Spinal Cord Injuries – An Aftermath of Negligent or Reckless Behavior

In 2005, new cases of spinal cord injuries (SCI) in the U.S. was 11,000. Nine years after, in 2014, new cases for this type of injury increased by 1,500, while the number of those already suffering from it was estimated at 276,000 (including children and adults).

According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCSC), the latest records show more alarming numbers, with 17,000 new SCI cases each year and an estimated 282,000 persons children and adults already with this type of injury.

The spinal cord, which is a bundle of nerve tissues and support cells, is responsible for sending messages from the brain to the different parts of the body and vice-versa. Due to these messages, a person is able to feel pain, move his/her limbs, and so forth. The spinal cord forms the central nervous system with the brain and is one of the human body’s most delicate and sensitive parts. While the brain serves as the command center of the body, the spinal cord serves as the pathway for all messages to and fro the brain.

An injury to the spinal cord, whether traumatic or non-traumatic, can damage the ligaments or spinal column disks, the vertebrae, or the spinal cord itself. A traumatic spinal cord injury is characterized by a fractured, crushed, dislocated, or compressed area of the vertebrae. This can result from a sudden, forceful blow to the spine, a knife wound or a gunshot would that pierces and cuts the spinal cord. A non-traumatic spinal cord injury, on the other hand, may be due to disk degeneration of the spine, inflammation, infections, arthritis or cancer.

A spinal cord injury can have devastating effects due to the very important function it plays. The most common consequence of SCI is paralysis, either partial or total, depending on the specific area affected by the injury. Partial paralysis, or Paraplegia, is impairment in motor or sensory function (loss of movements and/or sensation) of the lower extremities or the legs. Total paralysis, or Quadriplegia (also called tetraplegia, the term more commonly used in Europe), on the other hand, is spinal cord injury that result to some degree of paralysis in all four extremities or limbs – the legs and arms.

Causes of spinal cord injury include: falling from a significant height; a sporting event accident; electrical accidents; a violent attack, such as a stabbing or a gunshot; and motor vehicle accident, which is actually the leading cause of this injury.

While the New York City personal injury attorneys of Hach & Rose, LLP, knows that serious injuries are often results of accidents which, of course, are never intended by those at fault, they also know that these accidents are, more often than not, results of negligent or reckless behavior, for which those at fault can be held totally liable under the law. SCI, specifically, requires regular and continuous treatment which is not only costly, but which can also cause financial burden in the long run. This costly medical treatment, which is too important for a victim not to undergo, is just one of the many reasons why the liable party will have to be held liable for the consequence of his/her irresponsible behavior. Maybe pursuing legal action against this at-fault person, through the help of a seasoned personal injury lawyer, is necessary in order to claim compensation for the damages he/she has unjustly caused.


How a Drug Offense can Affect a Divorce Case

The greatest benefit of a healthy marriage is probably all the positive effects it will allow both spouses and children to experience – things that may protect or cushion any family member who may face any social, emotional, educational or professional problems associated with daily living. So many marriages, however, deviate from the healthy path and eventually end in divorce instead. Various studies, in fact, show that so many couples divorce after just some years into marriage; worse, there are even couples who divorce after more than 20 years of living together. The reason for divorce? Some say they have just fallen out of love, while some others blame their spouse for becoming abusive or getting involved in illegal practices, like substance abuse.

Let’s face it – millions of Americans suffer from addiction – to alcohol, and illegal and/or prescription drugs. Though all states now allow spouses to file for divorce based on no-fault grounds (one simply has to indicate “irreconcilable differences” in the divorce form), those that still allow fault-based divorces consider adultery, cruel treatment, and drug or alcohol abuse as perfectly acceptable reasons why one spouse would decide to terminate his/her union with his/her partner. Thus, in these states, a spouse may be able to file for divorce due to his/her spouse’s substance abuse. The spouse filing for divorce (due to his/her spouse’s drug addiction) as well as the spouse being accused of drug dependence should fully know and understand how a drug offense can affect their divorce case and all divorce-related issues, including child custody and visitation rights, child support, division of assets, and alimony (it can also affect an application to modify court decision on all related issues).

Family courts take criminal offenses, including substance abuse issues, very seriously. With regard to the issue of child custody, for instance, while courts may not dwell on the issue of moderate drinking, it will strongly consider a spouse’s parenting ability if he/she were drug dependent. Thus, a spouse with a substance abuse problem:

  • Is less likely to be awarded custodial rights;
  • May not be given overnight visitation rights or may be required to make his/her visitation periods supervised by a professional (in extreme cases, though, a court may deny him/her visitation rights altogether);
  • May be required by the court to submit to drug and alcohol screens periodically, receive addiction treatment, or attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings;
  • May have his/her custodial rights terminated altogether if his/her substance abuse leads to child abuse or serious injury to the child.

Division of property and alimony can be affected as well, especially if the substance abuse results to the guilty spouse impacting the couple’s finances. In very uncommon situations, however, a court may instead require the sober spouse to pay alimony to his/her addicted partner, such as in a situation wherein the drug dependent spouse develops a mental illness that requires institutionalization; in this particular case the sober spouse may be required to pay cost of treatment that is not covered by disability benefits. In its website, the Arenson Law Group, PC explains that many spouses, despite acceptable grounds in fault-based divorce states, are unsure if they should really apply for divorce or if divorce is the right step in ending their union with their partner. Though there can be various signs that may point to divorce, such as loss of intimacy, trust issues, irreconcilable differences, or perpetual disagreements, divorce remains to be a complex process and can turn extremely frustrating and emotionally-draining if it ends up in court. With the help of a knowledgeable divorce attorney, however, a spouse may be able to save himself/herself (and his/her spouse) from public scrutiny by keeping their divorce case from being tried publicly in court. In the case of the spouse charged with a criminal offense, though the possibility of divorce may no longer be avoided, it does not mean that he/she should give up defending himself/herself from being convicted or from the very harsh punishment of the law due to one mistake that has eventually led to his/her present dilemma.

Drug-related crimes can have long-term effects: these can negatively impact one’s future personal, community and professional life. Protecting and defending the rights of a person accused of a drug offense is always worth doing, especially if this endeavor will give the accused another shot at life – an improved and better life for his/her sake and for the sake of those who will be part of his/her future.