Spinal cord injuries resulting from an accident can cause severe damage to the central nervous system, leaving the patient in the hospital with months or years of recovery ahead of them. After a hit-and-run accident that leaves a pedestrian injured, many of the most common injuries are sustained in the neck, back, and spine due to the force of being struck by a vehicle. These injuries are considered catastrophic; however, they are not the only injuries that occur as the result of a hit-and-run. Broken bones, CRPS, and concussions are also common. What makes spinal cord injuries catastrophic? This article will delve into a deeper explanation of what our readers need to know when it comes to injuries of such a grave nature.
The spinal cord carries important signals between the brain and the rest of the body’s systems, and the brain and body cannot function without it. These signals from the spinal cord (as well as the central nervous system) control cognitive functions, ability to walk, run, taste, see, hear, speak and move. When the spinal cord sustains an injury from impact to the area (such as a pedestrian struck by a vehicle) this is considered trauma and is a medical emergency. Other ways the spine may become severely compromised can be from violent acts such as a blow to the spine (from a gunshot) or sports-related injuries such as football tackles. These common spinal cord injuries occur more frequently than we think.
When it comes to catastrophic injuries such as those suffered by victims who are struck by a vehicle crossing the street, there are certain standards the law requires a case meets before litigation can proceed. To determine whether an injury is to be considered catastrophic before the judge, a Personal Injury attorney will look at some (or all) of the following criteria when evaluating the case:
- Medical malpractice: a negligent surgeon or doctor, misdiagnosing the patient or failure to properly diagnose the patient so that they can receive the correct treatment can result in a victim sustaining further bodily injury and medical harm. Injurious behavior on the part of a doctor or surgeon can lead to wrongful death if the negligence is not rectified in time by a more qualified professional. For these reasons, medical malpractice is classified as a catastrophic injury.
- Product liability: litigation arises when defective products reach the hands of consumers before the manufacturer can correct an error found in the product (or the manufacturer fails to correct the error at the expense of consumers, knowing it existed and could cause harm). If a defective vehicle is put on the market and its brakes fail, or the seatbelts don’t properly secure the way they should, and a child is injured, these types of things will classify the case as one where the victim sustained a catastrophic injury.
- Negligence, recklessness: was a reckless or negligent act involved in the accident? Medical malpractice notwithstanding, was the accident a hit-and-run? Was a pedestrian struck while crossing the street by a driver who didn’t care about the safety of others? These are questions that must be answered if medical malpractice, product liability, or any form of medical negligence is ruled out. Reckless driving, drunk driving, and negligence on the road are some of the leading causes of catastrophic injuries that lawyers see in their offices daily.
Traumatic Brain Injuries and spinal cord injuries are two of the most catastrophic injuries that occur as a result of accidents for which negligence or reckless was the cause. These injuries are often the direct result of motor vehicle, hit-and-run, motorcycle, drowning, or defective products (and that’s only naming a few). However, when one sustains a TBI or an injury to the spinal cord, if it occurred as the result of a negligent or reckless person as we mentioned above, there may be grounds for litigation in order to recover damages on behalf of the victim.
The high cost of recovery
The insurance companies will play hardball (unjustly so), but those who have sustained traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries need extended, and sometimes lifetime, medical care. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, pain management, wheelchairs, assistive devices for the home, and caregivers are often used in combination with regular doctor and hospital visits on the victim’s road to recovery. Medically and financially, this is costly (it is emotionally taxing as well as financially unreasonable for most victims and their families).
Despite medical necessity, many insurance companies outright deny these claims after a certain amount of money is paid. This hurts victims!
On the legal side, an experienced attorney knows the laws surrounding the insurance company’s manipulative practices intended to pay as little possible. An experienced attorney knows that no amount of money or “cap” can be placed on what’s medically necessary for a trauma victim to recover. It’s the job of the board certified Personal Injury attorney to ensure their client receives exactly what they need–health-wise and on the legal side–to fully recover.
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