Spinal cord injuries can have life-altering consequences. If your injury is the result of a healthcare provider's negligence, filing a malpractice claim can help ensure that you have access to the funds necessary for your future care needs.
About Spinal Cord Injuries
A spinal cord injury involves damage to any portion of the spinal cord or the nerves at the end of the spinal canal. Treatment for spinal cord injuries continues to improve, but this type of injury has the potential to affect nearly every aspect of daily life. A spinal cord injury can cause:
- Loss of movement below the affected area
- Muscle weakness
- Exaggerated reflexes or muscle spasms
- Loss of sexual function
- Inability to control bladder and bowels
- Difficulty breathing or coughing
- Dangerous blood clots
Depending on the severity of the spinal cord injury, a person may no longer be able to work or live independently. In the most severe cases, patients require 24/7 care.
How Spinal Cord Injuries Constitute Malpractice
Although the majority of spinal cord injuries are the result of car accidents or falls, these injuries can also occur due to medical malpractice. The following are examples of how a spinal cord injury can constitute malpractice:
Failure to diagnose spinal cord impingement or abscess.
In patients with serious back pain, CT scans, MRIs, and X-rays should be used to confirm the diagnosis. If these tests are not done and the spinal cord impingement or abscess is not diagnosed promptly, permanent disability can result.
Emergency room mistakes.
When someone has been injured in an accident, first responders must take care to stabilize the head and neck during transport. Failing to do so can create a spinal cord injury that would not have otherwise occurred.
Incorrectly administered anesthesia during a surgical procedure can cause an epidural hematoma that can result in a spinal cord injury.
Failing to position a patient properly, not monitoring a patient's vital signs, or incorrectly performing a surgery can damage the spinal cord.
Mistakes in chiropractic care.
Unsafe chiropractic adjustments can cause permanent damage to the spinal cord.
Proving a Malpractice Claim
To have a successful medical malpractice claim, you must be able to prove duty, breach of duty, damages, and causation:
- Duty means the defendant was caring for you in a professional capacity.
- Breach of duty means the defendant's actions were outside the accepted standard of care for your condition, whether by accident or the result of a deliberate mistake.
- Damages means you've suffered financial losses due to the defendant's actions such as medical expenses and lost wages.
- Causation means your damages could only have been caused by the malpractice action. This means, you must be able to prove your spinal cord injury was not caused by some other outside factor.
Louisiana has a one-year statute of limitations for spinal injury malpractice claims. If you do not file within the timeframe required by the state's statute of limitations law, your case will be dismissed.
What Your Settlement Can Include
A spinal injury medical malpractice settlement typically includes compensation for the following types of damages:
- Medical costs from immediate treatment related to the malpractice action
- Anticipated future medical needs such as the cost of home healthcare or placement in a nursing home
- Lost wages from the immediate recovery period
- Loss of future earning potential, if you are no longer able to work due to your spinal cord injury
- Pain and suffering, including both physical pain and the emotional trauma associated with your disability
Damages are proven by submitting copies of bills you've already received and providing expert testimony to estimate how the injury will affect your future expenses.
How Neblett, Beard & Arsenault Can Help
Spinal cord injuries can create significant financial burdens, which means you must do everything possible to protect your right to a fair settlement. An experienced attorney can document your damages, locate relevant experts to testify, and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. Contact us online or call our office directly at 318.588.6303 to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review with the legal team at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault.