Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injury is a traumatic event resulting in either permanent or temporary damage to the spinal cord, usually referring to the gathering of nerves located in the spinal column but can also refer to the bones, or vertebrae, that serve to protect the spinal cord nerves. The function of the spinal cord is to carry signals to and from the brain and body. An injury to this area of the body may result in full or partial loss of mobility and sensation. A spinal cord injury could leave a victim paralyzed in the lower area of the body, referred to as paraplegic, or in all four limbs, defined as a person with quadriplegia. Since the spinal cord is necessary for so many bodily functions, such as breathing, movement, and comprehension, this creates a situation that becomes all the more devastating for accident victims.
Whether a spinal cord injury is due to a car accident, slip and fall accident, blunt force trauma, or some other cause, it has severe residual effects on both the individual and their loved ones. Spinal cord injuries can mean ongoing medical costs resulting in enormous cumulative bills and can require at-home care, impacting partners and families. If you or a member of your family experienced an accident resulting in a spinal cord injury, you may have cause to file a lawsuit and receive financial compensation for your pain and losses.Establishing a Case for Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuits
Negligence: Often, spinal cord injury lawsuits are argued via a theory of negligence. To be successful in this, it is necessary to prove the other party is responsible or "at fault." For example, if a slip and fall occurred at a business, it is essential to show their negligence, such as the presence of a slippery surface, which caused the injury. This can also start to blend into the area of premise law, which can also get complicated.
Product Liability: In this case, you may be arguing that a particular product is responsible for the spinal cord injury. To give an example, if you were in a car and an airbag did not properly deploy and this resulted in severe spinal cord injury, the reasoning may be due to product failure. This type of failure carries with it a liability and the manufacturer holds a level of responsibility for your injuries.
As you may have noticed from the above examples, various parties can be held liable for the circumstances surrounding a spinal cord injury. As you establish your case, one of the first steps will be to determine the responsible party for your injuries.
Responsible parties can include:
- Medical personnel such as doctors and surgeons
- Product manufacturers such as seat belt manufacturing companies
- Businesses that operate potentially dangerous equipment with disregard to proper safety precautions
- Individuals such as motor vehicle drivers who acted in a manner that cause your injury
Spinal cord injuries result from various types of trauma and, as such, can be very different in type of injury or presentation of symptoms.
Types of spinal cord injuries include:
- Paraplegia – loss of movement and sensation through the lower parts of the body due to damage to the thoracic, lumbar, or sacral sections of the spinal column.
- Quadriplegia – loss of movement and sensation throughout the upper and lower parts of the body due to damage to the cervical section of the spinal column.
- Spinal contusions – bruising of the spinal column as a result of inflammation and bleeding.
- Partial paralysis – limitations of movement resulting in only partial mobility of one or more digits or limbs.
- Spastic quadriplegia – severe spasms in the limbs or spastic attacks in the limbs as a direct result of spinal column injury.
- Central cord syndrome – damage to the central spinal column resulting in limb weakness, weakness in extremities, loss of sensation, or partial paralysis.
- Hemiplegia – complete immobilization (or paralysis) of one half of the body.
As if a spinal cord injury is not devastating enough, it can cause even greater emotional turmoil when the insurance companies try to shift blame onto the victim. There are some common defenses they may try to use to maneuver around the claim. We have experience navigating their tactics and fighting the obstacles they try to use to deny your claim and fair settlement.Important Things to Consider
Spinal cord injuries are categorized as either complete or incomplete. Although there are many degrees and types of injury, these two basic classifications allow for a general understanding of the injury severity.
Incomplete spinal cord injuries are those in which the person has lost some degree of sensation or movement, but still retains at least a minor amount. Complete spinal cord injury refers to those injuries where the person has lost all sensation or movement.
In all cases, immediate and emergency medical treatment should be sought in order to have the best chance for recovery. Many patients these days improve beyond their initial diagnosis, so it’s important to maintain as much positivity and hope as possible during your recovery period.Spinal Cord Injury Case Trends
Spinal cord injury cases often see monetary awards over $1 million. Recent settlements include medical malpractice and motor vehicle accidents.California and Non-Economic Damages
In California, a victim’s pain and suffering damages are considered part of a broader category, referred to as “non-economic” damages. These would include future medical expenses and lost wages, among other potential losses to life and property values.Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Spinal Cord Injury?
A spinal cord injury, or SCI, refers to any damage to the spinal column. The spinal column is made up of vertebrae and nerve bundles, and any damage to these incredibly vital structures can have lasting and painful effects. Spinal cord injuries cause losses in movement, mobility, and sensation.
How Do I Afford Treatment for my Spinal Cord Injury?
If your injury is the direct result of the negligence or wrongdoing of another party, then you could be awarded compensation for your pain and suffering. This compensation amount includes the costs associated with treatment, recovery, and care in the aftermath of your injury.
How Much is my Spinal Cord Injury Worth?
There is no clear way to determine this without at least a consultation. Damages are awarded based on injury severity and both short-term and long-term disabilities resulting from the injury. Due to the generally severe and long-lasting nature of spinal cord injuries, however, it is not uncommon to see settlement awards in the millions with the help of an experienced lawyer.
How Much Time do I Have to File my Claim?
The sooner you file the better. The California statute of limitations provides a general window of two years for personal injury claims, with a shortened window of six months if the at-fault party is a government entity. Consult with a lawyer as soon as possible to find out the exact window of your case and how to best proceed.How We can Help
If you experienced a spinal cord injury, contact us at Bridgewater Law Group. Our knowledgeable and experienced staff will work for you. We will not stop until we know we have gotten the best settlement to compensate for your pain and suffering. You focus on your recovery, let us do the rest. If we do not win a settlement, there is no fee to you.
Call us today for your free consultation!