Serious accidents, including motor vehicle crashes, slip and falls, and construction accidents, may lead to severe spinal cord damage. In some instances, a spinal cord injury may develop into full or partial paralysis, severely limiting an individual’s mobility and ability to feel in some regions of their body.
In a spinal cord injury case, there is no such thing as an average settlement, jury verdict, or binding arbitration award. Instead, the total compensation that an accident victim receives will depend upon the seriousness of their injury and whether they suffer a partial or complete spinal cord injury in their accident.
Other factors that may affect the total damage award that a spinal cord injury victim recovers include where they filed the accident case, the insurance company and the adjuster with whom you are dealing, the cost of your medical treatment, and whether or not your spinal cord injury is permanent. While some spinal cord injury cases result in settlement or litigation amounts in the thousands of dollars, other cases resolve for millions of dollars.
If you or a person you care about suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident that resulted from someone else’s negligence, you should obtain the medical treatment that you need. In many cases, spinal cord injury treatment may go on for a significant period of time, or it may be lifelong.
In addition to obtaining medical treatment for your injuries, you should contact a knowledgeable spinal cord injury attorney in your area as soon as possible. Waiting too long to seek legal counsel in your case may jeopardize your right to recover the monetary compensation you deserve for your injuries.
A spinal cord injury lawyer can help you file your claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company, negotiate with settlement adjusters, and, if necessary, threaten the insurance company with litigation and later take your case to court. Your attorney can answer all of your legal questions about how best to proceed with your case and help you make informed decisions while your case is ongoing.
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Common Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries typically happen when accident victims experience severe trauma to their head, neck, or back, such as in a slip-and-fall accident or car crash. While all types of spinal cord injuries are serious, some injuries are more debilitating than others.
Some of the most common types of spinal cord damage include:
- Fractured vertebrae: Most people have thirty-three individual bones in their spinal column called vertebrae. These bones connect with one another and interact via flexible joints, which are called facets. When one or more of these vertebrae sustain trauma in an accident, it can fracture. A fracture may cause the accident victim to experience significant pain in their neck or back, depending upon the exact location of the injury. The accident victim may need to undergo a consequential medical procedure, such as spinal decompression surgery, to correct the fracture. After the surgery is complete, the accident victim may need to undergo additional medical treatment or physical therapy for them to return to their pre-accident state.
- Paraplegia: Paraplegia is partial paralysis injury that occurs when an individual sustains significant trauma to their back and spinal cord. A paraplegic is someone who is paralyzed from the waist down. In other words, a paraplegic may have the ability to use their hands and arms but may be unable to feel or use their legs and feet for walking. In many cases, paraplegics are confined to a wheelchair and may depend upon others for care.
- Quadriplegia: Quadriplegia is a total paralysis injury where the accident victim does not have any use of their hands, arms, legs, or feet. Many individuals in this category are entirely unable to care for themselves and must rely upon around-the-clock caregivers at a nursing home or assisted living facility.
Common Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries may lead to various types of symptoms.
Some of the most common include:
- Loss of feeling in the affected areas of the body
- Tingling in the affected areas
- An inability to move
If you experience any of these symptoms following an accident, undergo prompt medical treatment right away. Your medical provider can determine if you likely suffered spinal cord damage and can prescribe the necessary medical treatment for you.
Accidents That Lead to Spinal Cord Damage
Forceful accidents and collisions can lead to spinal cord damage, including full or partial paralysis. Some of the most common accidents that lead to spinal cord damage include serious car crashes, slip-and-fall accidents, and construction accidents.
Car accidents frequently happen when people drive in a careless or reckless manner. For example, a driver might negligently violate one or more traffic laws, such as by speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, tailgating other vehicles, exhibiting road rage, or running stop signs or red traffic lights, all of which can lead to a forceful collision.
Common car accidents that lead to spinal cord injuries and paralysis include rear-end accidents, in which the front of one vehicle hits the back of another car, and head-on collisions, in which the fronts of two vehicles strike one another.
In addition to car accidents, spinal cord injuries and damage may result from slip-and-fall accidents. These accidents typically happen on another individual or entity’s premises, where the property owner or manager fails to clean up a spill or repair some other defect within a reasonable amount of time. Slip-and-fall accidents are especially common at grocery stores, restaurants, bars, and other locations where food and liquid may spill onto the ground and create a slip hazard.
Property owners have a duty to maintain their premises in a safe condition at all times for the benefit of their visitors. When property owners fail to maintain their premises, and a slip and fall accident occurs, your lawyer may hold the property owner and their insurance company legally liable for the resulting damages.
When a property visitor slips, falls, and lands on their neck or back, they may suffer a spinal cord injury that leads to full or partial paralysis. This is especially true if the accident victim is an elderly individual or if they suffered a previous spinal cord injury.
Finally, some individuals suffer spinal cord damage in construction accidents. Construction workers and builders are especially susceptible to neck and back injuries because they constantly work around heavy and dangerous machines and equipment. When a worker falls off scaffolding or a tall ladder and falls on the ground, they may suffer a debilitating spinal cord injury.
These injuries may also occur when a driver becomes crushed by a heavy piece of equipment or machinery. When construction workers suffer a spinal cord injury while they are on the job and while working within the scope of their employment, they may be eligible to pursue a claim for workers’ compensation benefits from their employer’s insurance company. Moreover, they can file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against a third party seeking additional damages.
If you or a person you love has suffered spinal cord injuries, such as paralysis, in one of these types of accidents, you should contact a skilled attorney in your area for legal representation. Your lawyer can review your accident circumstances with you and review all of your legal options, helping you select the best choice for your case. Your lawyer can also help you file a claim or lawsuit that seeks the full monetary recovery you deserve.
Factors That Affect Monetary Damages in Spinal Cord Injury Cases
The monetary compensation that spinal cord injury victims recover depends upon various case-related factors. These factors include the accident circumstances, the cost and extent of the accident victim’s medical treatment, and whether the accident victim suffered a partial or complete spinal cord injury, such as partial or total paralysis.
Some of the most common monetary damages that victims of spinal cord injuries may recover include compensation for
If the accident victim has to miss time from work or switch jobs and take a pay cut, they may also recover lost-wage compensation or compensation for loss of earning capacity.
A knowledgeable spinal cord injury attorney in your area can help you pursue these monetary damages through settlement or litigation. Settlement negotiations in spinal cord injury cases often take a long time. The accident victim’s lawyer and insurance company adjuster may need to go back and forth over several weeks or months. If neither party agrees to a settlement, the accident victim’s attorney can threaten the insurance company with personal injury litigation.
Accident victims can also take their spinal cord injury case to a civil jury trial or binding arbitration hearing. During a civil jury trial, the accident victim’s lawyer will introduce medical evidence and other testimony, including testimony from a medical expert. The jury will decide the amount of compensation to award the accident victim. At a binding arbitration proceeding, however, the arbitrator will determine how much compensation to award the injury victim.
Burden of Proof in an Accident Case
In a spinal cord injury case that results from someone else’s negligence, the accident victim has to satisfy their legal burden of proof to recover monetary damages:
- The accident victim must demonstrate that the at-fault party owed them a legal duty of care. For example, car and truck operators have a duty to follow all road rules and drive in a careful and safe manner at all times. Similarly, property owners have a duty to repair or warn about dangerous defects on their premises within a reasonable amount of time.
- The injury victim must establish that the at-fault party violated their legal duty in some way and that, as a direct result, their accident occurred.
- The accident victim must show that their spinal cord injury directly resulted from their accident.
An accident victim’s lawyer can use a medical expert to make the causal connection between the accident and their spinal cord injury. These experts are vital when insurance companies challenge the nature and extent of an accident victim’s injuries.
For example, the insurance company adjuster might argue that the injury is preexisting or that it resulted from a prior accident or medical condition. In those situations, the medical provider can review the medical records and determine that the spinal cord injury directly resulted from the occurrence.
Speak to a Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer About Your Spinal Cord Injury Today
If you suffered a spinal cord or paralysis injury in a recent accident that someone else caused, you should take the necessary legal steps right away. In most cases, accident victims, including spinal cord injury victims, have only two years from their accident date to file a lawsuit. If they fail to file a timely lawsuit, the court will prevent them from recovering monetary damages at any future point in time. Therefore, accident victims should always act quickly.
Insurance companies are for-profit companies that make money by collecting more money in the form of monthly premiums than the money they pay to claimants. Therefore, if the insurance company can find a way to not give you the compensation you deserve, it won’t.
A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can analyze the facts and circumstances of your case and help you take the appropriate legal action, whether that be filing a claim or pursuing a lawsuit in the court system. Your lawyer will help you make intelligent and informed decisions, safeguarding your right to recover all of the compensation you deserve for your injuries.