Domingo Garcia understands how a spinal cord injury (SCI) can devastate your life. We know that your SCI may affect everything from your career to your relationships. Furthermore, the cost of medical treatment can have a significant impact on your finances.
For more than 35 years, our attorneys have fought for personal injury clients and their rights. Our Fort Worth spinal cord injury lawyers can help you seek compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. Let us handle your insurance claims or lawsuits so that you can focus on your health and learning to live with your SCI.
What Is a Spinal Cord Injury?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, the spine includes both your spinal cord and vertebral column. The spinal cord is made of tissues, cells, and nerves that send signals throughout the body, while the vertebral column is a layer of bones (vertebrae) that protects the spine.
Spinal cord injuries are not the same as back injuries. Back injuries can damage the vertebral column and soft tissue in the back and spine but leave the spinal cord unharmed. Many back injuries can heal, but when the spinal cord sustains damage, the result is often catastrophic and permanent. Doctors categorize SCIs as:
- Incomplete. Individuals with an incomplete SCI may retain some motor function (movement) and sensory function (feeling) below the injury site. Those with an incomplete SCI may also have more function on one side of the body than the other.
- Complete. Complete spinal cord injuries result in a total loss of movement and feeling below the injury site. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), about half of SCIs are complete.
Health care professionals also classify SCIs based on the parts of the body affected by the injury:
- Paraplegia. Paraplegic injuries result in paralysis in all or part of the legs, trunk, and pelvic organs but do not cause paralysis in the arms and hands.
- Tetraplegia. Also called quadriplegia, this type of injury results in paralysis in the arms, hands, legs, pelvic organs, and trunk.
Spinal Cord Injury Complications
According to the Mayo Clinic, in addition to paralysis, an SCI can cause a range of severe and sometimes permanent complications and health conditions, including:
- Circulatory problems. A spinal injury can result in the inability to regulate blood pressure and body temperature. You may experience low blood pressure when you rise (orthostatic hypotension), a potentially life-threatening spike in blood pressure (autonomic dysreflexia), swelling, blood clots, pulmonary embolus, and deep-vein thrombosis.
- Respiratory issues. An SCI can make breathing and coughing more difficult. As a result, you may have difficulty thoroughly clearing your lungs, which can lead to pneumonia and other lung problems.
- Loss of bowel and bladder control. Due to nerve damage, your body may no longer be able to send signals indicating you need to urinate or defecate. Additionally, changes in bladder control can cause urinary tract infections (UTIs), kidney infections, and kidney and bladder stones.
- Sexual dysfunction. SCI sufferers may experience decreased sexual function or a loss of fertility.
- Muscle and joint problems. Some individuals with SCIs experience muscle spasticity (uncontrolled tightening and movement), joint contractures, soft or limp muscles (flaccidity), and loss of muscle tone.
- Loss of bone density. SCI causes an increased risk of osteoporosis and broken bones (fractures) below the injury site.
- Behavioral changes and depression. Dealing with an SCI and learning to live with a catastrophic injury can cause anxiety, stress, depression, irritability, insomnia, and other changes in behavior and mood.
- An overall decrease in health and wellness. Because a spinal injury limits mobility, you are at risk for health conditions resulting from inactivity, including cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes.
If you suffered a spinal injury because of another party’s negligent, reckless, or wrongful actions, you deserve compensation for your medical treatment and how your injury negatively affects your life. Our Fort Worth spinal cord injury lawyers can help you seek justice and secure the monetary awards you need for your ongoing care.
Spinal Cord Injuries Often Require Costly and Ongoing Medical Treatment
Spinal cord damage is not reversible, and complete SCIs are usually permanent. While some therapies can help patients with an incomplete injury regain some feeling and motor function, treatment usually focuses on preventing further injury, reducing chronic health conditions, and helping you live the most independent, productive life possible.
Common interventions for SCIs include:
- Rehabilitation. According to the Cleveland Clinic, most people with SCI will need some type of physical rehabilitation or therapy. Rehabilitation can help increase strength and mobility in areas with nerve function. Rehabilitation can also help you learn to use wheelchairs and other mobility aids and perform daily living activities (ADLs), such as grooming, dressing, and using the bathroom.
- Surgery. According to the AANS, you may require surgery to help stabilize your spine and prevent further injury. You may also need surgery to relieve pressure caused by a blood clot, herniated disc, or lesion. Additionally, surgery can remove bone fragments and foreign objects compressing the spine.
- Traction and monitoring. The AANS cites traction as a nonsurgical treatment option for some SCIs. Furthermore, the AANS states that SCI sufferers will likely need traditional intensive care unit (ICU) treatment and observation, including stabilizing/monitoring for blood pressure problems, respiratory functioning, cardiovascular functioning, and infection.
- Medical devices. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, SCI sufferers may need to use bladder catheters, feeding tubes, or even a ventilator to assist with breathing.
Johns Hopkins Medicine also cautions that treatment for an SCI often requires long-term hospitalization and a team of interdisciplinary medical specialists. You may need a range of services, including:
- Occupational therapy
- Speech therapy
- Pain management assistance
- Assistance monitoring heart function, blood pressure, and body temperature
- Assistance with monitoring bladder and bowel functioning
- Help controlling muscle spasticity
The cost of treatments combined with other services, such as in-home health care, long-term nursing care, and assistance with ADLs can add up. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), the lifetime costs of an SCI (not including lost wages and productivity) can range from around $1.2 million to $5 million, depending on the severity of the injury and the age of the patient at the time it occurred.
If your injury was not your fault, it is unfair that you should have to shoulder the economic burden of your SCI alone. Our lawyers can investigate the cause of your injury and hold those liable responsible for your damages. We will help you fight for compensation so your treatment does not jeopardize your family’s financial stability.
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injury
The AANS reports that between 250,000 and 450,000 Americans currently live with a spinal cord injury. Additionally, around 17,000 new SCIs occur every year. According to the Cleveland Clinic, most SCIs result from a sudden and traumatic blow. Some of the most common causes of SCIs include:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
The AANS lists motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of SCIs in Americans under age 65. According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), a vehicle accident involving injuries occurs every two minutes on Texas’s roadways. TxDOT reports that more than 500 serious crash injuries occurred in Fort Worth in 2021. During that same year, more than 60 people suffered severe injuries in commercial motor vehicle collisions in Tarrant County.
If you or a loved one were in an accident on Interstate 30, Airport Freeway, Bush Turnpike, or anywhere else in the Fort Worth area, our spinal cord injury lawyers can help. We assist with SCI cases involving:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck and commercial motor vehicle collisions
- Construction vehicles
- Uber and Lyft rideshare accidents
- Bicycle and pedestrian accidents
- Single and multi-vehicle collisions
- Head-on collisions
- Sideswipe and side-impact accidents
- Rear-end collisions
- Accidents involving a drunk driver
- Hit and run accidents
The AANS reports that falls are the primary cause of SCIs in Americans aged 65 and older and a leading cause of spinal cord injuries overall. Our personal injury team works on falls accident cases involving:
- Slip and falls from the same level. According to a study in The Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, falls on the same level account for around 20 percent of fall-related spinal cord injuries. Sometimes, falls on the same level occur due to slips, trips, and stumbles caused by negligent or dangerous property conditions. For example, if you or your loved one fell because of a cracked floorboard, broken tiles, obstructed walkways, or another premises liability issue, the business or residential property owner where your accident occurred may be financially responsible for your SCI.
- Falls from heights. The Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine reports that falls from buildings and down stairs and steps each account for about 16 percent of fall-induced SCIs. Falls from ladders account for another 9 percent. In addition, the publication notes that falls from heights are more likely to be work-related and result in a complete spinal injury.
- Workplace accidents. The National Safety Council (NSC) states that falls, slips, and trips are among the leading causes of work injuries. Contact with objects and equipment and vehicle accidents are the fourth and fifth most prevalent causes of work injuries, respectively. These types of accidents can also cause an SCI. If your injury occurred at work, our Fort Worth attorneys can help you explore your options for pursuing compensation from a non-subscriber employer or a liable third party.
- Construction accidents. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), falls, slips, and trips are responsible for 32 percent of nonfatal construction accident injuries and nearly 40 percent of construction accident deaths. In addition to falls, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) lists struck by/against accidents and caught in/between accidents as other leading causes of fatal and severe construction injuries. We can assist with injuries and SCIs stemming from these and other construction-related incidents.
Sports and Recreation
The journal Neurologic Clinics reports that around 9 percent of spinal cord injuries result from sports/recreation accidents. Activities with the highest risk for catastrophic SCIs include football, ice hockey, wrestling, diving, skiing, snowboarding, and cheerleading.
Who Is Financially Responsible for Your SCI?
Liability for your spinal cord injury depends on the type of accident you suffered and the specific circumstances involved. Potentially liable parties may include:
- A driver
- A commercial vehicle operator
- A government or private roadway owner
- A vehicle or auto parts manufacturer
- A residential property owner
- A government or commercial property owner
- The owner of a sports/recreation complex
- A non-subscriber employer
- A business or property manager
- An electrician, plumber, roofer, or another subcontractor
- An architect/designer
- An equipment manufacturer/supplier (including workplace equipment, construction equipment, and sports equipment)
Proving that another party’s actions led to your injury and resulting losses requires constructing a case based on the four elements of negligence: duty, breach, causation, and damages. Let’s examine each element using the example of a vehicle accident caused by a drunk driver:
- Duty. This element involves proving that the party who hurt you owed you a legal duty of care. All drivers in Texas must obey the laws outlined in Texas Transportation Code Chapter 545 and exercise a duty of care when behind the wheel to avoid injury to themselves or others.
- Breach. In this example, our lawyers will prove that the driver breached the duty of care by driving under the influence of alcohol, which is illegal under Texas Penal Code § Sec. 49.04.
- Causation. Our attorneys will then draw a line showing that the driver’s intoxication caused them to travel in the wrong lane, which in turn caused them to collide head-on into your vehicle, resulting in your SCI.
- Damages. Finally, our lawyers will show that your SCI led to monetary damages and pain and suffering.
As with liability, the specific evidence we use to build your case will vary depending on the type of accident that caused your SCI but may include:
- Police reports
- Workplace incident reports
- Surveillance footage or other available videos
- Medical records
- Testimony from accident reconstruction specialists
- Physical data from the site of your accident
- Eyewitness statements
- Evidence of vehicle or property damage
- Bills, receipts, and other proof of financial losses
Texas Personal Injury Damages
Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Chapter 41 outlines the damages you can pursue for a personal injury. Our Fort Worth spinal cord injury lawyers will help you fight for fair compensation under the law, which may include:
- Current and future medical bills. We can help you seek payment for medical services you have already received and a sum to pay for future necessary medical care and treatments. Damages may include the cost of ambulance transportation, emergency department bills, doctor and hospital fees, surgeries and medical procedures, prescription drugs, medical devices and mobility aids, physical therapy, rehabilitation, long-term care services, and lifecare costs.
- Pain and suffering. SCIs are devastating and can affect nearly every area of your life, from your ability to earn a living to your interactions with family and friends. You deserve awards for how your injury affects you physically, emotionally, and mentally, and for how your SCI reduces your overall quality of life. Pain and suffering damages, also called noneconomic damages, provide monetary compensation for intangible losses, including physical and chronic pain, anxiety, stress, mental anguish, depression, loss of mobility and paralysis, loss of bodily function, and loss of enjoyment of life.
- Lost wages, earnings, and benefits. According to the NSCISC, only around 20 percent of individuals with an SCI are employed a year post-injury. That figure increases to around 30 percent at the four-year post-injury mark. Unfortunately, many SCI sufferers will never return to the workforce or return to the same job as before their injury. Our attorneys can help you recover lost earnings and compensation for the loss of your future earning capacity, including the value of your wages, bonuses, and benefits.
- Vehicle and personal property damages. If your SCI resulted from a motor vehicle accident, we can recover the cost of repairing your car, truck, or motorcycle. We can also seek compensation for other damaged property, including personal tools, equipment, safety gear, watches, jewelry, and electronics.
- Services and accommodations. Because of your SCI, you may need assistance with ADLs and household tasks, including cooking, cleaning, and transportation services. You may also need to modify your home or vehicle to include lifts, railings, ramps, and other accommodations. We can help you recover these costs and other miscellaneous expenses related to your injury.
- Wrongful death damages. You may qualify for wrongful death compensation if your loved one suffered a fatal spinal cord injury. According to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Chapter 71, the surviving spouse, parents, or children of a deceased party can take legal action against those responsible for their loved one’s fatal injury. Wrongful death damages may include funeral and burial expenses, medical expenses, and the deceased’s lost income, including lost future inheritance. Survivors can also pursue awards for their mental pain and suffering and the loss of the deceased’s care, love, and guidance.
Successful Settlements and Verdicts
Attorney Domingo Garcia and his team focus on serving personal injury clients and helping them get the most out of their insurance claims or lawsuits. We have successfully secured multi-million dollar awards for plaintiffs seeking compensation for spinal injuries. Our case results include:
- A $5.5 million settlement for a worker who suffered a paraplegic injury due to a failure to cover a roof opening
- A $5 million settlement for a client who sustained a paraplegic injury caused by dangerous scaffolding
- A $3.75 million settlement for a client who suffered a paraplegic injury due to improper guardrail maintenance
- A $1 million settlement for a client who sustained a lumbar fracture in a commercial motor vehicle accident
Our Fort Worth spinal cord injury lawyers may be able to secure awards via an insurance claim or out-of-court settlement. However, we will not back down from taking your case to trial if necessary.
How Long do You Have to Pursue a Spinal Cord Injury Claim?
According to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16.003, you have two years from when your SCI occurred to file a personal injury lawsuit. The statute of limitations also allows two years to sue for wrongful death. It is important to note that the clock starts when your loved one’s fatal accident happened, not at their time of death.
If you do not file your case before time runs out, the court will probably dismiss your case, and you will not be able to pursue compensation. Likewise, waiting until the statute expires to pursue an insurance settlement may reduce your bargaining power and lead to a denied claim or lesser payout.
Benefits of Working With Our Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers
You and your family have enough to worry about. Let our team handle your legal problems or insurance burden so that you can spend your time and energy coping with your injury and resulting life changes. Our Fort Worth SCI attorneys can:
- Ensure fair financial recovery. Damages stemming from a spinal cord injury can be significant and ongoing. Our lawyers will work to identify and pursue every penny owed to you. This may include working with medical professionals, vocational experts, and economists to better understand your injuries and their long-term financial implications.
- Build a strong case rooted in the law. Cases involving catastrophic injuries can be complex. We have decades of experience assisting injury clients, and we can put our knowledge of state and federal law to work for you.
- Serve as your voice. We will handle meetings, emails, and phone calls with insurance agents and opposing attorneys. During negotiations, we will fight aggressively to secure the most advantageous settlement possible for your SCI. We will also provide you with frequent case updates.
- Charge nothing upfront. Our firm takes cases on contingency, meaning we do not charge you fees until and unless we win your case.
Contact Domingo Garcia About Your Spinal Cord Injury
Domingo Garcia can help you get started on your SCI case with a free consultation. Contact us to learn more and connect with a Fort Worth spinal cord injury lawyer today.