Berman & Simmons recently represented a driver from midcoast Maine who was injured when she was rear-ended by a telephone company truck. The woman suffered a whiplash injury with trauma to her neck, back, and spinal cord. She endured multiple surgeries, physical therapy, and a long, painful recovery process. She also lost thousands of dollars in wages because of the time she was forced to miss work.
When the insurance company for the other driver refused to pay fair compensation, we took the case to trial and won a $750,000 verdict for the woman.
Unfortunately, many accident victims who suffer spinal cord, neck and back injuries never receive the money they deserve for medical care, rehabilitation, and lost wages.
Spinal cord injuries (SCI) are among the most serious and devastating injuries a person can suffer. An estimated 275,000 Americans are living with a spinal cord injury, and each year, another 12,500 are injured. These injuries require expensive medical care and ongoing treatment and services, sometimes for the rest of a person’s life.
Learn more about spinal cord injuries
SCI is typically caused by a traumatic blow to the spine that fractures or dislocates vertebrae. This is commonly referred to as a broken neck or broken back. The trauma causes bones, bone fragments, discs, or other structures to damage the spinal cord tissue. If the spinal cord is torn or severed, the victim can suffer paralysis.
The level of injury is the lowest point on the spinal cord below which sensory feeling and motor movement are impacted.
Cervical Spinal Cord Injury C1 – C8
Cervical Spinal Cord Injury C1 – C8. Cervical level injuries cause paralysis or weakness in both arms and legs (quadriplegia). All regions of the body below the level of injury or top of the back may be affected. Sometimes this type of injury is accompanied by respiratory issues, bowel, bladder, and sexual dysfunction, and loss of physical sensation. This area of the spinal cord controls signals to the back of the head, neck and shoulders, arms and hands, and diaphragm. Since the neck region is so flexible it is difficult to stabilize cervical spinal cord injuries. Patients with cervical level injuries may be placed in a brace or stabilizing device.
Thoracic Spinal Cord Injury T1 – T12.
Thoracic level injuries in the mid-spine area are less common because of the protection given by the rib cage. Thoracic injuries can cause paralysis or weakness of the legs (paraplegia) along with bowel, bladder, and sexual dysfunction, and loss of physical sensation. In most cases, arms and hands are not affected. This area of the spinal cord controls signals to some of the muscles of the back and part of the abdomen. With these types of injuries most patients initially wear a brace on the trunk to provide extra stability.
Lumbar Spinal Cord Injury L1 – L5.
Lumbar level injuries in the lower spine area result in paralysis or weakness of the legs (paraplegia). Bowel, bladder, and sexual dysfunction can occur, as well as loss of physical sensation. The shoulders, arms, and hand function are usually unaffected. This area of the spinal cord controls signals to the lower parts of the abdomen and the back, the buttocks, some parts of the external genital organs, and parts of the leg. These injuries often require surgery and external stabilization.
Sacral Spinal Cord Injury S1 – S5.
Sacral level injuries at the bottom of the spine primarily cause loss of bowel and bladder function, as well as sexual dysfunction. These types of injuries can cause weakness or paralysis of the hips and legs. This area of the spinal cord controls signals to the thighs and lower parts of the legs, the feet, and genital organs.
Types of spinal cord injury
The two major types of spinal cord injury are tetraplegia and paraplegia.
Tetraplegia (formerly called quadriplegia) affects both arms and both legs. It is caused by trauma anywhere between the C1 and the T1 vertebrae. People with tetraplegia can experience a loss of sensation, function, or movement in their head, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, upper chest, pelvic organs, and legs.
Paraplegia affects the lower body. People with paraplegia have partial or complete lost feeling and motor function in the lower parts of their body, such as stomach, hips, legs and feet. It is caused by trauma anywhere between the T2 and the S5 vertebrae.
Degree of severity of spinal cord injury
The severity of spinal cord injuries is described as either complete or incomplete.
A complete injury means there is no voluntary movement or sensation below the level of the injury.
An incomplete injury means there is some functioning below the level of the injury.
Strong advocates for victims of spinal cord injuries in Maine and New England
Spinal cord injuries are often caused by someone else’s negligent or reckless action, such as a car accident, an act of violence, a workplace fall or by some other means. In those cases, Maine law entitles the injured person and their families to recover financial damages. Berman & Simmons is widely recognized as the best personal injury lawyers in Maine and among the best in the U.S. It’s our mission to hold the responsible party accountable and to make sure you receive full compensation for your losses.
A Law Firm That Listens
Berman & Simmons is widely recognized as the best personal injury lawyers in Maine and among the best in the U.S., having won many of the largest jury verdicts and settlements ever obtained for injured people in Maine.
Our trial lawyers have won thousands of claims on behalf of those injured in a car accident, and each year we build on that successful track record.
Our attorneys and staff members will take the time to listen to you, work to understand your concerns, and come up with solutions that can make your life better, including obtaining payment for or deferral of your debts until your case is resolved. We help you recover and make sure you receive full compensation for your injuries and loss.
We'll Take Care of the Heavy Lifting
Don't wait to hire a personal injury lawyer:
Maine has strict deadlines for filing many personal injury claims.
The other insurance company is likely already building their client’s case against you.
Witnesses may become unavailable and evidence may be lost or degraded with time.
You’ll need help navigating your medical care and dealing with financial pressures.
You need peace of mind to focus on your recovery.
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Spinal Cord Injury FAQs
What do I prepare for the first call or meeting with you?
For your first meeting with us, simply tell us your story and explain in your own words what happened and how your life has been affected. If you’re meeting with us in person, you can bring notes about what happened to you, driver insurance information, names of any witnesses, photos of the accident damages or injuries, medical records, and other related paperwork if you have it and if it’s applicable, but that information isn’t necessary. Really all you need to do is be yourself, speak with us honestly, and be willing to tackle your problems with us.
Initial conversations between potential clients and our staff members are often done over the phone. Rest assured that everything we discuss is confidential and protected under law.
How much will a lawyer cost me?
The lawyers at Berman & Simmons work on a contingency basis. That means you pay nothing up front and nothing unless we settle or win your case. We will consult with you, evaluate your situation, and do initial research free of charge. This is true even if we decide you don’t have a valid claim. We will also cover all necessary case expenses and you will not be obligated to reimburse us until and unless we recover monies on your behalf. if we do take your case and win a settlement or a jury verdict in your favor, a percentage of the compensation goes to pay for our costs and the work done by our legal team.
How will I know if I have a case?
To pursue a case, we will need to prove that you suffered a substantial personal injury and the injury was directly caused by the negligence of another party. A bad result alone is not enough to establish negligence. We let you know upfront if we are able to move forward with the legal process, or if we don’t think you have a case. Generally, we will know if you have a case after our first phone call or meeting.
If we believe you have a valid claim and decide to move forward with litigation, our attorneys and staff will then take it from there and do everything else that needs to be done, including obtaining and reviewing records relevant to your case, such as accident reports and other law enforcement documents, employer records, medical records, and other information.
How long will it take to resolve my case?
Every case is different, and there is no way to predict how long it will take for your case to be resolved. Some cases end in a matter of months, while the most complex and challenging cases, such as a medical malpractice case, can span several years. The vast majority of cases, however, are resolved before a trial and usually within a year.
The goal is to make sure you receive fair compensation for your injuries, no matter how long it takes whether that comes in the form of a pre-trial settlement, or with a jury verdict in your favor.
How much is my case worth?
There are many factors that need to be considered when determining the value of your case. Every case is unique and it takes a team effort — including your attorney, staff researchers, and outside experts — to determine the extent of your damages and how much your case is worth. There are two types of damages for which you could receive
compensation: Economic and non-economic.
If your case goes to trial and a jury agrees you deserve compensation, the jury members will decide how much the money you should receive for each category of damages.