss as well.
How an Attorney Can Help You With Paralysis After a Car Accident
If you or a loved one have suffered paralysis in a car accident, you deserve to have all your current and future needs compensated. You need an attorney to help you obtain the information you need to recover your damages and restore your quality of life.
Remember that there is a statute of limitations to consider. You have three years from the accident date in New York to file a lawsuit. If you fail to file by the deadline, you will likely miss out on your opportunity to pursue compensation through the court system. Don’t wait to contact an attorney for your case review. Call us right away if you believe you have a case.
The New York car accident attorneys of Hach & Rose, LLP can give you the compassionate, experienced assistance you will need to file your claim properly and get the compensation you need. Contact our team today at (212) 779-0057 for a free and confidential consultation.