Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) leave a significant impact on the lives of those affected, from the injured people to their families. Most SCIs result from vertebral column trauma from motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, falls, or even acts of violence. Since the spinal cord is the sensory and motor pathway for communication between the brain and the rest of the body and vice-versa, an injury to this part of the body can cause catastrophic life changes.
When another person or company’s negligence caused your spinal cord injury, you can hold them liable for the enormous economic damages and your pain and suffering. The money you get from taking legal action will not restore your ability to walk. But it can pay for mobility devices, home modifications, personal attendants, medical and physical therapy, job retraining, and other goods and services that can make you as independent as possible.
The hard-working, compassionate Hackensack spinal cord injury lawyer Reinartz Law Firm can help you recover the compensation you need to treat your injuries and regain as much independence as your circumstances allow. Call us today to get your consultation with our personal injury lawyers.
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Why Choose Reinartz Law Firm?
At Reinartz Law Firm, our mission is all about you.
In every case with every client, we commit to:
- Vigorously fight for legal rights
- Achieve the best possible result
- Provide the highest levels of personalized care and attention
You won’t be treated simply like another number when you choose our firm. Our compassionate Hackensack spinal cord injury attorneys know the uphill battles and physical, emotional, and financial struggles you face. We know what your claim is worth and will stop at nothing in pursuit of full and fair compensation. In fact, if we recover nothing for you, you won’t owe us anything. We only work on contingency fees, which means we only get paid if you receive compensation one way or another.
Some of our honors and awards include:
- Rated AV Preeminent® by Martindale-Hubbell
- Million Dollar Advocates Forum—Life Member
- “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” in New Jersey—The National Trial Lawyers
- “Top 100 Litigation Lawyers” in New Jersey—American Society of Legal Advocates
- Super Lawyers, Rising Star—2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
- Super Lawyers, Personal Injury—2016
- “Top 10″ personal injury attorneys under 40 in New Jersey—National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys
- “Top 40 under 40″ litigation attorneys in New Jersey—American Society of Legal Advocates
- “Top 40 under 40″ trial lawyers in New Jersey—The National Trial Lawyers
What is a Spinal Cord Injury?
The spinal cord is a cylindrical bundle of nerve fibers and cells. It is enclosed and protected within the vertebral column. The brain and the spinal cord form the central nervous system. Acting as a communication channel for the brain, various signals are carried and received through the spinal cord. If you touch something hot, your spinal cord is responsible for sending that message to the brain. Likewise, if you want to swing a golf club, it’s your brain that sends a message through the spinal cord to tell the body what to do. Other bodily functions, such as breathing, bladder, and bowel control, also rely on the spinal cord.
SCIs can result from direct injury to the spinal cord or injury to the tissue or vertebra surrounding it.
SCI victims may experience temporary or permanent changes below the level of the damage, including:
- Bodily functions
A spinal cord injury is either complete or incomplete. Loss of all function and sensation below the affected vertebrae is a complete SCI. An incomplete SCI causes only partial loss of function or sensation.
Symptoms of SCIs include:
- Numbness or tingling,
- Changes in or the loss of sensation in the hands and feet
- Paralysis—either immediately or over time as swelling and bleeding continues and affect the spinal cord
- Pressure or pain in the head, neck, or back
- Inability to move any part of the body
- Abnormal positions of the head or spine
- Loss of bowel and bladder control
- Problems breathing
- Difficulty walking
- Changes in sexual function
What Causes Spinal Cord Injuries?
SCIs have multiple causes. There are many incidents and activities that can result in trauma, causing these potentially life-changing injuries.
Accounting for an astounding 38.6 percent of all SCIs in the U.S., vehicle crashes can cause devastating trauma. Nearly 90 percent of auto collision SCIs are sustained by drivers as opposed to passengers. Rollover wrecks are the most likely to cause SCI as they frequently fracture the spine. Passengers are almost eight times as likely to sustain spinal injuries on the freeway compared to city streets. They are more likely to have lumbar injuries, while drivers are more likely to sustain cervical injuries.
Negligent drivers have a significant contribution to SCI, such as those who were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or were distracted behind the wheel. Whether you were a driver or passenger, our Hackensack spinal cord injury lawyers can help you seek the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Almost one-third of SCIs are the result of a fall, many occurring in the elderly population. Sometimes falls are due to the negligence of property owners. For example, a grocery store not clearing ice and snow from their parking lot, a nursing home not providing adequate supervision to at-risk residents, or a landlord not fixing a broken stair rail. Fall victims who suffer SCI and their families often enlist skilled Hackensack spinal cord injury lawyers to represent their injury claim successfully.
Additional SCI causes include:
- Violence accounts for 14 percent of all SCIs
- Sports and recreational activities cause 7.8 percent of SCI
- Medical/surgical events are responsible for 4.2 percent
- Other causes, such as medical conditions, account for 3.2 percent of all SCI
Suppose your SCI arose from an intentional act of violence, medical malpractice, or from a sport. In that case, you can also have a personal injury claim. It’s crucial to contact an experienced Hackensack spinal cord injury attorney as soon as possible to determine your next steps. You may be entitled to compensation for your current and future medical bills and lost wages and income, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of function.
What is Pain and Suffering?
In some injury accidents, injured parties can seek financial compensation, known as “damages,” for their losses. Suppose their injuries are the result of another party’s negligence. In that case, they deserve a fair settlement that represents the extent of their damages. Damages can include economic and non-economic losses. Pain and suffering fall under non-economic losses.
Economic losses are the hard costs the injured person incurs due to the accident and resulting injury. They come with a predetermined value, making them simple to calculate.
Examples of economic damages can include:
- Medical bills
- Past and future lost wages
- Damaged or lost personal items such as jewelry or a watch
- Replacement costs for duties the victim can’t perform, including childcare, housekeeping, and yard work
However, non-economic damages aren’t obvious, and their value isn’t predetermined. It’s often challenging to determine how much a victim should receive for them. What an insurance adjuster is willing to offer for them is almost always lower than what the injured person believes they are worth.
Pain and suffering is typically a catch-all term for most non-economic damages. There are two categories of pain and suffering; physical and mental. Physical is pain from actual physical injuries. It includes the pain and discomfort you’ve had to deal with since your injury and the other negative consequences you’ll likely endure in the future because of your injuries.
Mental pain and suffering arise from your physical injuries. You can’t claim these damages without having physical injuries.
Mental pain and suffering include the following:
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Mental pain and suffering are generally defined as any negative emotion that an injured individual experiences because of the physical pain and trauma of the accident. Those with extreme mental pain and suffering may experience anger, depression, loss of appetite, lack of energy, trouble sleeping, mood swings, and sexual dysfunction. Some individuals who suffer from SCI even develop a condition known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Similar to physical pain and suffering, mental pain and suffering covers the effects the victim has experienced to date. It can also include any future suffering they might face.
Calculating SCI Damages
Typically, Hackensack spinal cord injury attorneys calculate pain and suffering compensation by using a multiplier with the value of economic compensation. The more severe or debilitating the injury, the higher the multiplier.
If the injury is a soft tissue injury, such as minor burns, strains, and whiplash, the multiplier is usually smaller.
For hard injuries, or those that are substantially worse, such as head or spine trauma, moderate to severe burns, facial disfigurement, and fractures, you may use a larger multiplier.
Insurance companies will always try to use the smallest multiplier that you will accept. We won’t let them get away with paying you any less than you deserve.
One significant factor for calculating damages in an SCI case is considering future expenses and losses.
Many times our Hackensack spinal cord injury attorneys will hire experts like actuarial accountants who can determine how much they should receive for:
- A lifetime of lost wages from being physically incapable of working
- The lifetime costs of medical and personal care they will need
- A lifetime of pain and suffering damages
Hackensack Spinal Cord Injury FAQs
What Are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are different from economic or non-economic damages (compensable damages). Instead of compensating the injured person for their losses, the court awards punitive damages to punish whatever behavior caused the injury and prevent the same behavior in the at-fault party and others.
Courts can only award punitive damages when the at-fault party acted especially recklessly with extreme disregard for the safety of others. As such, not all SCI cases will involve punitive damages.
If you qualify, we will fight to ensure you get most punitive damages we can obtain for you.
What Are the Risk Factors for Acute SCI?
Conservative estimates show that around 250,000 people in the U.S. currently live with a spinal cord injury (SCI). Estimates also show that this number grows yearly with an additional 17,000 SCIs.
Some individuals are at higher risk for SCI than others. The average age at the time of an SCI has increased over the past several decades and is currently 42 years. Males suffer from SCI more often than females. Non-Hispanic whites have a higher risk for SCI than any other ethnic group in the U.S.
What Is It Like to Live with an SCI?
SCI recovery frequently requires long-term hospitalization and then rehabilitation. Physical therapy (PT) will likely be crucial to your rehabilitation. Physical therapists will help you prevent spasms and muscle wasting and retrain other muscles to aid in mobility and movement. Occupational therapy (OT) teaches you new ways of performing everyday tasks even with your new physical limitations.
An SCI can devastate both you and your family. Your healthcare team can provide education for your family after your hospitalization and rehabilitation concerning how to best care for you at home. They can also help them understand the unique SCI problems that might need immediate medical attention.
You will also need frequent medical check-ups and testing after hospitalization and rehabilitation to monitor your progress. It’s crucial to focus on maximizing your capabilities both at home and in the community.
It’s common to feel sad or depressed after your injury. Suppose this happens to you or a loved one. In that case, your healthcare provider may recommend that you see a mental health professional. The good news is that medications, known as antidepressants and psychotherapy, or “talk therapy,” are both available to help treat depression as you adjust to a new lifestyle.
All of these treatments come with significant price tags. The Reinartz Law Firm can estimate these costs and fight to see that your settlement or judgment covers as much of them as possible.
Contact the Experienced Hackensack Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers at Reinartz Law Firm Today for Help
If you or someone you love suffered an SCI that resulted from another party’s negligent or intentional behavior, the Hackensack spinal cord injury lawyers at the Reinartz Law Firm can recover compensation for your damages. We know the severe devastation these injuries can cause and will work tirelessly to provide you with the best possible outcome in your claim. We offer free case consultations.
"Richard guided me in my suit and made me feel confident in my decisions during my entire case. He made recommendations that I otherwise, would not have known about."