Peripheral nerve damage is sometimes referred to as peripheral neuropathy, or “PN.” It is a damage or disease which affects the body’s nerves that lie outside of the brain and the spinal cord. Peripheral nerves are responsible for functions such as:
- Gland and organ functions; and
- Other various functions which are dependent upon the nerve location.
Damage to the peripheral nerves is considered to be very serious, due to the fact that it could affect a wide variety of bodily functions.
Motor vehicle accidents are largely responsible for the cause of peripheral nerve damage. Pedestrian injuries and gunshot injuries are the second and third most common causes. Some other causes include, but may not be limited to:
- Surgery error;
- Repetitive motion injuries;
- Industrial accidents;
- Workplace injuries; and
- Trauma accidents.
A very common example or peripheral nerve damage would be carpal tunnel syndrome. Because the symptoms of peripheral nerve damage vary widely, it is important to consult with a qualified physician in order to receive a proper diagnosis. Consulting with your physician is also important in building a legal case, should your peripheral nerve damage be a result of another party’s actions.
What Are the Symptoms of Peripheral Nerve Damage? Is Peripheral Nerve Damage Permanent or Reversible?
Common symptoms of peripheral nerve damage include the following:
- Pain, sometimes acute but generally chronic;
- A sensation of pins and needles, especially in the hands and feet;
- Numbness, or entire lack of feeling;
- Muscle weakness; and
- A lack of motor coordination.
Peripheral nerve damage may be long-term. Additionally, it can lead to other complications and medical conditions.Peripheral nerve damage may also be associated with a pre-existing issue, such as nerve pain associated with diabetes. Treatments range from pain relief medication, to more extensive measures such as rehabilitation and therapy sessions.
There are few types of peripheral nerve damage that are short-term, and can be cured. Early treatment can improve the outcome and duration of the condition. Peripheral nerve damage tends to be long-term.
Who Can be Held Liable for Peripheral Nerve Damage?
Who may be held liable in a peripheral nerve damage lawsuit will vary greatly, based on the specific facts of each specific circumstance.
Cases involving a motor vehicle accident or something similar as the cause of the nerve damage may result in the negligent party being held liable. Negligence refers to a specific type of personal injury tort in which one person acted carelessly given the circumstances of the situation. An example of this would be where one person is negligent driving, which causes an accident resulting in injury to another driver, such as peripheral nerve damage.
As a legal theory, negligence contains four elements which all must be met in order for a claim to be successful:
- Duty: One party owed the other a duty of care. It is important to note that people going about their day owe a duty of reasonable care to each other. Reasonable care generally means the care that an ordinary and reasonable person would use in similar circumstances. For example, a person exercising reasonable care would not drink and then operate a motor vehicle;
- Breach of Duty: I.e. one party failed to maintain their duty to the other. In order to prove the breach element, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant’s failed to act as a reasonable person would, and their care fell below reasonable standards as required of their duty;
- Causation: The breach of duty alone is what caused injury or loss to another person; and
- Damages: The negligence must have resulted in tangible, quantifiable loss. It is important to keep track of and compile all of your medical bills, including prescriptions, so that you may include them in your claim for damages.
In cases involving medical malpractice, doctors may be held liable in nerve injury claims. Medical malpractice refers to the negligence of a medical professional, resulting in the injury of a patient with whom they have, or had, a professional relationship. A doctor’s negligence could lead to a patient’s peripheral nerve injury or damage. An example of this would be if the surgeon performed surgery in such a way that the procedure did not follow acceptable standards for safe surgery. In some medical malpractice cases, you may be able to hold the hospital or other staff liable. Consulting with an attorney is recommended.
Some cases involve defective products which cause peripheral nerve damage. This would be considered a type of product liability, which is another complicated area of law. Under these theories, there may be many people who could be held liable, from the product’s designer all the way to the store that sold the defective product. Peripheral nerve damage from defective products is usually caused by burns, falls, lacerations, and/or other injuries.
Can You Get Compensation for Peripheral Nerve Damage?
Legal remedies for a peripheral nerve damage claim most commonly consist of compensatory damages. This damages award, issued to the injured party, is intended to provide financial compensation for losses and costs associated with the incident. Some examples of this include:
- Medical bills and expenses;
- Hospital bills;
- Therapy bills and expenses, such as physical therapy;
- Mental health costs, such as therapy, in some cases;
- Prescription costs; and
- Loss of income or loss of future earning potential.
Compensatory damages are most commonly calculated by considering the following factors:
- The victim’s background;
- They type and extent of the injury;
- Costs associated with treating and/or rehabilitating the injured plaintiff;
- Any differences or losses in the plaintiff’s ability to earn a living wage prior to and after the incident;
- Actual losses of income, such as time missed from work for assessment and treatment;
- Whether any property damage also resulted from the incident; and
- Any other considerable impacts on the plaintiff’s quality of life, such as if the incident has caused the plaintiff PTSD.
Are There any Legal Remedies for a Peripheral Nerve Damage Claim?
There are two main types of compensatory damages as legal remedies:
- Special Damages: Special damages are intended to restore the injured party to the position in which they were in prior to the incident. This generally includes damages that can be calculated and are quantifiable; and
- General Damages: General damages are awarded for losses that can be easily determined through monetary calculations. An example of this would be losses connected to emotional distress, defamation, or loss of consortium or companionship.
As state laws vary in regards to compensatory damages, you should consult with an area attorney. Some states place limits on compensatory damages, especially general damages. A nerve injury lawyer or nerve damage attorney can help determine whether your state places a limit on damages awards.
Do I Need to Hire a Peripheral Nerve Damage Lawyer for Help with a Lawsuit?
If you have been involved in a situation resulting in peripheral nerve damage, you should consult with a skilled and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer immediately. It is important that your health and rights are protected, and there could be important evidence that will need to be collected in a timely manner.
An experienced personal injury attorney will study the facts of your case with which to assemble a case, and will represent you in court as needed. Additionally, a local personal injury attorney will be aware of any state laws, statutes of limitations, and damages awards limitations that could affect your case.