Medical malpractice can result in paraplegia for a number of reasons, leaving patients with life-long disabilities, medical complications, and financial needs. If you believe that you or a loved one has fallen victim to paraplegia due to malpractice, it may be time to consult an experienced injury lawyer.
What Is Paraplegia?
Paraplegia is a specific kind of paralysis in which there is a motor or sensory impairment of the lower extremities. There may be some control of muscles, or no control over any muscles. Paraplegia is a problem with the nervous system that can occur when there is an injury that causes damage below the neck, usually as a result of trauma (e.g., sports injury or car accident).
Other forms of paralysis include:
- Facial: Impacts muscles in the face.
- Monoplegia: Impacts only one limb.
- Diplegia: Impacts either both arms, or both legs.
- Hemiplegia: Impacts one side of the body.
- Quadriplegia: Impacts both arms and both legs.
In addition to the loss of the affected muscles and limbs, paralysis can also eventually lead to other debilitating and life-threatening conditions like:
- Muscle spasms or stiffness
- Respiratory difficulties
- Speech or swallowing problems
- Excessively high or low blood pressure
- Heart problems
- Chronic pain
- Sexual problems and erectile dysfunction
- Blood clots (sometimes life-threatening)
- Depression and anxiety
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
Although stroke and spinal cord injuries are the main causes of paralysis, nerve damage has also been a factor in a number of medical negligence cases. Examples of medical procedures that could result in complete or partial paralysis include:
- Incorrect diagnosis, which prompts unnecessary surgery that does more harm than good
- Mechanical issues with medical equipment
- Improper anesthetic administration
- A spinal or spinal column-related surgical error
Spinal cord injuries account for 27.3% of paraplegic cases in the US; 5% of those injuries occur as a result of medical or surgical procedures. This type of medical malpractice occurs when recovery is inhibited due to an untreated or mistreated spinal injury because of a medical misdiagnosis.
While it is possible to recover some function after being rendered paraplegic—usually within the first 18 months—people generally do not recover from this condition. Other causes of paraplegia may include:
- Genetic disorder
- Immune system complications
- Tumors against the spinal cord or within the spinal cord itself
Spinal paralysis can also be a birth injury caused by medical negligence. When preventable injuries occur to the mother or her baby during childbirth, the family can file a birth injury lawsuit against any responsible medical professionals and facilities. Medical malpractice lawsuits are one way to hold negligent healthcare professionals accountable for their negligence and provide families compensation to help pay for medical and life care expenses.
What Do You Need to Prove in a Paraplegia Medical Malpractice Case?
In order to prove that your paralysis is eligible for a medical malpractice case, you must first determine if your situation meets a few general criteria for malpractice:
- The presence of a severe permanent injury,
- The likelihood of establishing that the claimed injuries were caused by substandard care,
- The life expectancy of the victim,
- The cost of past medical care and, more importantly, the projected cost of future care,
- The amount of past and future lost earnings,
- The existence of immediate family members adversely affected by the injury to the patient, and
- The presence of one or more responsible healthcare providers who have sufficient liability insurance coverage or assets to pay a settlement or verdict.
There are a number of errors that healthcare professionals make that can lead to paraplegia, and understanding these can be helpful when consulting with a personal injury firm to evaluate whether malpractice was the cause of the paraplegia. These errors include:
- Complications or injuries that arise during childbirth as a result of poor delivery
- Nerve damage due to excessive tearing or stretching
- Excessive and unnecessary use of force during surgery
- Surgical errors near the brain or spine during surgery
- Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose sickness or tumors
- Misreading of test results or scans
How Are Malpractice Cases Involving Paraplegia Resolved?
The first step in resolving any medical malpractice case is to find an experienced malpractice law firm near you and set up an appointment for a consultation as soon as possible. Medical malpractice cases have a limited statute of limitations that make it impossible to file a lawsuit after a certain window of time has passed.
However, in cases involving pediatric medical malpractice such as paraplegia resulting from a birth injury, families may have additional time to file a medical malpractice suit.
Understanding the steps of a malpractice case can help families make informed decisions during their case, starting from the first consultation in which we will answer any questions they may have and then go on to the first phase of information gathering.
In cases of paraplegia that results from negligent prenatal care or mismanaged labor and delivery, babies may also have other injuries, such as brain injuries or cerebral palsy. We have the knowledge and resources needed to investigate and litigate paraplegia malpractice cases, helping victims seek the answers and compensation they deserve.
Featured Verdicts and Settlements
- $190 Million from The Johns Hopkins Hospital for Medical Malpractice and Sexual Abuse: One of the largest in U.S. history for a case of this nature, Johns Hopkins’ liability was founded on its failure to establish procedures and adequately oversee the care provided by its OBGYN department, leading to unnecessary and overly intrusive pelvic exams.
- $33.5 Million for Delayed C-section: A jury awarded this record-breaking verdict after finding that delays in performing an urgently needed cesarean section resulted in a baby developing severe brain damage and cerebral palsy.
- $24.25 Million for Failure to Diagnose: A record-breaking medical malpractice jury verdict in the District of Columbia, obtained for a child who suffered brain damage and cerebral palsy because her doctors failed to properly diagnose and respond to an airway obstruction.
- $10 Million for Emergency Room Negligence: A settlement obtained in a case as a result of failure to properly diagnose and treat infection.
- $100s of Millions for Misdiagnosis: Hundreds of millions of dollars obtained in verdicts and settlements in cases involving delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of cancer or other life-threatening conditions.
Janet, Janet & Suggs Is Here to Help
Janet, Janet & Suggs has over 40 years of experience securing fair settlements and verdicts for victims of medical malpractice lawsuits. We provide expert witnesses and attorneys to support clients through the complex process of a medical malpractice case with our dedicated team of lawyers and in-house medical professionals.
Our nationally recognized track record of successful verdicts demonstrates our commitment to working for justice and fair compensation. We fight for victims of medical malpractice, and there are no fees until we win your case. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case and learn about your opportunities for compensation.
Kelly Radtke, RN, BSN, MBA, CLNC
Registered Professional Nurse | Legal Nurse Consultant
Kelly is a highly accomplished healthcare professional with over 29 years of nursing and medical experience. Her comprehensive knowledge of a wide range of healthcare rules/regulations, guidelines, standards, and practices—as well as her analytical skills in the discovery, due diligence, and litigation process—are invaluable to the JJS team. READ FULL BIO