First things first: you might not have to file a lawsuit following a spinal cord injury to recover damages. Most of these cases resolve through negotiations with insurance providers. Also, filing a lawsuit does not guarantee more money.
Ultimately, how much your spinal cord injury case is worth depends on your situation, including the severity of your condition. An attorney who handles personal injury cases can evaluate your losses, injuries, and other factors to learn what you need. They can also pursue damages by negotiating with the insurer, investigating your losses, or filing a lawsuit. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.
Your Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit Could Include These Losses
You must understand your damages to determine how much you should recover through a claim or lawsuit. Your recoverable damages could comprise:
You could accrue high medical bills when you suffer a spinal cord injury. Depending on your injury’s severity, these expenses could endanger your financial stability. Spinal cord injuries can have expensive treatments and require ongoing care.
Examples of compensable healthcare costs include:
- Ambulance transportation services
- Care from paramedics
- Emergency room treatments
- Long-term hospital stays
- Diagnostic tests
Mayo Clinic reports that spinal cord injuries never fully heal. This means you could require medical care for the rest of your life. Your settlement or court award should account for these expenses. When you hire a personal injury attorney, they can speak to your medical care provider to determine the value of your past, present, and anticipated healthcare costs.
While rehabilitative care isn’t the same as treatment, it hopes to better your quality of life by helping you adapt to your limitations. Yet, rehabilitative care can get costly, even when it’s mostly covered by health insurance.
Your settlement could offer coverage for:
- Adaptive rehab: Depending on the state of your injury, these rehabilitative treatments can teach you how to continue caring for your body. You could also improve your range of motion over time.
- Prevention: When you have a spinal cord injury, you could risk other complications, such as bedsores or falls. Preventative therapy aims to prevent anything that could worsen your condition.
- Hydrotherapy. Hydrotherapy is when you partake in water-based exercises (like water aerobics) to strengthen your muscles and prevent atrophy. Being in water makes it easier to accomplish certain exercises, like walking in place or lifting objects.
These rehabilitative treatments could significantly improve your mobility and quality of life after a spinal cord injury. You should have the opportunity to get the treatments you need without worrying about cost—and a lawyer can help you secure those funds.
Lost Earnings and Other Revenue Streams
Shortly after the accident, you could lose your ability to work while you heal. This could impair your ability to make ends meet.
Through a claim or lawsuit, you could seek compensation for all the income you lost during your recovery, including:
- Freelance contracts
- Gigs (such as performances)
- Hourly earnings
An attorney can collect evidence to prove you lost income and deserve compensation. For example, they could speak to your employer to determine how much income you lost because of your injuries. Also, they can review your pay stubs and W2s to learn more about what you deserve.
Diminished Future Earning Capacity
A spinal cord injury could prevent you from working ever again. If you can work, you could be unable to maintain the same number of hours or keep your current position. As a result, your injury could hurt your earning capacity. Yet, the law allows you to seek damages for this hardship.
Depending on the location of your spinal cord injury, you could lose mobility and require assistive devices, such as:
- Power-assisted wheelchairs
- Adapted walking shoes
Assistive equipment could cost a lot of money. Yet, if another party’s negligence caused your condition, you shouldn’t have to stress about paying for these devices on your own. That’s the liable party’s obligation, and your lawyer can hold them to it.
Modifications to Your Home or Vehicle
When you suffer a spinal cord injury, you could need to modify your home so you can get around, especially if your accident leaves you in a wheelchair.
Home modifications you might have to make include:
- Making doors and hallways wider
- Installing a shower chair and grab bar
- Creating easier access to your bed
- Adding ramps to anywhere you have to use stairs
- Changing the height of outlets or other electrical plugins
- Lowering counters so you can reach them
If you have a family member or someone to drive you from place to place, they might need a modified vehicle to accommodate your condition. You can include ramps, lifts, and other alterations in your case’s value.
Completing day-to-day tasks can become difficult in the aftermath of a spinal cord injury. You shouldn’t have to struggle with basic tasks. You could hire a maid, in-home caretaker, or another party to help you.
These services may include:
- Helping accomplish daily tasks, such as eating and brushing your teeth
- Cleaning the house
- Rotating you in your bed to avoid bed sores
- Walking your dog
- Mowing the lawn
- Supervising your children
Your life isn’t over after suffering a spinal cord injury. With an in-home aide or assistant, you can continue living your life to the best of your ability.
After suffering from a spinal cord injury, your risk of developing a negative psychological issue increases significantly.
These issues include conditions like:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Substance abuse
While these hardships don’t come with tangible dollar values, they’re still compensable. Your attorney can consult with your mental health team to learn more.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering refers to your injury’s effect on your physical health, emotional well-being, and future. How much you can receive for these expenses depends on many things, including your mobility and quality of life. Many states do not cap how much you can seek for pain and suffering. So, this could comprise a generous portion of your injury claim or lawsuit’s value.
Some spinal cord injuries can leave you disabled for the rest of your life, leaving you dependent on others. Compensation for disability can account for these hardships, and it’s separate from the program offered by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
What’s the Average Value of a Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit?
There is no straightforward answer regarding the average value of a spinal cord injury lawsuit. That’s because there’s no centralized database that keeps track of these outcomes. How much you can recover depends on many aspects unique to your situation, including your mobility and earning power.
A lawyer aims to fight for everything you need to make you financially whole again.
How Long Do I Have to File a Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit?
How long you have to file your lawsuit depends on where you live and who caused your injury. For instance, if you live in South Carolina, you generally have three years to file your lawsuit. Yet, if the negligent party was a government agency, the state gives you only two years to file.
You need a lawyer who knows your case’s filing deadline, so you don’t lose the right to seek compensation through a lawsuit. A spinal cord injury lawyer can assess your case’s statute of limitations and uphold your right to damages.
What Should I Expect After Filing a Lawsuit?
After filing a lawsuit, the overseeing court will set a trial date.
From there, your lawyer may:
- Take depositions from witnesses
- Consult with field experts
- Exchange information with the other party’s legal team
- Make any pre-trial motions
- Argue your case at trial
- Fight for what you need
As noted, most spinal cord injury cases don’t involve lawsuits. This means, chances are, you won’t have to go through the motions of a lawsuit. Instead, you could recover damages through negotiations with the liable insurer.
What Are Some Obstacles I Could Face in My Spinal Cord Injury Case?
Some obstacles you could experience after filing your personal injury case include:
- The insurer denies liability. Many insurance companies know that spinal cord injury claims are high-stakes matters—and they want to save money. So, the insurer could dispute liability for your losses or otherwise deny your claim. This could make it difficult to recover the damages you need.
- You don’t have enough supporting evidence. With a lawyer, you get more than legal help; you get an investigator. They can use their resources to find evidence that can support your case. This information may include the police report, eyewitness testimony, and your medical records.
- The insurance company lowballs your losses. Even after presenting evidence of your losses, the insurance company may still offer less than you need. In that instance, your lawyer could negotiate for a fair deal. They can also explain whether filing a lawsuit could meet your needs.
What Should I Do After Suffering a Spinal Cord Injury?
Your health should be among your top priorities after any accident. This involves adhering to your doctor’s treatment plan and taking all medications as prescribed.
Aside from your health:
- Request a copy of the police or accident report. This document offers a firsthand account of what caused your spinal cord injury.
- Notify your insurance company. Even if you didn’t cause your injury, your insurer still wants to know about it. You could even have coverage options that you didn’t know about.
- Keep all documentation related to your case. You want as much documentation to support your case as possible. These items may include x-rays, receipts, and written testimony.
- Refuse to give the insurer a recorded statement. The insurance company may ask for a recorded statement, hoping you’ll somehow implicate yourself as causing the accident. When you work with a lawyer, they can supply the insurer with the information needed to process your claim.
- Refrain from allegations of fault. Even if you admit some fault for your accident and injuries, the insurer could use this information against you. This could complicate your case’s outcome and prevent you from recovering fair compensation.
- Hire a spinal cord injury lawyer. They can assess your losses and advocate for what you deserve.
How Much Does a Spinal Injury Lawyer Cost?
You could get legal representation from a personal injury attorney without having to pay money upfront. Many spinal cord injury lawyers who represent injury victims do not charge for their legal services unless they help you reach a successful outcome.
When you reach out to an attorney, you can expect:
- A free consultation: Many spinal cord injury lawyers offer free consultations to prospective clients. During this conversation, you can discuss your case with a legal professional and learn more about your next steps. There’s no obligation to partner with the firm when you call, either; this is a complimentary discussion that aims to answer your questions.
- Help on a contingency-fee basis: You only pay your attorney a percentage of the compensation you recover at the end of your case. If your attorney doesn’t help you recover compensation, you don’t have to pay anything.
You Will Benefit From Having a Spinal Cord Lawyer Evaluate Your Case
Contacting an attorney after someone’s negligence causes your spinal cord injury could help your case tremendously. They can gather supporting evidence, negotiate a settlement, and seek the best possible outcome for your case.