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Maurice Stokes had the potential to be one of the greatest NBA big men of all time. During his college career at St. Francis College, he set an all-time rebounding record that has never been broken. Upon his arrival in the NBA in 1955, he immediately became a dominant force in the league, averaging over 16 rebounds per game and earning the honor of Rookie of the Year.
Stokes continued to be among the league leaders in rebounds, assists and points. His accomplishments set standards that are still impressive; even to this day, he is one of only five players who recorded four consecutive triple-doubles. However, one single incident was to change the course of Maurice Stokes’ life forever.
Stokes was unconscious, but after recovering, he was sent back into the game and finished with 24 points and 19 rebounds. Then, after the opening playoff loss against the Detroit Pistons, Stokes suddenly became ill before boarding a flight home. On the plane, Stokes suffered a seizure and became paralyzed. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic encephalopathy. Not only did he never play another game again, he suffered from severe disabilities for the rest of his life.
Stokes died at the age of 36 and remains perhaps the most tragic case of career-ending injuries in the NBA, possibly in all of sports. The story of Maurice Stokes serves as a powerful reminder that injuries are so often more than they appear at first glance.
People often mistakenly perceive the effects of an injury in a very narrow and immediate way. But injuries can have ripple effects that impact a person’s quality of life well beyond the short-term consequences. One single injury can have several long-term ramifications, even after initial injury has improved.
This fact is one that personal injury attorneys know all too well. In a legal context, the amount of compensation an attorney seeks on behalf of clients is referred to as damages. When an attorney looks at their client’s injury, they must consider not only the immediate costs of an injury, but how that injury might impact a person for the months and years to come. Thus, determining how much a client seeks in damages is typically well beyond the short-term costs of their injury.
A serious injury might have consequences that range from permanent disfigurement to physical disability. For example, if a person is involved in a vehicle accident and suffers severe facial fractures, they might also have facial scarring that impacts their quality of life beyond the pain and suffering of the broken bones. Cosmetic consequences are extremely serious, and they should be a major factor when determining the damages sought in a personal injury claim.
Other injuries can have long-lasting and debilitating effects on our lives, too. When a worker suffers a back injury while on the job, for example, they might recover from parts of the injury while also suffering other repercussions that prevent them from being able to work at the capacity they did prior to the event. This means they’ll never have the same earning potential, and they may require ongoing medical care that is incredibly expensive.
In some cases, long-term injuries aren’t the result of a single, devastating incident. The onset of repetitive stress injuries may take years. By the time someone is diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, the damage may be permanent. This is also true of injuries caused by repeated exposure to harmful chemicals, such as asbestos.
To understand the long-term effects of a single injury, let’s return to the story of Maurice Stokes. Because of his injury, Stokes was dependent on medical care throughout the remainder of his life. He struggled to pay the costs of that care and was dependent on the generosity of others to pay bills. Just as devastating, he lost his livelihood because of one single injury.
Even when an injury is less severe than the head injury suffered by Stokes, the effects can still be long-lasting and crippling in many facets of a sufferer’s life. The most immediate and noticeable consequence is pain, but there are also several other direct and indirect costs, such as medical bills, rehabilitation, ongoing therapy, post-traumatic stress disorder, loss of the ability to earn income, broken relationships with loved ones and an overall diminished quality of life.
Every one of those consequences takes an incredible physical and emotional toll on someone, especially when that person is also recovering from the immediate impact of an injury. When filing a claim – whether it be a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury claim – the injured person and their attorney must take all the outcomes of an injury into account.
Most serious injuries have a ripple effect throughout the lives of those around the injured person. Families, communities and workplaces might all be impacted by the harm suffered to one person.
If the breadwinner of a family suffers a serious injury and is unable to provide for their loved ones, the injury can have a domino effect. A family might struggle to pay for housing, education, food or any other basic needs. It can even affect children in fundamental ways, impeding their emotional, psychological and physical development.
As you can see, when long-term injuries have these deep-seated residual effects, determining how much an injured person should seek in compensation is no easy task. No amount of money can ever truly fix the damage done by a serious, devastating injury. However, a successful personal injury claim can certainly help the injured person and their family cope with the consequences. In fact, the compensation earned through personal injury claims can be the very thing that saves a family from financial ruin.
If you or a loved one has had the unfortunate experience of suffering a long-term injury or you are struggling with the residual effects of a prior injury, you should know that there are legal options. To speak with an experienced personal injury attorney, contact Bert Louthian to schedule a free consultation.