Orange County Spinal Cord Injury Attorney
Injuries to the spinal cord can result in disability, paralysis, and even death. If you or someone you love has suffered a spinal cord injury in an Orange County accident, do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of John Rapillo for help.
With the assistance of our experienced Orange County personal injury attorneys, you can get the compensation you need after a traumatic accident. For over 35 years, we have successfully represented injured clients like you and helped them to recover millions in monetary damages. Call us today to set up a free consultation and find out how we can help you, too.
What is a Spinal Cord Injury?
The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that attach nearly every part of the body to the brain. When the spinal cord becomes damaged, the body’s ability to function properly is compromised. A spinal cord injury can be loosely defined to mean any damage to the spinal column and connected nerve tissues.
The symptoms and specific injuries that you will encounter after a spinal cord injury will depend on which part of your spinal cord is affected. In most cases, the part of the body below the level of injury will be affected. As a result, injuries higher on the spinal column affect larger portions of the body.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord is divided into four distinct regions:
- lumbar, and
Cervical Injuries: The Cervical spine is located at the very top of the spinal cord, forming the primary connection between the spinal column and brain. The Cervical spine is responsible for communication with the neck, shoulders, arms, hands, and torso. Cervical injuries can affect any region of the body below the level of injury. In many cases, Cervical injuries result in quadriplegia (paralysis of both arms and legs).
Thoracic Injuries: The Thoracic spine is located just below the Cervical spine. Since it is protected by the rib cage, injuries to the Thoracic spine are less common. The Thoracic spine is responsible for communication with the lower back and lower torso. Injuries to the Thoracic spine can result in paralysis of the lower part of the body.
Lumbar Injuries: The Lumbar spine is located beneath the Cervical region near the bottom of the spinal cord. It is primarily responsible for communication with the genitals, buttocks, abdomen, and some parts of the legs. Injuries to the Lumbar spine can result in paraplegia (paralysis of the legs).
Sacral Injuries: The Sacral spine is located beneath the Lumbar region at the base of the spinal column. It is responsible for communication with the legs, feet, and genitals. Injuries to the Sacral spine can result in paraplegia and sexual dysfunction.
Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury
The spinal cord is responsible for most of our major bodily functions. When the spinal cord cannot effectively communicate directions from the brain, our bodies cannot work properly. If you experience any of the following symptoms after an accident, it is important to seek medical attention immediately:
- Numbness or tingling in the limbs or extremities
- Loss of sensation or feeling
- Complete or partial paralysis
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty speaking
- Loss of the control of your bladder or bowels
- Chronic pain, and
- Difficulty regulating body temperature.
Have you experienced any of these symptoms? They may indicate that you have suffered a spinal cord injury. Seek medical attention and contact an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney as soon as you can.
Causes of Orange County Spinal Cord Injuries
Each year, more than 12,500 people suffer a spinal cord injury. Statistics show that men are much more likely to suffer damage to the spinal column, accounting for 80 percent of all spinal cord injuries. According to Shepherd.org, traffic accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries. Approximately 38 percent of spinal cord injuries are caused by car accidents, motorcycle accidents, and truck accidents. Other frequently-reported causes of spinal cord injuries include:
- Falls (31 percent)
- Violence (14 percent)
- Sports injuries (9 percent), and
- Medical complications (5 percent).
Compensation for Orange County Spinal Cord Injuries
Injuries to the spinal cord can be devastating. Victims may require extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation, suffer from chronic pain for the rest of their lives, and be faced with a life-long disability. The consequences of a spinal cord injury can be financially, physically, and emotionally draining. In California, spinal cord accident victims may be entitled to compensation if another person is responsible for their injury. Compensation is typically paid through an award of compensatory and non-economic damages.
Compensatory damages (also known as economic damages) are awarded to spinal cord injury victims to help with the financial costs that are related to their accident and injury. Damages can be awarded to compensate for any actual present or reasonably anticipated expenses. Examples of compensatory damages can include:
- Medically-necessary assistive devices (e.g., wheelchair)
- Alterations to the home (e.g., purchase of a wheelchair ramp or lift)
- In-home nursing care
- Nursing home facility costs, and
Non-economic damages are awarded to spinal cord injury victims to compensate for injuries that may not have a specific monetary value. These injuries can be difficult to value and, as a result, can vary significantly from case-to-case. Examples of non-economic damages can include:
- Anxiety and depression
- Chronic pain
- Embarrassment, and
- Loss of sexual relations.
Statute of Limitations for Spinal Cord Injury Cases
If you have suffered an injury to your spinal column it is important to speak with an attorney immediately. California limits the amount of time you have to file a claim for damages. If you do not file a claim within two years of the date of your accident, you will be prohibited from getting the money you need to recover.
Extending the Statute of Limitations
There are limited situations when the statute of limitations can be extended. If any of the following extenuating circumstances apply, you may be able to file a claim more than two years after your accident:
- The defendant cannot be located
- The defendant is incarcerated
- The victim is under the age of 18, or
- There is a reasonable delay in the discovery of the injury.
Claims Against the Government Are Accelerated
In some cases, Orange County or a local city government agency will be (at least partly) responsible for your spinal cord injury. In order to recover damages from the government, you must file an administrative claim with the at-fault agency within 180 days of your accident. If the government denies your request for damages, you will have six months to file a formal civil complaint in an Orange County court.
Experienced Orange County Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys
Suffering an injury to the spinal cord can be devastating. Spinal column injuries can affect every aspect of your life, from your ability to work to your ability to play with your children. If you have suffered a spinal cord injury because of an Orange County accident, you may be entitled to compensation. The Orange County personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of John Rapillo can help you get the money you deserve.
Contact us today to request a free consultation with our skilled legal team. We will review the details of your accident, explain your rights as an accident victim, and outline a preliminary strategy for your case. We know that a spinal cord injury can be incredibly expensive, so we offer our services on a contingency fee basis. We do not get paid unless we win. This allows you to focus your financial resources on medical bills and taking care of your family. You have a limited amount of time to act, so do not hesitate to call us for help today.