What You Need to Know About Spinal Cord Injuries
While spinal cord injuries can lead to serious medical consequences, the legal system provides a way for victims of negligence to receive fair compensation.
Hear the words “spinal injury” and many people shudder. That’s for good reason: Serious spinal injuries can have dramatic impacts on your health and quality of life – and these impacts can persist for years, decades or even a lifetime.
According to federal data, there are nearly 18,000 serious spinal injuries in the United States each year.
Causes of these injuries are varied. Some of the most common include:
Spinal cord injuries vary widely in severity. A herniated disc or sciatica may resolve naturally over time, allowing the person to recover fully. However, a crushed vertebrae or another more serious injury may lead to much more far-reaching and permanent changes.
The consequences of a spinal injury of this type can be severe. These symptoms may include paralysis and numbness in the extremities; loss of coordination and sensation; loss of bowel control; difficulty breathing; difficulty walking and pain and nerve damage.
Because the spinal cord cannot grow new cells, injuries are often irreversible and lead to lifelong disability. These disabilities can dramatically lower one’s quality of life, impact future earning power and result in ongoing healthcare costs that many people cannot afford.
Fortunately, the law provides an avenue for compensation for people who have suffered a spinal cord injury due to the negligence of another. Victims can sue for pain and suffering, emotional distress, medical bills, lost wages and loss of consortium.
The legal standard for negligence is well-defined. A victim must prove that the person who caused their injury failed to act in a reasonable manner when they had a duty to do so. In other words, you must prove a duty of care existed, and that the other party failed to uphold that duty.
For example, if a driver speeds through a red light because that driver was distracted by a text, this may constitute negligence, and make that person liable for any injuries that were suffered as a result.
In addition to negligence, spinal cord injury liability may also be established in cases of defective products. Here’s one example: If someone uses a ladder with a design flaw that causes instability and later suffers a spinal cord injury after a fall, they may be able to sue the manufacturer and receive compensation.
Given the severity of spinal cord injuries, settlements and legal awards can be significant, often exceeding $1 million in serious cases. However, these plaintiffs often require expensive lifelong care.
This means that it is critically important to find a legal representative that has the experience to litigate the most complex spinal cord injury cases. Insurers and opposing attorneys are skilled negotiators who are incentivized to get spinal injury victims to settle for the lowest financial compensation possible. The right attorney can even the playing field and help ensure that victims are treated fairly and with compassion.
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