Spinal Cord Injury Accident Lawyer in Baton Rouge
Spinal cord injuries are some of the most devastating injuries that exist—affecting victims and their families in different ways. Along with this debilitating injury comes skyrocketing medical costs, lifetime treatments, and an unknown future of what is to come.
At Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys, our Baton Rouge personal injury lawyers know that spinal cord injury victims face a traumatic uphill battle, filled with many worries, stress, and significant financial struggles. We also understand that these victims need someone they can trust to help them through this challenging ordeal. That is why the Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys are here for you, ready to fight and go after justice and compensation.
Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys: Who We Are
Our firm beliefs and convictions at Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys determine how we represent their clients.
We devote our practice to helping clients fairly resolve their personal injury claims, ensuring that we fight for their rights in the process. We are not afraid to go to trial if that’s what our clients need to get the compensation they deserve.
With over 150 employees and 46 attorneys, we can offer you the resources only a large law firm can provide—including a mock trial room where we rehearse our cases.
Despite our size, you will find your friends and neighbors work in our local Baton Rouge office. Our mission is to provide a high-quality combination of compassion, support, and legal services to our clients and their families. This commitment is evidenced through our relentless pursuit of justice and truth while maximizing our client’s recovery. Today, with hundreds of verdicts and settlements of $1 million and above, Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys has exceeded over $1.5 billion in recoveries for our clients.
If you are looking for an attorney to fight on your behalf zealously, the team at Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys has the background, determination, resources, and experience to go after justice and compensation on your behalf.
What Costs Will Baton Rouge Spinal Cord Injury Patients Incur?
Damage to a spinal cord can happen due to numerous factors, but the most common reason is external trauma. A spinal cord injury involves damage to the spinal cord that results in a loss of mobility, feeling, or function. Typically, these spinal cord injuries stem from accidents involving motor vehicle crashes, falls, and gunshot wounds.
Depending on the severity of the spinal cord injury, the effects can significantly affect a person’s life. Often, these victims do not even understand the difficult road ahead.
In general, spinal cord injury patients need the following expensive services and equipment following a spinal cord injury:
- Rehabilitation therapy, including occupational and physical therapy
- Diaphragm pacing
- Mobility experts
- Medical devices
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are often divided into two types: (1) incomplete and (2) complete spinal cord injuries.
- Complete spinal cord injury: This injury results in permanent damage to the affected area of the spinal cord. Usually, tetraplegia and paraplegia transpire from these complete spinal cord injuries.
- Incomplete spinal cord injury: This injury refers to partial damage to the spinal cord. Your ability to feel and move depends on the injured area of the spinal cord and the severity of that injury.
The Different Levels of a Spinal Cord Injury
The spinal cord consists of four sections: thoracic, cervical, lumbar, and sacral.
Each of these sections protects unique groups of nerves that control the body, which is why the effects of a spinal cord injury depend on the area of the spine where the injury occurred.
- Cervical spinal cord injuries tend to affect the head and neck region above the shoulders. This is the most severe level of spinal cord injury.
- Thoracic spinal cord injuries damage the function of the abdominal muscles, mid-back, and upper chest. Usually, hand and arm function remain normal with this spinal cord injury.
- Lumbar spinal cord injuries affect the legs and the hips. Those injured may need braces or a wheelchair following this type of spinal cord injury.
- Sacral spinal cord injuries affect the pelvic organs, buttocks, back of thighs, and hips. Victims with this type of spinal cord injury can often walk.
Common Causes of Baton Rouge Spinal Cord Injuries
Unfortunately, spinal cord injuries can result from several different accidents.
In Baton Rouge, these injuries typically occur from the following incidents:
- Auto accidents
- Slip and falls
- Trucking accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Acts of violence
- Dangerous conditions
- Medical malpractice
- Product defects
Depending on the extent and what part of the spinal cord is damaged, these injuries can result in paralysis, which may prove permanent or at least persist for a prolonged period. If you suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident, you need to CONTACT a Baton Rouge spinal cord injury attorney as quickly as possible. These lawyers can promptly investigate the evidence and figure out what happened and who was at fault.
Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury
Following a traumatic accident, an individual can have varying degrees of symptoms associated with the location and the severity of the spinal cord injury. After an accident, the victim may experience spinal shock, which causes a loss in muscle movement, reflexes, and feeling. As the swelling subsides, other symptoms may start appearing.
In most cases, the higher up the spinal cord injury, the more devastating the symptoms. For instance, damage to the neck or the mid-cervical vertebrae usually affects the ability to breathe and respiratory muscles. In comparison, lower spinal cord injuries affect muscle and nerve control in the bowel, legs, and bladder.
However, even though symptoms vary depending on the patient, the following are some of the most common symptoms of a spinal cord injury:
- Muscle weakness
- Breathing issues
- Loss of bowel and bladder functions
- Loss of feeling in the arms, chest, or legs
- Loss or an altered sensation including the ability to feel cold, heat, and touch
- Exaggerated reflexes or spasms
- The intense stinging sensation caused by damage to the nerve fibers
- Difficulty coughing or clearing secretions from the lungs
- Changes in sexual sensitivity, function, and fertility
If you start experiencing any of the following emergency symptoms after an accident, you need to seek emergency medical help immediately:
- Extreme pressure or pain in the back, neck, or head
- Incoordination, weakness, or paralysis in any part of the body
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Impaired breathing
- Oddly positioned back or neck
- Difficulty walking
- Problems with balance
Baton Rouge Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuits: The Basics
There are many complex issues involved with a spinal cord injury lawsuit. However, the primary concern that a victim faces is establishing whether the liable party was negligent for the accident and the resulting injuries. To prove negligence, a spinal cord injury attorney needs to demonstrate that the defendant owed the victim a legal duty to exercise reasonable care, that the defendant breached this duty, and the victim suffered injuries and damages as a result of this breach. This negligent behavior usually results from an act or a failure to act.
Some common scenarios that may constitute negligence include:
- A motor vehicle colliding with another car because the motorist was texting and driving
- A doctor making a mistake during a surgical procedure that harms the patient’s spinal cord
- Not taking care of a defect on a property or not warning an individual of this hazardous condition
Following any of these accidents, it is imperative to work with an experienced Baton Rouge spinal cord injury lawyer. These attorneys can go over the details of your case, determine if you have a viable claim, and start investigating the accident to find the crucial elements needed to establish negligence.
Damages Available After a Baton Rouge Spinal Cord Injury Accident
If you suffered a spinal cord injury, you might qualify to pursue certain damages.
In Baton Rouge, these damages include economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Economic damages are easily quantified and include:
- Medical expenses, including past, current, and future medical bills. These costs usually result from emergency medical services, ambulance rides, hospital stays, surgeries, doctor visits, and prescription medications.
- Lost wages, including past, current, and future lost wages. These lost wages result from an inability to work due to an injury.
- Lost earning capacity
- Personal property damages
- Rehabilitation costs
- At-home nursing care
- Household services, such as childcare services or cleaning services
- Other out-of-pocket expenses
Non-economic damages are not easily quantified. They include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life and activities
- Loss of reputation
- Loss of a limb
Punitive damages are only awarded in limited situations. These damages, unlike economic and non-economic damages, are not meant to compensate the victim. Instead, they punish the defendant and serve as a deterrent. Courts in Baton Rouge rarely award punitive damages because the courts believe that these damages are a financial windfall that typically counters the primary purpose of compensating victims for the harms that they have suffered. Regardless, if the conduct of the defendant is so egregious or completely reprehensible, the court may award punitive damages.
Speaking with the legal team at Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys can help you figure out which damages you should pursue in your claim.
Steps to Take Following a Baton Rouge Spinal Cord Injury Accident
If you were in a Baton Rouge spinal cord injury accident, the most important thing you can do is to get emergency medical treatment. In certain circumstances, your spinal cord injury may not be readily apparent. Even if your injuries do not seem significant following an accident, you need to get checked over by a doctor as soon as possible. Physicians can verify whether you suffered a spinal cord injury and provide you with the medical treatments you need. Additionally, these doctors can write up their findings in a medical report, which may prove critical if you decide to pursue a legal claim.
Once you receive the medical help you need, it is also crucial to take specific actions following your accident.
These steps may not only protect your legal rights but also help establish your claim.
- Gather evidence: If possible, have a family member or friend return to the accident scene and take photos or videos. Make sure that your photographers take pictures of any dangerous conditions involved, any debris left following an accident, and any other evidence that can help document what happened.
- Keep a journal: After the accident, make sure you keep a detailed journal of the accident. Indicate what happened, the injuries you suffered, what you no longer can do following the accident, and what type of help and treatments you now need. This journal may become vital evidence for your lawyer to demonstrate your pain and suffering, and you should jot down something in it every day. If you cannot do this by yourself, have a friend or a family member assist you.
- Watch what you say: Take care of what you say following your accident. Avoid statements such as “it was my fault” or any apology for the accident, as these statements may end up hurting your claim. In addition, if the insurance company is calling, make sure you only provide it with basic information and refer all further communications to your attorney.
- Contact an experienced Baton Rouge spinal cord injury attorney: Following your spinal cord injury accident, you need to contact a skilled and experienced Baton Rouge spinal cord injury attorney as soon as possible. The lawyer you choose can get to work investigating what happened, determining who was at fault, and going after all those liable for your spinal cord injury.
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Baton Rouge Spinal Cord Injury FAQs
One of the worst parts about a spinal cord injury is all of the uncertainty that comes with it, including the numerous questions and concerns spinal cord injury victims have. However, you do not have to be left in the dark following a spinal cord injury accident. When you work with an experienced Baton Rouge spinal cord injury attorney, you will have someone on your side, providing you the legal help you need during this devastating time.
Our team at Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys understands the complexities that come with spinal cord injuries and what lies ahead in terms of legal action. To help you better recognize what is involved in a spinal cord injury accident, we have created the following FAQ. We hope with these answers, we can give you the solutions you need and show you how our experienced spinal cord injury attorneys can help you.
1. Why is a spinal cord injury so devastating?
Spinal cord injuries are considered some of the most devastating injuries because these injuries involve damage to the spinal cord or the nerves running down the length of the spinal canal. Since the spinal cord and the brain make up the central nervous system, a complicated network that coordinates sensation and movement throughout your body, any damage to this system can stop the brain and the body from communicating effectively below the injury site.
2. Who can sue for a spinal cord injury in Baton Rouge?
Any individual, including an adult or child, can bring a spinal cord injury lawsuit in Baton Rouge. However, to file this suit, another individual must have caused your injuries. To determine whether you qualify to file a spinal cord injury lawsuit, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced spinal cord injury attorney.
3. Who is liable for my Baton Rouge spinal cord injury?
To prove that another party is liable for your spinal cord injury, you need to show that the at-fault party was negligent by failing to meet a clear duty. If you cannot prove negligence, you need to show that the other individual intentionally harmed you.
As a result, some of the most common liable parties in a spinal cord injury lawsuit often include:
- A motorist who injured you in a car accident
- Medical professionals who did not provide you with appropriate care, which led to your spinal cord injury
- Businesses who do not provide you with a sufficiently safe environment or whose employees engaged in dangerous behavior and hurt you
- Manufacturers of faulty devices that led to your injuries
- Construction site operators
- Owners of dangerous public or private property
When you work with the law firm of Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys, we can help you determine the at-fault parties for your accident and pursue compensation for your injuries from those parties.
4. Why do you need to investigate a Baton Rouge spinal cord injury accident quickly?
Performing a thorough investigation into the accident is crucial to figuring out what happened and who was at fault for your spinal cord injuries. This investigation should include gathering vital evidence, interviewing relevant witnesses, and collecting necessary reports.
The faster the attorney can start investigating the accident scene, the more likely he or she can review the scene in its post-accident condition and get critical evidence before it disappears. It is also essential to remember that this investigation is vital to your claim because, through it, your lawyers can establish fault, clear up liability, and determine the extent of your injuries. You should strive to avoid delays regarding the start of this investigation.
5. Will I need experts to prove liability and damages in my Baton Rouge spinal cord injury lawsuit?
Typically, the answer to this question is yes. Spinal cord injuries are incredibly serious. As a result, even if it seems apparent who caused your injury, it is still critical to establish liability and prove damages, which is why bringing experts is so important. These experts may include engineers, accident reconstructionists, doctors, economists, and human factor experts that can speak to the accident’s liability factors and help establish fault and the extent of your damages.
6. How much time do I have to bring a Baton Rouge spinal cord injury case?
The statute of limitations is a law that sets the maximum time a party has to initiate legal proceedings from the date of an alleged offense against the liable parties. In Baton Rouge, you typically have one year from the accident date to file a lawsuit. If you do not file within this allotted time, you may lose your right to collect compensation for your damages. However, your case’s specific circumstances may extend or shorten this period.
Determining the applicable statute of limitations is often quite challenging. Working with a Baton Rouge spinal cord injury lawyer is critical to ensuring that you do not miss any deadlines and that you file all of your motions on time.
7. Will a Baton Rouge spinal cord injury lawsuit take a long time to resolve?
Each spinal cord injury lawsuit is unique, meaning there is no way to know for sure how long a specific case will take.
Because of this, numerous factors may affect the length of a case, including:
- The extent of the injuries
- The complexity of the case
- The number of medical treatments required
- If the other side is willing to negotiate
Settling before knowing the full extent of your injuries is a huge mistake that can cost you substantially, which is why speaking with a spinal cord injury attorney can help you determine when the best time to file is. Additionally, if the insurance company is unwilling to negotiate, then your attorney may need to take your case to trial, where he or she can fight for maximum compensation. For these reasons, spinal cord injury cases can last anywhere from a few months to a few years.
8. What are some factors that may influence the value of my Baton Rouge spinal cord injury claim?
One of the most common questions that our firm receives is: “how much is my case worth?” Unfortunately, no attorney can provide you with an exact answer regarding how much money to expect for your injuries. However, an experienced and skilled spinal cord injury can go over certain factors that may influence the amount of your spinal cord injury claim and fight for maximum compensation.
These factors include:
- The severity of the spinal cord injury
- The treatments’ extent (is there a need for surgeries, caregivers, and future medical treatments?)
- The credibility of the witnesses and evidence presented
- Whether the spinal cord injury is permanent
- The ability to work following the spinal cord injury
- The emotional and mental trauma that you suffered as a result of your spinal cord injury
- Future earning capacity
When it comes to spinal cord injuries, because these injuries are so severe and typically result in life-long disability, the compensation amounts are often significant. Speaking to your attorney is critical in determining the maximum compensation you may pursue.
9. If the insurance company calls to discuss my Baton Rouge spinal cord injury accident, what should I say?
What most victims get wrong is believing that the insurance company wants to help following an accident. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. The insurance company, like any business, wants to make a profit. When it has to pay out compensation for your injuries, it may end up losing money. That is why these companies will try any tactic they can to limit your compensation or deny your claim.
For these reasons, if the insurance company is calling, it is in your best interest to provide it with minimal information and indicate that your attorney will be handling all future discussions. Once retained, your spinal cord injury accident lawyer can take over these conversations and ensure that you do not say anything that may negatively affect your claim.
10. If the insurance company offers me a settlement after my Baton Rouge spinal cord injury, should I accept it?
It is always your decision to accept a settlement offer, but you should consider numerous factors before agreeing to anything.
Generally, if an insurance company offers you a settlement shortly after your accident, the company wants to pay you the least amount of money possible to close your claim as quickly as possible. These insurance companies know how vulnerable you are during this time, with the medical bills piling up, which is why these companies hope to use this difficult time to settle your case without providing you fair compensation.
Instead of jumping at this first offer, it is best to determine a more accurate estimate of the costs involved in your accident. Do not forget that you want to calculate current expenses as well as future costs. This means you need to wait to gather all medical records and have a good idea of what types of treatments and recovery you should expect in the future.
For these reasons, you need to talk to Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys before you accept any insurance settlement amount. Our lawyers can go over your settlement offer and figure out if it is fair and covers your needs and expenses. If it does not, we can proceed with negotiations and go after a higher settlement amount.
11. Is there a cure for a spinal cord injury?
Unfortunately, currently, there is no cure for a spinal cord injury. Numerous treatments and medical options can improve an individual’s quality of life and symptoms, but no treatment can guarantee a spinal cord injury victim returns to normal. Hopefully, with continued research and promising advancements, more promising treatments are on the horizon.
Those treatments or technologies, however, may cost a lot of money. You will want enough from a settlement or judgment to help fund them if they prove effective.
12. Why should I retain Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys to handle my Baton Rouge spinal cord injury claim?
Spinal cord injury lawsuits involve complex litigation and require extensive and detailed evidence and a thorough understanding of state law. If you were injured in a spinal cord injury accident, you need the legal team of Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys fighting on your side.
When you work with our law firm, our lawyers can:
- Explain your case: We can go over your case in detail, provide you with the answers you need, and make sure you understand all of your legal options.
- Investigate: We will ensure that we do an in-depth investigation into your accident, gathering the critical evidence you need to prove fault and damages.
- Bring in the experts: Our team can bring in the experts you need to substantiate your claims.
- Handle negotiations: We understand that talking to the other side is stressful. However, once you retain our team, we can handle these negotiations and discussions for you, ensuring that your case is treated with respect while we fight for fair compensation.
- Take your case to trial, if necessary: If needed, we can prepare your case for trial and keep you informed every step of the way.
Following a Baton Rouge spinal cord injury accident, you have enough to worry about; you should not have to handle these complicated legal proceedings on your own. Instead, contact Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys today, and let us provide you the legal help you need.
At Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys, we understand what spinal cord injury victims are going through, and we help them and their families pursue justice and compensation. Our legal team has experience handling cases that involve spinal cord injuries, both minor and severe, and we are ready to use our experience and resources to help you pursue maximum compensation for your spinal cord injury.