Injuries to your spinal cord can range from minor to severe and can cause you immense pain. You may lose the ability to do the things you love, which can be devastating. In addition to this emotional pain, you may be struggling to pay the medical bills associated with your injury.
If you acquired a spinal cord injury due to an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may qualify for compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. An experienced spinal cord injury lawyer in Fort Myers from Viles & Beckman can help you understand your legal options.
What Is a Spinal Cord Injury?
A spinal cord injury (SCI) involves damage to any part of the spinal cord—including the vertebrae, ligaments, or disks—or nerves at the end of the spinal canal. The spinal cord is about 18 inches long, extending from the base of the head to near the waist.
The spinal cord is divided into four groups, including:
- Cervical vertebrae, located in the neck
- Thoracic vertebrae in the upper back
- Lumbar vertebrae in the lower back
- Sacral vertebrae in the pelvis
Wherever the pain is in your body, our Fort Myers spinal cord injury lawyers are ready to help you recover financially so that you can focus on your physical recovery. When you choose our firm, you have years of experience behind you, fighting for the maximum settlement.
For a free legal consultation with a spinal cord injury lawyer serving Fort Myers, call (239) 334-3933
What Are the Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury?
After sustaining an SCI, it’s important to know what to look for to determine if you need immediate medical assistance. Some of the common symptoms include:
- Extreme pain or pressure in the head, neck, or back
- Loss of sensation in the hands, fingers, feet, or toes or altered sensation, such as the inability to feel items that are hot or cold to the touch
- Difficulty breathing
- Partial or complete loss of function in a body part
- Urinary or bowel incontinence
- Exaggerated reflexes or spasms
- Difficulty with walking or balance
- Unusual lumps on the head or spine or an oddly positioned neck or back
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, we recommend that you visit your doctor. After you’ve been diagnosed, our Fort Myers spinal cord injury attorneys can help you build your case and fight for compensation.
Fort Myers Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Near Me (239) 334-3933
How do Doctors Diagnose Spinal Cord Injuries?
There are many ways doctors care for patients with spinal cord injuries. One way includes evaluating people using diagnostic tests. The tests used to diagnose SCIs include radiologic evaluations as well as standardized testing tools.
SCIs are then rated as to the type of damage that has been done based on the lowest normally performing area of the spine and the ability of the limbs to function. There are two types of SCI:
- Complete: All feeling and ability to control function below the damaged area of the spine.
- Incomplete: Some sensation and/or motor function exists below the site of the injury.
Paralysis is the loss of sensation and motor function. This can be categorized as either:
- Tetraplegia, also known as quadriplegia, which features loss of sensation and motor function in the arms, legs, torso, and pelvic region of the body, or
- Paraplegia, which is a loss of sensation and motor function in the torso, pelvis, and legs.
What Is Involved in the Treatment of SCIs?
The treatment of SCIs usually begins before the patient even reaches the hospital, when the emergency medical responders immobilize the spine at the scene of the accident.
This early treatment then proceeds to the emergency room with further stabilization as well as diagnostic tests, such as X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans, and addressing immediate, life-threatening complications of the injury.
Afterward, treatment may include:
- Traction to bring the spine into proper alignment and improve blood flow to affected organs and limbs.
- Surgery to relieve compression of a herniated disk, blood clots, or other lesions on the spinal cord.
- Maintenance of regular blood pressure.
- Monitoring of cardiovascular function.
- Adequate ventilation and lung function.
- Preventing and addressing infection and other complications from the injury.
Most of a patient’s ability to recover will take place within the first six months after injury, though some people experience small improvements for as long as a year or two. However, every injury is different, so your healing time may be shorter or longer than these time frames.
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How do You Prove Negligence in a Spinal Cord Injury Case in Fort Myers?
To obtain compensation from an at-fault party in a personal injury lawsuit, a plaintiff must be able to prove that the at-fault party’s actions were negligent. Negligence is established by proving the following:
- The defendant (at-fault party) owed the plaintiff (claimant) a duty of care. This duty of care depends on what was happening when the accident occurred. For example, the duty of care in a car accident case would be the duty to obey traffic laws and drive the vehicle safely.
- There was a breach in this duty of care that resulted in an accident.
- The accident was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries and financial damages.
Our Fort Myers spinal cord injury lawyers at Viles & Beckman are ready to help you hold the negligent party responsible for their actions. We’ll walk you through the process of filing a claim so that you can rest knowing that we’re fighting for your interests.
How Much Time do I Have to File an SCI Claim in Fort Myers?
According to Fla. Stat. § 95.11, you have four years to file a claim for your spinal cord injury. We recommend that you do not wait to file. If you can file soon after your injury occurs, it will be to your advantage because you have a higher chance of getting the maximum amount of settlement.
Even though Florida’s statute of limitations is four years, the time you have to file may differ depending on your specific case. A spinal cord injury attorney in Fort Myers can tell you exactly how much time you have to file.
How does Florida Law Protect Those Suffering From SCI?
A spinal cord injury is a significant injury. To protect people who have a spinal cord injury, Florida’s personal injury law allows for victims to seek compensation for SCIs caused by someone else’s negligence or recklessness.
Florida is a no-fault insurance state. If your injury occurred as a result of a car accident, your PIP insurance may limit you from claiming pain and suffering and other non-economic damages. However, Florida has a serious injury threshold exception that allows you to claim those damages.
According to Fla. Stat. § 627.737, the injury must meet one of the following requirements to qualify:
- Cause significant and permanent loss of an important body function
- Are permanent, within a reasonable degree of medical probability
- Cause significant or permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Lead to the claimant’s or the claimant’s loved one’s death
What Damages Can I Recover From an SCI Case in Fort Myers?
A spinal cord injury attorney in Fort Myers can help you identify the damages your case qualifies for. A personal injury lawsuit may result in compensation for the following expenses:
- Past, current, and future medical expenses
- Lost wages from work, including time spent traveling to and from appointments
- Permanent disability
- The cost of hiring someone to complete household chores that you can no longer do
- Emotional distress, including anxiety or depression
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium, which means the injury has interfered with your familial relationships
- Any property that was damaged in the accident
- Punitive damages if the negligent party was grossly negligent
- Other expenses that were a direct result of your injury including the cost of wheelchairs and adaptive features on your car or in your home
Even if you were partially responsible for the accident that caused your injuries, you may still qualify for compensation through Florida’s comparative negligence standard. This standard means that you may file a personal injury lawsuit, but a court will reduce your damages award by the amount of responsibility you bear.
How Much Compensation Can I Get for My Spinal Cord Injury?
The amount of your settlement for your SCI case will depend on various factors, such as the degree to which the negligent party was at fault, the severity of your injuries, and if you were partially at fault. So, a spinal cord injury settlement could range from $50,000 to well over $1,000,000, depending on the details of your case.
If the party responsible for your injury was grossly negligent, you may be awarded punitive damages. These damages are awarded to discourage the defendant from repeating their actions. Punitive damages may be up to three times your total damages or a value of $500,000.
If you have a spinal cord injury and you would like to get an estimation of your damages, our spinal cord injury attorneys in Fort Myers provide a free case review. We’ll review your case, and we can give you an estimation of the settlement you may receive.