When another person’s negligence or recklessness injures your spine, your life may never be the same. Whether you suffer chronic pain and discomfort or partial or total paralysis, trauma to your neck, back, or spine can interrupt your daily activities, jeopardize your livelihood, and devastate your family.
Data from the National Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Statistic Center and contributing sources reveal:
- There are nearly 18,000 non-fatal SCI cases in the U.S. each year.
- The average age of those sustaining SCIs is 43.
- More than three-quarters of SCI survivors are male.
- Only one percent of those hospitalized for SCIs experience full neurological recovery by the time they are discharged.
If you can’t walk, play with your children, or work to support your family, recovering compensation for your injuries is a necessity. Whether you live in San Jose, Santa Clara County, or anywhere else in the Bay Area or Northern California, you need experienced and accomplished personal injury lawyer, James Suits, to pursue your rights.
Causes of Spine-Related Injuries
Additional research ranks the causes and occurrence of neck, back, and spine injuries:
- Motor vehicle accidents – including car crashes, motorcycle collisions, truck crashes, bicycle accidents, and hit-and-runs – whether or not drunk driving is involved (38.1%).
- Slips, trips, and falls – including premises liability and dangerous property conditions (31.2%).
- Violent acts – including assault and battery (14.2%)
- Sports and recreational activities (8.5%)
- Other causes – including pedestrian accidents and construction-related accidents (8.0%).
The U.S. has an estimated 294,000 people living with SCIs, 32.5% of whom are quadriplegic or paraplegic.
Common Types of Neck and Back Injuries
In the nearly 40% of SCIs resulting from motor vehicle accidents, survivors suffer various injuries, such as:
- Whiplash is the most frequent neck injury in an auto accident and happens when a person’s neck is suddenly jerked back and forth. The snapping motion damages surrounding nerves, ligaments, muscles, and bones. Symptoms may include neck stiffness and achiness that worsens with movement, headaches, numbness, tingling, and arm, shoulder, and upper back pain.
- Strains and Sprains involve soft tissue damage to the neck, leading to stiffness, spasms, pain, and limited mobility.
- Herniated Discs happen when the soft cushioning between cervical vertebrae shifts after sudden impact. Herniation compresses the nerves, leading to limb pain, weakness, numbness, tingling, a pins-and-needles sensation, and loss of sensation. Sometimes, whiplash symptoms may be signs of a herniated disc.
- Pinched Nerves occur when herniated discs or other spinal injuries push on nerves, causing pain, weakness, and numbness in the arms, shoulders, and neck.
Back, neck, or spine injury treatments range from over-the-counter medication to complete immobilization. Long-term treatment commonly includes prescription medications and injections, physical therapy and rehabilitation, and chiropractic care.
We all know the essential role our spines play in how we move. It’s the pathway for information from the brain to our arms, legs, fingers, toes, faces, and other areas of our bodies. When trauma injures or severs the spinal cord, that information stops, resulting in a debilitating disability or paralysis.
Physicians use these terms to classify the area and extent of the paralysis:
- Paraplegia — paralysis of both legs.
- Quadriplegia — paralysis of both arms and both legs.
- Hemiplegia — paralysis on one side of the body.
- Facial Paralysis — paralysis of the facial muscles.
- Complete paralysis – lack of control and an inability to move or control paralyzed muscles.
- Partial or incomplete paralysis (paresis) – limited feeling and control over paralyzed muscles.
- Localized paralysis – affecting the face, hands, feet, vocal cords, or another specific area.
- Generalized paralysis – widespread lack of control over larger parts of the body, depending on the location of the spinal injury.
- Monoplegia – generalized paralysis affecting a single limb.
- Diplegia – paralysis of the same area on both sides of the body, such as arms, legs, and both sides of the face.
- Hemiplegia – paralysis affecting one side of the body.
- Locked-in syndrome – the rarest and most severe type of paralysis causing complete loss of muscle control except eye movements.
Damages for Back, Neck, and Spine Injury Accidents
Daily life can pose ongoing challenges for individuals with spinal injuries, making routine struggles of eating, bathing, traveling, and using the restroom. Too often, the financial burden overwhelms SCI survivors and their families. If another person or entity is at fault for the accident that caused those injuries, holding them accountable for damages and compensation is critical – as is retaining a seasoned lawyer like James Suits.
Damages are divided into three categories: economic, non-economic, and punitive.
Economic damages (also called actual damages) seek to replace what the accident victim has lost and include the calculable financial harm, such as:
- Past and future medical care and treatment.
- Nursing home care.
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy expenses.
- Lost income, beginning with the accident and into the future.
- Lost earning capacity.
- Domestic services (related to household or daily living costs).
- Increased living expenses.
- Costs of activities they can no longer do themselves.
- Property replacement or repair.
Non-economic damages (also known as general damages) cover injuries that are more difficult to place a value on, including:
- Pain and suffering.
- Mental and emotional distress.
- Physical disfigurement.
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
- Your spouse’s loss of consortium.
Punitive damages are available in very limited circumstances. A judge or jury can only award them when the personal injury victim proves the at-fault party engaged in willful and wanton negligence “intentionally with the knowledge that it will probably cause harm.”
If you’ve sustained a back, neck, or spine injury and pursue legal action to recover damages, an insurance carrier or self-insured corporation will likely step in to defend the case. Those companies aren’t in the business of giving out money freely; instead, they’ll want to pay you as little as possible for the harm you’ve suffered. They may even argue that you were somehow responsible for the accident. California is a “comparative negligence” state, meaning that even if you were partially to blame, you could still recover damages proportionate to the other party’s liability.
Filing a San Jose Neck, Back, or Spine Injury Lawsuit
If you sustained serious or catastrophic spinal injuries in San Jose or someplace else in California, you may be entitled to bring a claim for damages against the at-fault person or organization. Proving your case can be complicated, and the law gives you only a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit.
Don’t initiate a claim without consulting an attorney. Don’t negotiate with an insurance carrier or company lawyer before retaining your own attorney. Do contact James Suits today to discuss your situation.
Please call us today to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can secure the compensation you need to move forward.