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Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI) and Medical Malpractice

SCI DiagnosisWhen a person sustains a spinal cord injury (SCI), it can severely impact their quality of life, giving rise to conditions ranging from bone bruises up to para- or quadriplegia. Given the stakes, it is imperative that these injuries be handled with the utmost care. However, medical professionals do make mistakes, both in handling existing SCIs, or in conduct that leads to a new SCI.

Information on Spinal Cord Injuries

Approximately 250,000 people in the United States live with spinal cord injuries, half of whom are quadriplegic. Most of these injuries were caused by blunt trauma to the area, which either severs the nerve network used to convey impulses to the lower limbs, or damages the spinal cord itself. Sometimes spinal injuries may also be caused or made worse by negligence - for example, a doctor failing to identify a potential problem or condition. Either way, it takes surprisingly little force to create a spinal injury; it is absolutely possible to cause one during surgery or another medical procedure if given the right (or, rather, the wrong) set of circumstances.

Spinal injuries come in two varieties, complete and incomplete - incomplete SCIs are far more common than complete. Even trauma as relatively mild as bruising or bleeding is considered an SCI, given that it can still cause impairment. Incomplete spinal injuries are often broken down even further, falling under diagnostic labels such as Brown-Sequard syndrome or anterior cord syndrome (ACS), as injuries to different parts of the spinal cord affect different areas of the body.

Bringing A Spinal Cord Injury Suit

As with any medical malpractice lawsuit, a potential plaintiff must be able to show that a doctor did not conform to the applicable standards of medical care for the situation. There is some room for variation permitted - for example, a doctor in a small rural town may not have the same level and quality of equipment available to him that a big-city doctor would - but generally, the standard is objective: if a doctor of similar age, experience and talent would have handled the situation in materially the same manner, then the presumption is that there was no negligence. If this standard was not upheld, there is a rebuttable presumption that negligence existed.

One thing that sets SCI medical malpractice cases apart from the majority of SCI cases is that most of the affirmative defenses that might ordinarily be used would not apply. One that would still apply, however, is the assumption of the risk. If it can be proved that plaintiff was advised of the potential risks of, for example, a difficult surgical procedure, but chose to undertake it anyway, a jury might conceivably find that the plaintiff had assumed the risk of potential SCI by agreeing to the operation.

Clarify Your Position Before Bringing Suit

While it may appear to you that you have a strong case, medical malpractice cases do not always turn out that way. Very often, they devolve into ‘he said, she said’ wars where very little proof is available. Seeking the opinion of an experienced legal professional can help give you a clearer picture of your options. The knowledgeable San Jose spinal cord injury attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. are happy to answer your questions and help you discover the best options for you to take. Contact our office today at (408) 289-1417 to set up an initial appointment. We serve San Jose, the Bay Area, and the counties of Alameda, Monterey, Santa Clara, San Benito and San Mateo.

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Client Reviews
★★★★★
My experience with Attorney Brad Corsiglia during my recent medical malpractice case was nothing short of amazing given the very stressful circumstances. I was fortunate to find Brad highly recommended from a mutual contact and from the very beginning of the process, Brad was truly engaged and knowledgeable in understanding my case and providing input on what avenues were available to me. Michelle M.