There are many accidents and events in life that can lead to an injury. However, almost no other injury can compare to the severity and impact a spinal cord injury can have on the life of a person and to their families. Spinal cord injuries often result in lifelong disabilities and require extensive and ongoing medical treatments.
A spinal cord injury is a condition that can dramatically alter a person’s life. Not only would a victim be contending with expensive medical bills, but they may also experience partial or full paralysis as a result of the injury. If you or a family member suffers a severe spinal injury due to the negligence of another, consult with an experienced Bentonville spinal cord injury attorney.
At Bennett & Heyman, we are determined to provide you with the legal representation you need to file a lawsuit against the individual or entity that caused your spinal injury in Bentonville. To schedule a free legal consultation to discuss your claim, contact Bennett & Heyman at (410) 429-7856. You can also contact us online.
What is Spinal Cord Injury?
The spinal cord is an essential part of our anatomy and our nervous system, which is divided into two parts. The spinal cord is divided into separate systems, the central nervous system, and the peripheral nervous system.
The central nervous system is comprised of the brain, the spinal cord, and the optic nerves, which allow us to see. You are probably familiar with the brain as the control center of the body. The brain is made up of four separate lobes or regions, which are the frontal lobe, the temporal lobe, the parietal lobe, and the occipital lobe. In addition, the brain is composed of the cerebellum and the brain stem. Each of these areas provides a different function and help control the body and the mind.
The spinal cord can be defined and explained as a bundle of nerves and fibers that attach to the brain at the brain stem. These nerves and fibers are about the thickness of a finger and run the length of the spine from the base of the skull to the lower back. The spinal cord plays an important function in that it connects to the peripheral nerve systems through the spinal nerves or nerve roots, which extend outwards from the spinal cord.
All other nerves in the body are part of the peripheral nervous system and can be broken down into separate categories of motor, sensory, and autonomic. Each of these nerve types serves an important function. Motor nerves are involved in transmitting messages from the brain to other parts of the body. Sensory nerves are involved in transmitting messages to the brain, whereas the autonomic nerves control the automatic functions of the body. Those are the functions that we do not have to think about such as breathing and digestion.
The central and peripheral nervous systems work together to allow humans to function and to live. The peripheral nerves transmit messages all across the body in the form of electrical impulses. The spinal cord, however, transmits messages between the peripheral nerves and the brain. This highlights the importance of the spine.
Common Causes of Spinal Injuries
There are numerous ways that a person can sustain a spinal injury. As a spinal injury can leave a victim with long-term or permanent damage, it is essential for a victim to understand the cause of the accident and who can be held responsible. The following is a list of common causes of spinal injuries in Bentonville residents.
Car accidents are a common cause of spinal injuries. However, the type of accident that a victim experiences may affect the likelihood of suffering a spinal injury. For example, the impact of a rear-end car accident will put a victim at a higher risk of sustaining a spinal injury.
Additionally, accidents with large commercial vehicles can also cause a spinal injury as accidents involving semi trucks, and similar vehicles are often catastrophic.
Slip and Fall Accident
A slip and fall accident occurs when a person suffers an injury after tripping over a safety hazard on the property of another. The landowner is typically held liable when a slip and fall accident occurs on their property. For example, if a customer at a restaurant slips on a puddle and injures their spine, the owner of the restaurant would be liable for the accident.
Slip and fall accidents may happen under a variety of other circumstances:
- Inadequate lighting
- Unplowed snow or ice
- Uneven sidewalk
When having surgery for a spinal injury or to correct a condition that affects the spine, patients expect that their surgeon will exercise due care. Unfortunately, some surgeons could act negligently and fail to perform a proper surgery.
To learn more about filing a lawsuit for a spinal injury, you should continue reading and speak with an experienced Bentonville personal injury lawyer.
Statute of Limitations for Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuits in Bentonville, AR
The statute of limitations determines how long a claimant has to file a lawsuit with a court of law. Note, however, that the filing deadline for a lawsuit can vary depending on the type of lawsuit that a claimant wants to file. For example, a personal injury lawsuit may have a different filing deadline than a lawsuit based on fraud.
In Arkansas, a personal injury lawsuit must be filed within three years of the date of the injury. When a plaintiff does not file their claim within three years, they may be unable to pursue compensation for their injuries. Specifically, a defendant may successfully move to dismiss the complaint because it was not timely filed.
Additionally, if a plaintiff wishes to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, they must file their case within two years.
While a potential plaintiff may have several years to file their case, it would be wise to consider filing the lawsuit as soon as possible. There are a number of factors that may affect your case if you wait a significant amount of time to file. For example, evidence you need to support your case could go missing, or vital witnesses may move outside of the state. Our firm can help you pursue your claim promptly.
Understanding a Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit
Spinal cord injuries generally are sustained as either complete spinal cord injuries or incomplete spinal cord injuries. The type and severity of the injury that a person sustains can determine the extent of injuries and the type of ongoing care that a person needs.
In a complete spinal cord injury, the person generally loses all function and sensation of everything below the point of the injury. This means that if the injury is located high on the spinal column near the base of the skull the person may lose the ability to move their arms, trunk, and legs. In addition, a person may no longer be able to breathe on their own, nor will certain basic functions continue to function properly. A complete spinal cord injury generally requires round the clock care and often results in death. Those who have suffered a complete spinal cord injury can file a personal injury claim to recover for their medical expenses, hospitalizations, ongoing care, and any surgeries incident to the injury. In addition, those affected by a complete spinal cord injury may be able to recover for their pain and suffering they have endured as a result of their injury. In the event that a spinal cord injury victim does not survive the accident or dies as a result of their injuries, then a family member or one who was close to the victim may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. These lawsuits are designed to provide the aggrieved family member with many of the same benefits of the person if they had lived such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In addition, a wrongful death lawsuit can provide the family members with funeral expenses.
While generally less severe medically, but just a devastating are incomplete spinal cord injuries. In an incomplete spinal cord injury, at last, some of the messages from the brain or from the peripheral nervous system are able to be transmitted. Similar to complete spinal cord injuries, an incomplete spinal cord injury generally affects the parts of the body that are below the point of injury. Generally, a person who has sustained an incomplete spinal cord injury will retain some sensation or ability to move the parts of their body below the point of injury, however generally these organs and limbs may not be as functional as they were prior to the accident. A personal injury case is often filed in incomplete spinal cord injuries as a means for those to recover for their medical expenses, ongoing care, therapy, and even pain and suffering. While not as common, wrongful death actions are also available for those who have died because of an incomplete spinal cord injury.
Proving Liability in a Bentonville Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit
Personal injury lawsuits are often based on a theory of negligence. Specifically, a plaintiff must show how a defendant acted negligently before they can prevail and be awarded damages for their injuries. There are four elements of negligence that a plaintiff must prove to prevail in their case:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care
- The defendant breached their duty of care to the plaintiff
- The plaintiff suffered an injury due to the defendant’s breach
- The losses sustained by the plaintiff are compensable by a court of law
If a plaintiff prevails in a personal injury lawsuit, they can be awarded damages to compensate them for their injuries. Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate a plaintiff for economic and noneconomic damages.
Economic damages are awarded to a plaintiff for injuries that are easily calculated. Noneconomic damages are awarded for losses that are difficult to quantify. The following are economic and noneconomic damages that may be awarded to a plaintiff:
- Medical bills
- Loss of income and future income
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
Put Bentonville Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Ken Kieklak to Work for You
For nearly 20 years, Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law has provided respected and trusted legal advice to people throughout the state of Arkansas. Whether you are seeking Social Security representation, a personal injury litigator, or help with a wrongful death claim, Ken is eager to get to know you and understand your situation. For your free and confidential legal consultation about your Bentonville spinal cord injury case, call us at (479) 316-0438 or contact us online.