Paralyzation and Quadriplegia Suffered in a Rollover Automobile Accident
When cars or trucks suffer rollover accidents, the car is often totaled, but great harm can befall the occupants of the cars, as well. Both the drivers and passengers in vehicles that roll over can be seriously injured. Due to the severe nature of these wrecks, rollover accidents can result in paralysis to those involved.
When someone is paralyzed in a rollover accident, recovery and treatment will likely be lifelong and far more extensive than for other injuries; thus, the pursuit of compensation will be far more complex than otherwise. If you've been struck with paralysis after a rollover accident caused by another party's fault, then you have the ability to pursue damages through a personal injury lawsuit in Texas. At Grossman Law Offices, our attorneys specialize in personal injury litigation stemming from vehicular accidents, and we want to help inform you about the intricacies of rollover accident cases in which someone is paralyzed. For the purposes of this article, we will be focusing on quadriplegia.
What is Quadriplegia?
While many people think paralysis means the inability to walk caused by a spinal cord injury, the term actually refers to the loss of muscle function for one or more muscles. However, there are two major forms of spinal cord paralysis: paraplegia, in which someone is paralyzed from the waist down, and quadriplegia when the victim has lost the use of all limbs.
When a person suffers a spinal injury above the first thoracic vertebra, then quadriplegia can result, paralyzing all four limbs, as messages from the brain are stopped at the point of the injury before they can reach the extremities. Nerves in the extremities will still send messages to the brain, and the brain will still be trying to communicate with all parts of the body. However, like a massive car accident that has traffic ground to a stop, all of these messages are blocked at the point of the injury and unable to reach their intended destinations.
Not only will someone suffering from quadriplegia be unable to move his or her arms and legs, but he or she will also suffer through trouble breathing and an inability to clear mucus from the chest or cough with strength due to the loss of feeling in the muscles of the chest and abdomen. The actor Chris Reeve was able to deal with the complications from the quadriplegia for many years before succumbing to sepsis that developed from his breathing problems.
How Paralysis Can Happen in a Rollover Accident
Predominantly, people who suffer quadriplegic injuries in rollover accidents break their backs after being thrown from the vehicle, damaging the spinal cord. Most modern cars are designed to protect the driver and passengers so long as they remain in their seats. Thus, even during a rollover accident, the safest place for the driver or anyone else is locked into his or her seat with a seat belt. Even then, there are cases in which a car will roll over, and the structural integrity of the car's roof will not hold, causing it to cave in. In that instance, the driver could also suffer a spinal injury. Also, the force of a wreck can be so tremendous, that the cab could be completely crushed, resulting in a wide variety of serious injuries, including quadriplegia.
Pursuing Compensation after Suffering Quadriplegia in a Rollover Accident
Many rollover accidents involve only a single car - the car that suffers the rollover - and most people will be quick to assume that the driver of the car was to blame for the wreck. However, any number of other parties could have caused or contributed to the cause of the accident. The manufacturer of the car or the tire could be held accountable for defects that lead to high rates of rollovers, as was the case with Ford and Firestone involving repeated rollover problems with the Ford Explorer. The Wall Street Journal reported in August of 2001 that there had been over 203 deaths and 700 injuries linked to rollover accidents involving these vehicles, and the possibly defective tires were eventually recalled amid debate about who should be held accountable, Ford or Firestone. In other wrecks, the Department of Transportation could be partially liable if the state of the road or an unreasonably high speed limit contributed to the accident.
In order to be able to recover compensation after a rollover wreck, you must identify the party who caused the accident, and then prove the negligence and liability of this party in court. Doing so takes evidence, and your best chances of finding that evidence lie with an experienced car accident attorney who has been investigating rollover accidents for many years.
What Damages Can you Pursue?
When quadriplegia is forced upon you due to another's negligence causing a rollover accident, you have the ability to seek compensation for the financial value of your injuries and your pain and suffering. In addition, the total-body paralysis may leave you unable to work in your chosen profession for the rest of your life. While there are some work accommodations that can be made to allow quadriplegics to work in some non-physical capacities, any job involving physical labor is likely out of the question.
When it comes to the estimation of damages, rollover cases involving quadriplegia become quite complex. If you've recently been paralyzed from the neck down in an auto accident, then you're only just coming to terms with your condition. In all probability, you have no idea what the total impact of your injury is going to be. Not only will you need life accommodations like an electric wheelchair that can be operated via a mouth control stick, but you could also likely need help from a nurse while adjusting to your condition, physical therapy for many years into the future, some form of experimental surgery, transportation to everywhere you'll need to go, and in-home health care. In order to estimate the value of all of the treatments you will need, you need to consult with a life care planner and neurologists who specialize in spinal injuries.
Moreover, you've also sustained some mental trauma during the accident and from making your adjustment to life as a quadriplegic. You will need to sit down with a psychiatrist who can help quantify your emotional turmoil for the court. Additionally, you could benefit from being able to talk to someone about what you're going through.
Finally, you will need to meet with an economist and an expert in your profession to estimate the value of your lost future income as a result of your injury. This isn't as simple as taking your current yearly salary and then multiplying that number by the amount of years you expected to keep on working. Fluctuations in pay due to raises and inflation must also be considered if you want to obtain compensation in league with the actual value of the harm you've suffered.
When it comes to quadriplegia suffered in a rollover accident, the total value of the harm that's been inflicted upon you will often surpass the amount of the insurance carried by the party who caused the wreck. In that event, you will need to hire a personal injury attorney in to make sure you've pursued compensation from all possible sources.
At Grossman Law Offices, our rollover accident attorneys have been filing personal injury lawsuits to resolve Texas car accidents for more than 20 years. We've developed investigative skills, litigation experience, and important partnerships with expert witnesses that you will need to obtain the maximum amount of compensation allowable in your case. If you'd like to learn more about how we can help or just have questions about your case that you'd like answered, then call us today for a free consultation at (855) 326-0000 (toll free).