Spinal Cord Injuries
It is extremely important to develop appropriate testimony regarding a spinal cord injury. Because certain muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, bones, discs and other structures can be involved, care must be given to establish what the actual injury involves. If paralysis is involved, simple muscle evaluation and/or vertebral level examination can determine at which level the injury has occurred. There are, of course, anatomical anomalies where each person might be a little different than the next person. By and large, though, anatomy is consistent in most cases. It can be confusing to an attorney if he is not familiar with both neurologic injury and orthopedic injury. This is because the level of orthopedic injury is very frequently different from the neurologic injury. For the most part, treating physicians will often use the level of the neurologic injury in their report but that could be misleading. Another problem in adequately describing the level of injury is that the level at which voluntary function of muscles has been lost may not coincide exactly with the level at which there is sensory loss. The experienced attorney will make sure that all physicians are using the same method of describing the injury or at least are able to distinguish between different results that may well mean the very same thing.
An attorney should also make sure there was no aggravation of injury during the post accident rescue or treatment phase to determine if there might be a separate claim for medical malpractice. If there is enough insurance coverage just to present an automobile accident claim, there might not be any reason to try to pursue a malpractice claim since the injuries sustained as a result of an automobile accident may include subsequent medical malpractice. Most experts agree that most improvement regarding serious spinal cord injuries occurs in the first six months after the accident. Thereafter, improvement will likely be in small increments.
In serious spinal cord injury the normal life expectancy of the injured client will likely be shortened. Expert testimony will be required to assess how the life expectancy will be compromised because of the injury. If the injury to the spinal cord is low enough it might not affect the respiratory system therefore allowing for a longer life expectancy than otherwise might occur. In any event, a life care planner, along with appropriate medical experts will need to determine the future medical care required, orthoses, prostheses, assistive devices, ambulation devices, transportation expenses, vehicle expense, physical therapy, occupational therapy, vocational rehabilitation, medical supplies and equipment, medications, nursing and assistant nursing help, living arrangements, home modifications, psychological counseling, and other expenses attendant with serious spinal cord injury.
Spinal cord injury cases require special time and attention from an attorney experienced in these types of cases. First and foremost, the injured party should be treated with the correct group of physicians and medical professionals. From a legal standpoint, the attorney would need to ensure that all appropriate coverage has been investigated and all available insurance coverage is contemplated if there is a settlement of the case.