Spine Injury Attorney helping Williston, Burlington, Vermont and surrounding areas

A spinal cord injury is one of the most catastrophic injuries that a person can suffer. A severe spinal cord injury can leave a person with significant disabilities or total dependence on others for basic tasks of daily living. When a spinal cord injury results from an accident caused by someone else, the injured victim may be entitled to compensation for the losses that can result.

At Lynch Legal Services, PLLC, we know how devastating spinal cord injuries can be for victims and their families. That's why, for 30 years, Vermont spinal cord injury lawyer David Lynch has worked tirelessly to help spinal cord injury victims seek recovery from those responsible for their injuries.

We recognize that hiring an attorney or filing a lawsuit can be intimidating and that the thought of legal conflict can seem stressful. We respect the fact that most people want to resolve problems with as little fuss as possible. But we strongly believe that you shouldn't have to bear the financial consequences of an injury that was caused by someone else. Let our firm advocate for your rights and help you to seek the recovery you deserve.

Contact our firm today for a free and confidential case review and to talk with a compassionate, knowledgeable Vermont spinal cord injury attorney about your rights and options for seeking compensation for your injury and losses.

When Can You File a Personal Injury Claim After a Spinal Cord Injury?

To file a successful personal injury claim after a spinal cord injury, you will need to prove that someone else's acts or omissions caused your injury. This means showing that another party willfully caused the injury or recklessly caused your injury, meaning they consciously disregarded a substantial risk that their actions would lead to you suffering bodily injury.

Most personal injury claims allege that the at-fault party or parties acted negligently. You have to prove that a responsible party owed you a duty of care (such as the care owed by a motorist to others on the road, or the care owed by a physician to a patient), breached that duty, and that the breach was directly responsible for your injury.

Pursuing Full Compensation for Your Spinal Cord Injury

If your spinal cord injury resulted from an accident that was caused by someone else's wrongful actions or inaction, you may be entitled to pursue compensation for the losses that have and will result, such as:

  • Medical treatment, including hospital bills, surgeries, rehabilitation, therapy, pain medication, and medical and mobility equipment you need
  • Costs of personal care, such as home health care services, or the costs to renovate your home or office to accommodate disabilities caused by your injury
  • Lost wages or income due to missed work during your treatment and rehabilitation
  • Lost earning potential, if you cannot return to your old job because of your injury
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment or quality of life, such as an inability to participate in activities you previously enjoyed, or due to increased risk of health complications or reduced life expectancy because of your injury

Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries in Vermont

Any sufficiently violent accident can lead to a spinal cord injury. Some of the most frequent causes of spinal injuries in Vermont include:

  • Car accidents
  • Truck accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Slip and fall or trip and fall accidents
  • Premises liability accidents
  • Medical malpractice

If you or a loved one have suffered a spine injury in one of these or another accident that was caused by someone else, we can help you protect your rights and interests.

Symptoms of A Spinal Cord Injury

A spinal cord injury can result in any number of signs or symptoms, including:

  • Loss of movement
  • Loss of sensation (inability to feel temperature or touch)
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Exaggerated reflexes or spasms
  • Altered sexual function, sensitivity, or fertility
  • Pain or intense stinging sensation
  • Difficulty breathing or coughing

Following an accident, signs that a person may have suffered a spinal cord injury include:

  • Extreme back pain, or feeling of pressure in the head, neck, or back
  • Weakness, lack of coordination, or paralysis
  • Numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation in hands and feet
  • Difficulty with balance and walking
  • Impaired breathing
  • Odd positioning of the neck or back

Treatment for A Spinal Cord Injury

Because damage to spinal cord tissue cannot be repaired with current medical technology, treatment for a spinal cord injury is usually focused on stabilizing your condition, reducing your discomfort and pain, and helping you to relearn skills and regain independence.

Immediately following an injury, treatment can include:

  • Immobilization of your neck and back to prevent further damage and help maintain your ability to breathe.
  • Surgery to remove bone fragments or other objects around the spine, repair herniated or ruptured discs or broken vertebrae, and stabilize your spinal column to prevent pain, further injury, or future deformity.
  • Experimental treatments aimed at reducing inflammation, preventing nerve cell death, and promoting nerve regeneration.

Once a spinal cord injury victim's condition is stabilized, the focus of treatment shifts. Secondary issues arise like providing physical rehabilitation to help a patient regain lost functioning and help maintain their independence. Treatments may include:

  • Medications to help prevent muscle weakness or spasms, respiratory infections or blood clots, and to help with bladder and bowel function or help restore sexual function.
  • Rehabilitation (physical therapy, occupational therapy, recreational therapy, nutrition/diet counseling, and mental health therapy). Initial treatment will be focused on maintaining and strengthening muscle function, relearning fine motor skills, and learning new adaptive techniques to help the patient independently accomplish daily tasks. The patient will be educated on how to prevent complications from the injury and encouraged to take steps to rebuild quality of life by returning to work or school, hobbies and activities, and an independent life.
  • Technological assistance, such as modern wheelchairs that can climb stairs or lift a person up, electrical stimulation devices and robotic gait assistance to help provide lost motor function, and electronic aids such as smart home devices.

Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries come in two basic types: complete and incomplete. A complete injury involves total loss of all motor and sensory function below the level of injury on the spinal cord. In an incomplete injury, the person retains some function below the level of injury, such as being able to move one or both arms and legs or having noticeably more function on one side of the body than the other.

Spinal cord injuries are graded on a letter scale from A to E. This scale is published by the American Spinal Injury Association, and is based on the severity of the injury:

  1. Complete spinal cord injury with no motor or sensory function
  2. Incomplete injury with some sensory function but complete motor function loss
  3. Incomplete injury, but less than half of muscle groups have full range of motion and strength to lift up against the force of gravity
  4. Incomplete injury where more than half of muscle groups have full range of motion and strength to lift up against the force of gravity
  5. Normal sensory and motor function

A spinal cord injury may also be classified as a spinal concussion, which can present many of the same symptoms as a traditional spinal cord injury but may resolve in a few days.

Long-Term Effects of A Spinal Cord Injury

Depending on the severity of your spinal cord injury, you may have to deal with long-term effects and complications from your injury, such as:

  • Difficulty with bladder and bowel control, which can increase your risk of constipation or other GI issues, kidney stones, or urinary tract infections.
  • Increased risk of injury due to a reduced ability to feel pressure, heat, or cold that can lead you to accidentally injure yourself.
  • Cardiovascular problems, including difficulties breathing or clearing your lungs, which can lead to pneumonia and other respiratory diseases and infections. You may also experience problems with blood pressure that can cause deep vein thrombosis, blood clots, or pulmonary embolism.
  • Muscle problems, including loss of strength, or uncontrolled tightening and motion.
  • Limited mobility, which can not only make it harder to complete daily tasks of living but can also put you at risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or obesity due to an increased sedentary lifestyle.
  • Increased pain from the site of injury, as well as pain due to overuse of certain muscle groups.
  • Mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (if your injury was caused by a traumatic accident).

How Long Do You Have to File a Claim for A Spinal Cord Injury in Vermont?

Under Vermont's statute of limitations, you typically have three years from the date that you suffered a spinal cord injury due to someone else's legal fault to file a lawsuit to recover compensation from that party. A minor child who suffers a spinal cord injury typically has three years from his or her 18th birthday to file suit.

If your spinal cord injury was caused by medical malpractice and you do not initially realize that you were injured by malpractice, you have three years from the date of the treatment or two years from the date you discovered (or reasonably should have discovered) that you were injured by malpractice, whichever date is later. However, in no event can you file a lawsuit for medical malpractice more than seven years after the alleged negligent treatment.

If you don't timely file your lawsuit, the court will almost certainly permanently dismiss your case.

Talk to A Vermont Spinal Cord Injury Attorney Now

If you have suffered a spinal cord injury due to someone else's negligent or reckless acts, schedule a free and confidential consultation with a Williston, Vermont spine injury attorney from Lynch Legal Services, PLLC today.

We will discuss your case with you and advise you about your legal rights. Let us help you obtain the recovery you deserve for your injury.