Paralysis is one of the most life-altering and catastrophic injuries you can get from an accident. Paralyzed victims face a reduced quality of life, often requiring assistance around the clock. The medical treatment never truly ends, and victims must also say goodbye to many beloved aspects of life. Faced with all of these concerns, victims often turn to personal injury lawsuits. Legal action represents a pathway to compensation, justice, and closure. Not only does it help victims hold negligent parties accountable, but it also provides them with the necessary financial support to cover their various damages. These damages are both economic and non-economic in nature, representing psychological issues and financial issues.
There are many different types of paralysis, and each type involves different limitations and medical issues. One of the first steps is to understand how your specific medical situation will affect future legal action. Aside from your specific condition, many other aspects of your accident may affect your lawsuit – including how much compensation you stand to receive.
A General Definition of Paralysis
Before we get into the specific types of paralysis, let’s cover a basic definition of this serious injury. When a part of the body becomes paralyzed, the victim can no longer move that area. One of the causes of paralysis is commonly nerve damage. Nerve damage can be caused by a range of factors, including diseases, traumatic brain injury (TBI), genetic disorders, infections, strokes, or spinal tumors.
The affected region itself may not have been injured. For example, if you cannot move your legs, it doesn’t mean that you suffered injuries to the lower half of your body. Instead, the area of the spine or neck responsible for moving that area was likely injured. In addition to the lack of mobility, paralyzed areas exhibit several additional issues. These include the inability to feel any sensations, such as touch or heat. In short, the brain can no longer send or receive signals from the affected area.
Monoplegia involves the paralysis of one specific area. Usually, this is a single limb – such as an arm or a leg. The leading cause of monoplegia is cerebral palsy, although it can also be caused by brain injuries, nerve impingement, nerve damage, and severed nerves. Often, monoplegia is a temporary condition that can be healed over time with adequate medical attention. However, full recovery is only possible if the nerves are not fully severed.
Hemiplegia is the paralysis of one “hemisphere” of the body, which is another way of saying one side. For example, those suffering from hemiplegia may be unable to feel or move their left leg and their left arm. Their opposite side functions normally. Once again, the most common cause of hemiplegia is cerebral palsy, although it may also be caused by serious physical injury. Many people with hemiplegia find that their symptoms vary from one day to the next, and it is often a temporary condition that can be addressed with physical and occupational therapy.
Paraplegia occurs when victims become paralyzed from the waist down. This affects not only the legs but also sexual function and certain digestive processes. Not all paraplegics cannot walk, and some still have sensation. The exact symptoms of each paraplegic patient vary. Sometimes, people with paraplegia recover miraculously for no apparent reason – and scientists believe that some patients successfully regenerate their neurons. Paraplegics can improve their symptoms with physical therapy and other forms of medical treatment. Unlike hemiplegia and monoplegia, the most common cause of paraplegia is spinal cord injury – not cerebral palsy.
Quadriplegia involves the paralysis of all four limbs and the torso. The severity of this injury once again varies from patient to patient. Spontaneous recovery is possible, and many patients regain function through physical therapy and continued exercise. Quadriplegia may also be temporary, and this often occurs after serious brain injuries or compression of the spinal cord nerves. An injury to the spinal cord is the most common cause of quadriplegia, with car accidents often leading to quadriplegic patients.
Patients may also experience facial paralysis, which can be caused by nerve damage, genetic disorders, Bell’s palsy, strokes, and brain tumors. With this type of paralysis, patients can no longer move certain muscles in the face. This can affect one or both sides of the face, and it may be characterized by drooping features. Patients may also struggle with speaking, swallowing, eating, or creating various facial expressions. Like other forms of paralysis, this may be permanent or temporary. It can also be treated with plastic surgery, nerve transfers, tendon transplants, and muscle transplants.
When Can You Sue for Paralysis?
You can sue for paralysis whenever your injury was caused by someone else’s negligence. Negligent parties may cause paralysis in many different ways:
- Car Accidents: Car accidents often lead to paralyzing injuries. These accidents may be caused by several negligent parties, including drunk drivers, distracted drivers, reckless drivers, street racers, police officers chasing suspects, truckers, and so on. If you believe that your motor vehicle accident was caused by a negligent party, you may need to prove this is the case. For example, you may need to refer to the police report that shows how intoxicated the drunk driver was during the crash.
- Acts of Violence: Acts of violence can also lead to paralysis. For example, you might have been attacked by a criminal at a nightclub or a bar. If this is the case, you may be able to file what is known as a “negligent security claim.” This means that you are suing a property owner for not having good enough security. To receive compensation, you need to show that the property owner was aware or should have been aware of the danger and yet did nothing to address the problem.
- Medical Malpractice: Medical professionals can cause paralysis in several different ways. They may botch surgeries and cause needless damage to your spine or brain. They may make mistakes that cause the brain to be starved of oxygen, causing serious damage and subsequent paralysis. Medical professionals may also cause patients to fall or slip due to negligence. For example, a nurse might accidentally push someone in a wheelchair down a set of stairs, causing spinal injury and paralysis. Birth paralysis is also a possibility if medical malpractice takes place during a baby’s birth.
- Defective Products: Some paralysis injuries are caused by defective products. These products can cause spinal cord injuries in several different ways. For example, an electric bike or “one-wheeler” may have a defect that causes you to be thrown onto the pavement, causing serious brain injury and paralysis. Many products can cause similar injuries, and you can hold negligent product manufacturers responsible for these injuries.
- Premise Liability: Spinal cord injuries and head injuries can also be caused by slips and falls. A simple slip and fall can cause someone to suffer a TBI that changes their entire life. Victims may fall on spills, debris, and other hazards that may be caused by negligent property owners. For example, grocery store staff may leave a carton of spilled milk lying on the floor for hours, causing someone to fall, slip, and hit their head. This could lead to paralysis – and the victim would be fully entitled to pursue legal action.
- Dog Attacks: In rare cases, dog attacks may also result in paralysis. For example, a dog might jump up and push someone over, causing them to fall and hit their head. This can lead to paralysis and a wide range of other issues. Dog owners can be held “strictly liable” for any injuries caused by their animals. This means that in Illinois, it’s not even necessary to prove negligence when filing a dog attack injury lawsuit.
Where Can I Find a Paralysis Lawyer in Chicago?
If you or a loved one are a paralysis victim and you believe that someone else’s negligence is to blame, you should get in touch with the law firm of Palermo Law Group at your earliest convenience to speak with a paralysis attorney. While internet research is a positive first step, the only way to truly get a handle on your situation is to consult with a real legal professional. During your case evaluation, we can assess your unique situation – including your specific type of paralysis case. From there, we can determine the best course of legal action, including who you should sue. Based on this targeted advice, you can decide for yourself whether you’d like to move forward with a lawsuit.
If you choose to proceed, you can expect to receive a considerable settlement for your paralysis. These types of injuries are life-changing, and it is important to strive for a fair settlement to cover a potential lifetime of medical expenses, missed wages, and emotional distress. Remember, the statute of limitations may prevent you from suing if you wait too long. Get in touch with a personal injury lawyer today for a free consultation, and we can help you fight for the settlement you need and deserve.