Auto accidents are the leading cause of paralysis among adults, creating a significant financial burden in the form of medical expenses, loss of earning capacity and dependency on governmental assistance. If you have been paralyzed as the result of a car accident caused by another driver's negligence, learn how to protect your right to compensation.
Types of Paralysis
Paralysis is simply the inability to move parts of the body. Car accidents typically lead to paralysis via damage to the spinal cord. There are four main types of paralysis:
- Paraplegia: Paralysis of the areas of the body that are below the waist, affecting your limbs as well as the bowels and sex organs
- Quadriplegia or tetraplegia: Paralysis of all parts of the body below the neck, including the torso and limbs
- Monoplegia: Paralysis that affects only one area of the body, such as an arm or leg
- Hemiplegia: Paralysis affecting an arm and a leg on the same side of the body
Unfortunately, paralysis is a permanent disability. Currently, there is no cure, but there are treatments that can help you learn to manage specific aspects of your condition.
Depending upon the type of paralysis you have been diagnosed with, your care provider might recommend:
- Using braces, wheelchairs, and other assistive devices
- Using a ventilator for assisting breathing
- Emptying the bladder via a catheter
- Adapting the controls of your car so you can resume driving
- Using voice-activated computers for work, entertainment, and communication with others
- Modifying different aspects of your home to create an accessible environment, such as adding wheelchair ramps and voice-activated security systems
- Meeting with a physical therapist to develop an exercise plan to strengthen your muscles
- Taking medication to cope with neuropathic pain
- Using muscle relaxers to reduce painful muscle spasms
- Addressing the risk of blood clots with blood thinners
- Receiving counseling to address the emotional effects of your condition, such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression
Paralysis will often qualify you for benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Medicare, and Medicaid in addition to assistance from community organizations dedicated to helping the disabled. Regardless, the financial costs associated with this type of injury can be substantial.
If your paralysis is the result of a car, motorcycle or truck accident by another driver's negligence, a personal injury claim may alleviate some of your financial burden. You can seek compensation for:
- Medical expenses, including care, immediately following the accident and any anticipated future medical needs that are related to your disability
- Loss of income immediately following the accident
- Loss of future earning potential
- Pain and suffering, including the emotional trauma associated with adjusting to your paralysis
- Assistance with the daily activities of life, including in-home care, food preparation, transportation and other similar aid
Settlements in cases involving children and young adults are often the highest, due to the impact age has on anticipated future medical costs, the value of lost earning potential and the cost of future daily life care.
If you were partially at fault for the accident that caused your injuries, you are still eligible for compensation. However, any settlement you receive will be reduced to account for your own liability in the accident.
In cases where a person’s paralysis is also accompanied by cognitive limitations, such as those caused by a traumatic brain injury, a representative or guardian can initiate the claim on behalf of the injured individual.
The Value of Skilled Legal Representation
Because of the high costs associated with paralysis, it is vital that you seek legal representation as soon as possible. Insurance companies are focused on maintaining their profit margins, even if it means offering a settlement that's much less than what is needed to protect the financial future of the injured party and his or her family.
A skilled personal injury attorney can put together the necessary evidence to support the claim. The experienced personal injury lawyer can also then prove to the insurance company the need to pay for all the losses an injured person has suffered. Finally, if possible the careful practitioner will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to maximize the amount of money the insurance company will have to pay for the injuries caused by its insured driver. An injured person should know that personal injury cases are handled by personal injury lawyers on a contingency fee basis. This means there is no money paid up front. The lawyer is paid out of the money recovered in a settlement or a judgment provided to the injured party. You will not be responsible for any up front cost to prepare your case. You need to worry about getting better and the lawyer will handle the dispute with the other party and the insurance company.
Inland Empire Law Group's legal team is committed to helping California residents get the compensation they need to move forward with their lives following a serious car, motorcycle or truck accident. Contact us today at 909-481-0100 to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review. Appointments are available at both our Rancho Cucamonga and Victorville offices.