The spinal cord is a bunch of nerves in the middle of your back. It helps your body and brain talk to each other. It’s protected by the bones in your back, called vertebrae.
You can lower your injury risk by wearing seatbelts, using safety gear for sports, and being safe at work. But accidents can still happen. If they do, a good emergency plan can differentiate between a severe disability and a full recovery. Quick actions like not moving the spine, getting to the hospital fast, and getting treatment right away can significantly help.
The Importance of Legal Representation
Getting the right lawyer can make the difference if you have a spinal cord injury. They can help you understand the tricky parts of injury law and increase your chances of getting the money you are owed. The first step is knowing your legal rights. Picking the right lawyer is just as important as knowing your rights. Choosing a lawyer based on their knowledge, experience, and past success with spinal cord injury cases would be best. A good lawyer will carefully prepare your case, collect all the needed evidence, and fight for your rights.
Seeking Medical Help After a Spinal Cord Injury
After you’ve had a spinal cord injury, you must get medical help right away. Usually, people with these kinds of injuries are rushed to the emergency room. There, doctors follow a set of steps called the Emergency Room Protocol. This includes an Initial Injury Assessment, which determines how bad your injury is and the best treatment.
It’s also crucial to take care of yourself after your injury. This means eating healthy to help your body heal. Eating the right foods can make a big difference in how fast you get better and how strong your immune system is.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
Each type of spinal cord injury can affect your body and recovery differently. The seriousness, place, and kind of injury can change how it affects your life.
There are two main types of spinal cord injuries:
- Complete Spinal Cord Injury: When your spinal cord is completely cut or hurt. This leads to a total loss of movement and feeling below the injury point. There are two categories for this type:
- Tetraplegia: This is when both your arms and legs are affected.
- Paraplegia: This is when only your legs and lower body are affected.
- Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury: This happens when your spinal cord isn’t completely cut. This allows you to keep some movement and feeling below the injury point. There are two categories for this type:
- Anterior Cord Syndrome: This affects the front of your spinal cord and can change your sense of touch and pain.
- Central Cord Syndrome: This affects the middle of your spinal cord and usually impacts your arms more than your legs.
Car accidents cause about half of all new spinal cord injuries every year. High-speed crashes are still very dangerous, even with safety gear like seat belts and airbags. Keeping your car in good shape and driving safely can help prevent these serious injuries.
Falls are another common cause, especially in older people. Making simple changes at home, like removing things you might trip over and using mats that don’t slip, can help prevent falls. Exercises that improve balance and strength can also help.
Sports injuries can also lead to spinal cord injuries, especially in contact sports like football or wrestling. It’s essential to wear safety gear and use the proper techniques.
Sometimes, spinal cord injuries happen because of things you can’t control. For example, some people might be born with weaker spines, which makes them more likely to get injured.
If an injury happens, it’s essential to get medical help immediately. This can make a big difference in how well you recover. Emergency medical workers know how to keep your spine still and move you safely to help prevent more damage.
Navigating Insurance Claims for Spinal Cord Injuries
Dealing with a spinal cord injury is hard, and handling insurance claims can be challenging, but it’s vital to pay for your needs. Working with insurance claims involves several tasks. Understanding what your policy means and what it covers is a big part of this. Here’s what you should do:
- Understanding Your Policy and Benefits: Knowing the details of your policy is the first step to making a successful claim. Look for more information that could change whether you get benefits or not. Talking with an insurance expert or a lawyer who knows about insurance claims can help you understand complicated policy language.
- Documenting Your Injury and Talking with Insurance Companies: Keep detailed records of all your doctor visits, therapy sessions, and other costs related to your injury. These records will prove your injury and how much it costs. Don’t give up if your claim is rejected at first. Insurance companies often say no at first but might say yes if you appeal with detailed injury records. Talking with insurance companies can be challenging. You’re discussing how much money you’ll get and what your future coverage will look like. It’s essential to negotiate with knowledge and confidence.
Proving Negligence in a Spinal Cord Injury Case
Proving that the defendant was careless is vital to your spinal cord injury lawsuit. This process involves closely looking at the events that led to your injury. This step is crucial, and understanding the basics can significantly help you. You, or your lawyer, will show the court that the defendant was careless or negligent. You can collect photos, videos, and medical records related to your case. It’s essential to have this proof; it provides solid evidence of the defendant’s carelessness. Talking to witnesses is also a big part of building your case.
Statute of Limitations for Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuits
The time limit is called the statute of limitations. It’s the period you have to start a lawsuit after an injury. In Oklahoma, you generally have two years from the injury date to start a personal injury lawsuit, including spinal cord injuries.
Compensation for Spinal Cord Injury Damages
Personal injury damages are split into three main categories:
1. Economic Damages: These are measurable costs that can be calculated, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage.
2. Non-economic Damages: These are more subjective and interpretive costs, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, and loss of companionship.
3. Punitive Damages: These are damages awarded in addition to actual damages when the defendant acted recklessly, with malice, or deceitfully. They are meant to punish the defendant and deter similar behavior in the future.
Emotional and Psychological Impact of Spinal Cord Injuries
After a spinal cord injury, you’re dealing with physical, emotional, and mental changes. These can be just as tough to handle. The shock of the damage can bring up many different feelings, like fear, worry, sadness, and anger. You might also struggle with accepting your injury.
Seeing a therapist is often a crucial part of recovery. They can help you work through these feelings and build your emotional strength. A therapist can give you methods for dealing with the shock, helping you grow after the trauma, and improving your mental health.
Let’s take a closer look at the mental effects of spinal cord injuries and the therapy methods that can help:
- Mental Effects
- Depression and Worry: These are common feelings after serious injuries. You might feel overwhelmed by how your life has changed and worried about what will happen next.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Some people have flashbacks, nightmares, or severe worry because of the trauma.
- Therapy Methods
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps you change negative thoughts and actions. This can help you accept your injury and become emotionally stronger.
- Mindfulness-Based Therapy: This therapy helps you focus on the here and now. This can lower stress and help you deal with trauma.
Support Systems for Spinal Cord Injury Victims
Having a good support network after a spinal cord injury is essential. This help can come from many places, like friends who’ve had similar injuries, family counseling, disability rights groups, and community resources. Check out the Integris Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation Spinal Cord Injury Survivor Group. They meet on the first Thursday of every month from 5:30 pm-7:00 pm. Also, check out the Oklahoma Chapter of the United Spinal Association.
You’re not alone as you work towards getting back to work after a spinal cord injury:
- Job Opportunities: This type of rehabilitation helps you find jobs that match your current abilities. It’s not about returning to your old job but finding new ones where you can succeed.
- Skills Evaluation: This process assesses your current skills. It helps you determine what other jobs you can do with those skills, making it easier to return to work.
- Career Advice: This is a vital part of vocational rehabilitation. It advises on what jobs might benefit you and how to get them.
- Workplace Adjustments: These are changes made at your job to make it easier for you to work. This can mean changing your work environment or giving you special equipment.
Adaptive Sports and Recreational Activities for Spinal Cord Injury Recovery
Adaptive sports and recreational activities are essential for recovery from a spinal cord injury. They improve physical health mood, and provide a sense of belonging and achievement. The Paralympics is a competition for athletes with disabilities, including spinal injuries, demonstrating the ability to overcome challenges.
The US Olympic & Paralympic Training Site is right here in Oklahoma City!
Potential Complications and Secondary Conditions of Spinal Cord Injuries
Individuals with a spinal cord injury may be more prone to illnesses like bladder, lung, and skin infections due to their body’s diminished ability to fight diseases. Regular doctor visits, good hygiene, and antibiotic use can help maintain health.
- Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers, are common when sustained pressure on the skin prevents blood flow, causing skin and underlying tissue death. Regular movement, usage of special mattresses and pillows, and a healthy diet can help prevent bedsores.
- Spasticity, or muscle tightness, is a condition where muscles involuntarily contract. This can be managed through physical therapy, medication, or, occasionally, surgery.
- Breathing difficulties may arise due to weakened chest muscles, making it hard to expel lung mucus. Regular breathing exercises and devices like ventilators can assist with this.
- Autonomic dysreflexia is a severe condition that can cause a sudden rise in blood pressure, often triggered by irritants below the injury site, such as a full bladder. Immediate medical attention is required if this occurs. Regular management of bladder and bowel functions can prevent this condition.
Surgical Interventions for Spinal Cord Injuries
Doctors often suggest surgery right after a spinal cord injury. This is to stop more harm, stabilize the spine, and sometimes help regain some function. Because of new advancements in neurology, the chances of successful surgery are higher.
- Preventing More Injuries:
- Stabilization: Surgery can help make your spine stable and stop more injuries from happening due to movement.
- Decompression: Taking off pressure on the spinal cord can stop more damage and might even help restore some function.
- Risks During and After Surgery:
- Infection: Any surgery has a risk of disease, which can cause more problems if not treated quickly.
- Blood Clots: Surgery increases the chances of blood clots, especially in the legs. These can be very dangerous if they move to the lungs.
Choosing the Right Oklahoma Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer
- Now that you know you need a lawyer for your spinal cord injury case in Oklahoma, take a minute to review finding the best one for your case:
- Don’t rush into choosing a lawyer; take your time to find the right one.
- Verify the lawyer’s credentials, ensuring they are licensed to practice in Oklahoma and have specialized training in personal injury law, particularly spinal cord injuries.
- Review their past cases to assess their track record. Look for successful topics similar to yours.
- Evaluate their communication style. You should feel comfortable discussing your case and concerns with them. They should be able to simplify legal jargon and respond promptly to your queries.
- Understand their fee structure. Some lawyers work on a contingency basis, while others may charge hourly or a flat fee. Ensure you understand their payment system before hiring them.
How Long Does a Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit Typically Take in Oklahoma City?
Each case is different, so depending on how long it takes to work through the lawsuit, figure out the money involved, gather evidence, and talk with the person you’re suing can change how long it takes. Due to the significant damages involved, a lawsuit will likely need to be filed. If the case goes to trial, expect the litigation process to take a year before the case gets to trial—most personal injury cases so that it might take less time.
How Do Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers in Oklahoma City Charge for Their Services?
Spinal cord injury lawyers in Oklahoma City charge on a contingency fee basis. This means they only get paid if they win your case.
It’s always a good idea to talk about these things initially. You’ll want to confirm the contingency fee percentage and how much it increases as the case progresses.