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A spinal cord injury can permanently change the entire course of your life. Not only can you find yourself facing lifelong medical bills related to your injuries, you may also find yourself with long-term limitations on the activities you can participate in and the things you can do with friends and family members.

If you suffered spinal cord injuries in Fresno due to someone else’s negligence, you may seek compensation for those injuries. Contact our Fresno spinal cord injury lawyers the May Firm at (559) 385-2090 to learn more about your legal right to compensation following a spinal cord injury.

Complete Versus Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries:The Limitations You May Face

Spinal cord injuries can cause severe complications in multiple areas of your life. The severity of those limitations, however, will depend on the extent of your injuries. Victims with complete versus incomplete spinal cord injuries may have very different limitations.

Table of Contents

Complete Spinal Cord Injuries

The spinal cord delivers messages from the brain to the rest of the body and from the rest of the body back to the brain. It helps transmit sensations, including heat, cold, and pain as well as the sense of touch, and sends back messages concerning movement. In a complete spinal cord injury, the spinal cord severs completely at the site of the injury. The victim thus suffers a complete loss of sensation, movement, and function below the site of that injury.

When the injury occurs low on the spinal cord, the victim may suffer paralysis from the waist down. The victim’s legs may no longer move at their command, but they may have full function in their hands and arms. They may also experience some loss of some bladder and bowel function or some sexual dysfunction because of the injury.

On the other hand, if the injury occurs high on the spinal cord, the victim may experience loss of function in the hands and arms and legs. They may also struggle with decreased function in all organs below the injury site, including the lungs, the stomach, and the heart. Victims with tetraplegia, or paralysis that occurs high on the spinal cord and impacts all organs, may suffer from many ongoing changes and need a great deal of assistance to go about their days following their injury.

Complete spinal cord injuries can leave many impacts on the victim’s life. A complete spinal cord injury may lead to:

  • Changed professional capability. A victim who formerly worked in a highly physical profession may have trouble going back to work at all after a complete spinal cord injury. For example, a construction worker who used to walk across rooftops or install heavy fittings may no longer work in their former profession at all. Similarly, someone who used to work in a warehouse may no longer have the capacity to handle the tasks that once made up their day. Many spinal cord injury victims find that they need to go back to school, pursue additional certifications, or consider a significant change of profession following their injuries. Even those who worked at a desk job may have a hard time returning to their former professional tasks, especially if they suffered a spinal cord injury that impacted their arms and hands as well as their lower body.
  • Loss of hobbies and activities that the victim once enjoyed. Depending on the extent of their spinal cord injury, a victim may lose the ability to participate in many of the activities they once enjoyed. A victim with a low spinal cord injury, for example, may no longer have the ability to participate in sports or to go for a run. With high spinal cord injuries, the victim may lose the ability to play video games, engage in creative pursuits, or even play board or card games with friends without assistance. Spinal cord injury victims may need to permanently adapt their plans and interests to meet their new needs and limitations.
  • Need for ongoing assistance. Many spinal cord injury victims, especially those who suffer injuries high on the spinal cord, may struggle with day-to-day tasks, including self-care tasks like bathing, shaving, or brushing their teeth. They may have trouble cooking, cleaning, or taking care of their home and yard. With occupational therapy, some victims may regain the capacity to take on some of these tasks on their own. Others, however, may need in-home support for the rest of their lives.
  • Ongoing medical bills. In addition to the other complications associated with complete spinal cord injury, victims who suffer this type of injury can expect ongoing medical bills related to the injury for the rest of their lives. They may require the aid of a wheelchair, often a power wheelchair, to get around. Many victims receive ongoing physical therapy to help prevent muscle atrophy and maintain as much organ function as possible. Victims with complete spinal cord injuries may also require the assistance of in-home caregivers or visits from home health professionals, or need to follow up with their doctors regularly, especially in the years immediately following the accident. The bills for this care can prove financially catastrophic, especially if the victim does not have adequate insurance or cannot work following the accident.

Complete spinal cord injuries do not heal, as the spinal cord cannot regenerate. Victims who suffer a complete spinal cord injury will usually live with the associated paralysis and loss of function for the rest of their lives.

Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury

Unlike complete spinal cord injuries, when a victim suffers an incomplete spinal cord injury, the spinal cord does not sever completely. Incomplete spinal cord injuries can still lead to significant loss of mobility and function below the site of the injury. Many victims struggle with ongoing mobility limitations or may have trouble with lost bladder and/or bowel function, or loss of function in organs below the injury site.

Limitations associated with incomplete spinal cord injury. Victims with incomplete spinal cord injuries may suffer some of the same basic limitations as victims with complete spinal cord injuries. However, depending on the extent of the injuries, they may have minimal loss of function. Some victims of incomplete spinal cord injuries, for example, may still walk with the aid of a cane or crutches and braces. Others may retain some hand and arm function.

Incomplete spinal cord injury victims experience an array of symptoms depending on the severity of the injury. Many discover that they regain some function over time, which can improve overall outlook and make it easier for them to return to their usual job tasks or hobbies. However, it can take six months or more after the accident before doctors can accurately predict a victim’s prognosis. In the meantime, you may face a long road to recovery.

Determining Liability Following a Fresno Spinal Cord Injury

Following a spinal cord injury, you may want to know who caused your injuries so that you can file a claim against them. Spinal cord injuries can occur in slip and fall accidents, construction accidents, and auto accidents. To determine who bears liability for your accident, an experienced Fresno attorney will ask: 

Who Bore A Duty Of Care To You At The Time Of The Fresno Spinal Cord Injury?

To have grounds for a Fresno spinal cord injury claim, you must first establish who bore a duty of care to you at the time of the accident: that is, who had some responsibility to you. If you suffered injuries in a Fresno auto accident, for example, you may establish that the other drivers on the road bore a duty of care to you at the time of the accident, which they violated in some way. If you suffered injuries in a slip and fall accident, you may establish that the owner of the premises bore a duty of care to you at the time of the accident.

How Did The Liable Party Violate That Duty Of Care To You At The Time Of The Fresno Spinal Cord Injury?

Consider, for example, an auto accident.

A driver might violate their duty of care to you by:

  • Drinking and driving;
  • Driving while distracted;
  • Ignoring the rules of the road, including speeding, running red lights or stop signs, or failing to yield; or
  • Otherwise driving in an unsafe manner.

In a slip and fall accident, the premises owner might violate that duty of care to you by failing to properly clean up a spill or by putting out a cord in a place that could trip someone. The premises owner might also bear liability if they failed to properly maintain their stairs or walkways, which therefore presented a fall hazard for visitors.

How Did That Violation Lead To Your Fresno Spinal Cord Injury?

To establish grounds for a Fresno spinal cord injury claim, you will need to show that the liable party violated their duty of care to you and that their violation caused your injuries. For example, a speeding driver who zipped down the road beside you might have caused you to become distracted and drive into a ditch, but you may still bear primary liability for injuries sustained due to your own inattention. On the other hand, if that driver struck your vehicle and pushed your car into the ditch, the speeding driver will likely bear liability for your injuries.

How Much Compensation Should You Expect After a Fresno Accident Resulting in a Spinal Cord Injury?

If you suffered a spinal cord injury in a Fresno accident, compensation may top your list of concerns. No attorney can tell you for certain how much compensation you will receive for your injuries, but if you work with an attorney they can come up with a good estimate based on the particular circumstances of your accident. The compensation you may expect to receive will depend on:

Who caused your accident? The party that caused your accident may carry an insurance policy designed to protect any victims who suffer injuries due to that party’s negligence. Fresno drivers, for example, are required to carry auto insurance that will pay for injuries you suffered in a car accident. Insurance policies, however, may limit how much compensation you can ultimately receive for your injuries.

If multiple parties contributed to your accident, you may have grounds to file a claim for compensation against each party that shares liability for your injuries. An attorney can help you identify all parties that contributed to your accident, allowing you to file a Fresno spinal cord injury claim against each one.

How much are your medical bills? Generally, your medical expenses will form the foundation of your spinal cord injury claim. As a victim with a spinal cord injury, especially if you have a complete spinal cord injury, you may have extensive medical bills related to the accident.

Carefully keep track of all medical bills associated with your accident, including:

  • Your ambulance trip to the hospital;
  • Care in the emergency room;
  • Hospitalization;
  • Surgeries or procedures related to your injuries;
  • A stay in a long-term care facility, where you may regain some strength or learn to function within your limitations;
  • Long-term physical therapy;
  • Occupational therapy to help you learn how to cope with your new injuries;
  • Psychological therapy that will help you move on following your accident;
  • In-home care, if needed; and
  • The cost of your wheelchair and other assistive devices, if needed.

What other expenses did you face because of your accident? As the victim of a spinal cord injury, you may face significant non-medical expenses as you work to rebuild your life. Many victims, for example, must find ways to renovate their homes to allow them to live as independently as possible given their injuries. Others may need specially modified vehicles; vehicles with hand controls, for example, if they lose function below the waist.

Talk to your attorney about expenses associated with renovating your house after your accident, including:

  • Durable medical equipment, like a hospital bed or pulleys, that make it easier for you to get in and out of bed or to get around your home;
  • Widened doorways;
  • Lowered countertops in the kitchen;
  • Wheelchair ramps for access to your home; and
  • Modifications to your bathroom to improve independence and accessibility.

Even victims with incomplete spinal cord injuries may need to make some modifications to their homes to allow them to be as independent as possible.

How much time did you have to miss at work due to your injuries? Did you have to change professions or look for new alternatives to work? Spinal cord injuries can make it very difficult for victims to go back to work. Many victims struggle with ongoing limitations associated with their injuries, making it impossible to complete their job duties. Even if you can ultimately go back to work for your former employer, you may need to miss a great deal of work during your recovery.

If you can return to work despite your limitations, you may choose to claim the wages you lost during your time away from work as part of your Fresno spinal cord injury claim. You may also want to calculate hours you lost due to limited time at work after your return or a step down to a lesser position at work because you can no longer complete your former job duties. If you cannot return to work, you can include a claim for lost earning potential: the lost wages you could have received, had you not suffered severe injuries. An attorney can help you determine how to calculate your lost earning potential.

What suffering did you experience as a result of your injuries? The insurance company that is responsible for compensating you for your accident cannot easily quantify suffering. Work with your spinal cord injury attorney in Fresno to get a better idea of how to calculate pain and suffering and how your unique challenges may impact your right to compensation following a spinal cord injury.

Community Involvement

At The May Firm we strive to be involved and connected to our local community. For example, this past holiday season we organized bicycle and Christmas tree giveaways for individuals in our community. Our goal is to be a positive force for good in the local community and give back in some small measure to those we can serve. We receive satisfaction and joy from serving our clients and will continue to look for ways to be of assistance to the community as a whole. We receive positive energy from the community when we are involved.

We have listed a few of the local organizations we support and look forward to growing our outreach in the future. If you have any suggestions for ways we can be of service or support, please reach out to us.

Where Compassion Meets Experience

We take pride in working hard for each of our valued clients and will help you recover from your injuries and losses, including lost wages, mental anguish, future earning potential, disability or continued health care needs and lost or damaged property.

Our Fresno injury lawyers stay well-informed and up-to-date on all applicable legal changes, so you can be confident that you will always receive relevant, current legal advice.

If you have suffered a personal injury or are a victim of an accident that is not your at fault for, contact our award winning Fresno attorneys 24/7 to schedule your free case consultation. You can also call our Fresno office at 1-(559)-385-2090. Let us be your personal injury and accident advocate.

“My number one goal is to help others. When you step foot into our firm, you’ll be treated like family, period.”
Robert May, Attorney | Founder

Do You Need a Fresno Spinal Cord Injury Attorney?

If you suffered spinal cord injuries in Fresno due to the negligence of another party, you may deserve compensation for your injuries. Contact The May Firm today at (559) 385-2090 for a free consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers provided by Fresno Spinal Cord Injury courtesy of The May Firm
to some frequently asked questions we receive from clients.

Legally, you have until the statute of limitations – the law that sets time limits for all civil lawsuits – runs out to file your spinal cord injury claim. However, the law includes several exceptions that may extend the time that you have to file your claim. For example, if a minor suffers a spinal cord injury, the clock may not start counting down on the statute of limitations until the minor reaches adulthood.

If you did not discover the full extent of your spinal cord injury or the other injuries you suffered in your accident for some time, the clock may not start until you discover all of your injuries. On the other hand, if you suffered injuries due to a government entity’s negligence, you may have less time to file your Fresno spinal cord injury claim. Talk to an attorney about how long you have to file a claim after your specific Fresno spinal cord injury.

You have a lot on your plate as you recover from your spinal cord injury. Getting in touch with an attorney may not make the top of your list right away, especially if you have not yet determined the full extent of your injuries or you have not seen the first of your medical bills. However, get in touch with a Fresno spinal cord injury attorney as soon after your accident as possible.

Depending on the circumstances that led to your accident, you may want the attorney to begin the investigation quickly. Some evidence can disappear with time. For example, if you suffered injuries in an auto accident, you may want your attorney to have a chance to take a look at the scene of the accident or send in an expert witness to evaluate the damage to both vehicles before they get repaired. If you suffered spinal cord injuries in a fall down a flight of poorly maintained stairs, you may want your attorney to begin that investigation before the premises owner has a chance to repair them.

Contacting an attorney soon after your accident will also ensure that you have access to quality legal advice that can help you determine how to navigate all the details of your claim. Your attorney may give you advice about what you can reasonably post on social media, how you should handle questions from investigators or the insurance company, and what you need to know about potential settlement offers.

Shortly after your spinal cord injury, you may get a call from the insurance company that covers the liable party. The insurance adjuster may express their sympathies and make you a settlement offer. As part of the insurance adjuster’s job, they will generally try to make that offer sound tempting.

A quick settlement would put cash in your hands fast, which you could use to pay your medical bills or to support you until you get back on your feet. And the adjuster may give you only a limited amount of time to accept the offer before the insurance company rescinds that offer, and you may worry that if they take it back, you may not receive a better one.

The more tempting the offer sounds, the more important it is that you talk to an experienced Fresno spinal cord injury attorney before accepting it. Most of the time, the insurance company’s first settlement offer does not reflect the full compensation you deserve for your injuries. If you accept that first offer, you will be required to sign an agreement that prevents you from seeking additional compensation from that party, which may limit the funds you ultimately receive for your injuries. Instead, let an attorney give you a clear idea of how much compensation you really deserve. An attorney can also advise you about whether to accept a particular settlement offer based on the circumstances.

You already have substantial medical bills to deal with, and your doctor may have let you know that you can expect many of those bills to continue for the rest of your life. Hiring a Fresno spinal cord injury attorney sounds expensive. Can you really afford one?

Instead, you should ask yourself: “Can I afford not to have an experienced Fresno spinal cord injury attorney on my side?”

Working with an attorney can increase the odds that the insurance company that covers the liable party, or the liable party themselves, will provide as much compensation as you deserve for your injuries. Not only that, an attorney can provide you with critical advice as you navigate your claim.

Hiring our Fresno spinal cord injury attorneys will cost you nothing.

Our Fresno spinal cord injury attorneys will start with a free case review: a chance for the attorney to go over the circumstances that led to your accident and provide you with an assessment of the compensation you should likely expect for your injuries.

If we can take your case, our Fresno spinal cord injury lawyers do so on a contingency fee basis. This means that you do not pay upfront for legal services. Instead, you issue payment to your lawyer out of your Fresno spinal cord injury claim compensation once you receive it. For many victims who have suffered serious spinal cord injuries, this can make legal support more affordable than it first seemed.

It can take time to settle a Fresno spinal cord injury claim, especially in the case of a severe injury like a spinal cord injury. In the first year after a spinal cord injury alone, you may accumulate as much as a million dollars in medical expenses. Your lost wages and pain and suffering may further increase the value of your claim. Unfortunately, many insurance companies will fight harder to minimize compensation when they are dealing with a victim with severe injuries and a high-value case.

You can expect several aspects of your claim to determine the time it takes to settle your claim and get the funds in hand. Your attorney can talk to you about how long you can expect your particular case may take, although the timing is generally dependent on the other party’s willingness to negotiate. Once you settle your claim or win your case in court, the liable party generally has 30 days to issue payment.

Your attorney may recommend waiting to settle your claim until you have a decent idea of how fully you will recover, especially in the case of incomplete spinal cord injuries. In the immediate aftermath of a spinal cord injury, your doctor may not accurately predict how fully you will ultimately recover from your injuries. You may have a great deal of swelling and trauma throughout your body, not just from the spinal cord injury itself, but from other associated trauma. As a result, it can take up to six months for your doctors to fully assess the extent of your injuries and how much movement you will likely regain over time. At that time, your doctors may make a more accurate assessment of your eventual capability as well as how much you will likely face in medical expenses related to your injuries.

You may need to go through multiple rounds of negotiations. Especially if you have asked for a large amount of compensation for your injuries, you may need to go through several rounds of negotiations before you arrive at an agreement that fits both what you deserve and what the insurance company is willing to pay out. The more intensive the negotiations, generally the longer it takes to settle a claim.

If you have to take your claim to court, it can extend the time needed to receive compensation. If you need to take your claim to court, you may need to wait for a court date and get through a trial to receive compensation for your injuries. The court may also ask you to sit down with a mediator before your official court date.

Most spinal cord injury claims settle out of court. The insurance company that covers the liable party understands the expense associated with a court battle, especially if it gets drawn out. Ultimately, the insurance company may end up paying out more for a trial than if you can reach an agreement out of court.

As a result, the insurance company will likely try to reach an agreement with you without having to take your claim before a judge or jury. However, in some cases, you may not agree with the liable party, especially in the case of disputed liability. If you do have to take your claim to court, having an experienced Fresno injury attorney on your side can improve the outcome of your claim.

Call Us for a Free Consultation

Contact us to get started. It is important to have the proper legal representation on your side if you’re involved in a motorcycle crash. Often wrongful blame is placed on the rider in a multi-vehicle collision due to the increased risk that comes with riding a motorcycle. Insurance companies are reluctant to side with the motorcyclist and oftentimes will attempt to place the full or partial blame on them. Don’t accept that blame and the legal repercussions that come with it. Call (866) 619-6679 to schedule a free consultation with our award-winning motorcycle accident lawyers. We’ll help determine the viability of your case based on your testimony and help you determine the best way to proceed. Working on a contingency fee means our lawyers are only compensated when your case or settlement is won, and our extensive experience and case history allow us to settle most claims out of court, giving you a faster resolution to your case and allowing you to focus on your recovery process. We factor in every possible expense when building your settlement: Medical bills, wage loss, property damage, and emotional suffering are all considered. Our goal is to help you put your life back in order to the best of our ability.
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