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The Causes of Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injuries can be devastating. Damage to the spinal cord can result in permanent changes to one’s strength, sensation and function in body parts below the point of injury. The ability to maintain control of limbs after a spinal cord injury depends on the location of the injury and the severity of the damage. The severity of spinal cord injuries can be split up into two categories: complete and incomplete. A complete injury refers to when all sensation and function is lost below the point of injury. In an incomplete injury, there is still some motor or sensory function below the point on the spine where damage occurred.

Spinal cord injuries can be caused by damage to either the vertebrae, discs, or ligaments in the spinal column. The majority of spinal injuries happen suddenly, from traumatic incidents such as a car crash or gunshot. Some spinal injuries, however, are not traumatic and are a result of arthritis, cancer, infections, or inflammation.

The leading cause of spinal cord injuries is automobile accidents, which account for about 35%. In people over the age of 65, the most common cause of spinal cord injury is slip and fall accidents. Another common cause is acts of violence like stabbings or gunshots, which account for about 15% of all spinal cord injuries. Sports and recreational activities cause about 9% of spinal injuries and most often occur in contact sports like football. Another major factor in spinal cord injuries is alcohol. According to Mayo Clinic, alcohol plays in a role about 1 in every 4 injuries to the spine.

Most Common Types of Personal Injury

Personal Injury as a lawsuit is, in actuality, encompasses a rather large area. There are many kinds of lawsuits that fall under this category, thereby making this one of the most complicated cases that any legal team can deal with. According to the website of Crowe & Mulvey, the claims that are with this kind of case often include a certain expertise with medical jargon as well as the specifics of the law, depending on which state the accident or negligent act results in. Many states differ in certain aspects of the law, though they retain the basics of it, the little discrepancies are often the ones to watch out for, in the case of possible loopholes.

One of the most common types of personal injury cases are those stemming from automobile accidents. From the statistics offered by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), every person will go through at least once in their lifetime. Sometimes, the accident can be so devastating that it results into either temporary or permanent disability, sometimes as morbid as wrongful death.

Another kind of personal injury case is one that is due to medical malpractice. This is also an umbrella term that can mean a lot of different procedures that can be cause for this type of lawsuit to be claimed, thereby demanding a lawyer that truly specializes in this kind of case in order to be granted the best possible deal as compensation for this kind of traumatic experience. Medical malpractice injuries can often result into spinal cord injuries, permanent brain damage, birth defects, et cetera – all of which then causing the victim to suddenly have financial and medical burdens due to the neglect of someone else.

In essence, that is what personal injury cases are at heart. They are accidents that cause injury when the accident itself could have been prevented if it were not for the negligence of a guilty party. If you or someone you know has been injured due to this kind of situation, immediate legal action is advised.

Essentials of the Jones Act

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (Jones Act) is a special federal law designed to protect the rights of seamen who get injured while on the job, among other things. A seaman as qualified under the Jones Act can file a suit against an employer to recover damages incurred from injuries caused by negligence. As in any tort or personal injury case, the plaintiff has to prove that there was negligence on the part of the employer and that this negligence is the reason the seaman was injured. However, there are significant differences between a regular personal injury case and a Jones Act case.

Under the Jones Act, the employer is required to take steps appropriate to the circumstances that will ensure that workers are operating under reasonably safe working conditions. An employer may be considered negligent for any number of reasons, including the usual greasy floors and lack of safety gear as well as for hiring or retaining someone who is violent. For example, if a worker is injured because he or she was assaulted by a co-worker that investigation later reveals has a history of violence, the employer can be held civilly liable for exposing workers to that person.

An employer may also be held liable for damages if the injured worker proves that any action or inaction of the employer contributed a part no matter how small in causing the injury under the Jones Act. Under regular tort law, the defendant can only be held liable of the negligence was the proximate (or main) cause of the injury.

The damages that may be awarded under the Jones Act are similar to those in a regular personal injury lawsuit. Being a federal law, Jones Act cases may be filed in either federal or state court, depending on the judgment of the maritime lawyer engaged in the case. However, a lawsuit must be filed within three years after the injury was incurred.

Personal Injury, Helmets, and the Law

Helmets can make or break a personal injury case. It all depends on what the law says about liability, and how a judge and jury will react.

Helmets are not mandatory in all states. Iowa, for example, no longer has a helmet law. It had one in 1968 when the state legislature was forced to enact one when the federal government made it a condition to getting funds released. When this pressure was lifted in 1986, Iowa repealed the law, so motorcycle riders have no legal motivation to wear one when on the road.

Studies consistently show that helmets reduce the severity of head injuries sustained in motorcycle accidents, and this can be used by a defendant in a personal injury suit to shift at least part of the blame to the plaintiff. Proving that a third party was negligent is by default an uphill battle when the plaintiff was on a motorcycle because there is a tendency for people to believe that motorcycle riders frequently engage in a risky behavior. In Iowa, having a helmet at the time of the incident can help dispel this impression under the guidance of a skilled and shrewd motorcycle accident lawyer.

Another law that has significance in personal injury claims is found in Iowa Code Chapter 688 which deals with tort liability. Iowa follows the comparative negligence doctrine, wherein a plaintiff who is partially at-fault for an accident can still recover partial damages, but only if the percentage of fault assigned is less than that of the defendant/s.  Not wearing a helmet can contribute significantly to the assigning of fault.

So what it all boils down to is that it makes overall sense to just wear the darn things, even if it gives you helmet hair. If you are involved in an accident in Iowa and get seriously injured, at least your lawyer can point out that even though you didn’t have to, you still wore a helmet. This goes a long way to convincing a jury at least that you are probably not in the habit of taking risks, and rule your way more favorably.

Medical Malpractice Involves More than Physicians

Medical malpractice is defined as an act or failure to act of a health care provider to provide due care to a patient. It is considered negligence because it contravenes the tenets of the accepted standard of practice. People usually equate this with physicians or surgeons, but in fact many medical mistakes are attributable to nurses, medical technicians, laboratory personnel, hospitals, paramedics, therapists, dentists, and other non-physicians.

One of the most common medical mistakes committed by a non-physician is development of pressure sores or ulcers, otherwise known as bed sores, because of the failure of the nurse or orderly to regularly change the position of a non-ambulatory patient. Bed sores are extremely painful and, if left unattended, can expose subcutaneous tissue and even bone. It can also trigger complications such as sepsis, osteomyelitis, gangrene, autonomic dysreflexia, amyloidosis, anemia, bladder distension, and even malignant tumors.
Another type of medical malpractice that occurs more frequently than is reported is retained surgical instrument. Sponges are the most commonly retained item, although forceps, retractors, clamps and needles have also shown up in a postoperative patient. In such cases, nurses have come into share of the blame for failing to keep accurate count of the instruments such as sponges, which is part of their responsibilities.

Medical malpractice may be claimed by a patient when the health care provider through some commission or omission suffers injury, physical or otherwise. In one case, a patient who was conscious and able to feel the pain of his surgical procedure because of an error in the administration of the general anesthetic committed suicide because of psychological damage from the experience.

If you or someone in your family has suffered harm from medical mistakes, you may have a basis for a medical malpractice suit. This can become necessary if death has occurred, or the consequences of the negligent act resulted in significant financial losses.  Consult with a medical malpractice lawyer to find out what your legal options are.

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