Serious, long-term health problems can result from spinal cord injuries. Under the level of the injury, a person may lose most to all of their motor control and sensation.
Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers
What Type of Accidents Result in Spinal Cord Injuries?
Usually, spinal cord injuries occur when the spinal cord is pinched or severed as a result of a violent blow.
The following types of injuries often cause damage to the spinal cord:
- Automobile accidents
- Sports-related accidents
- Gunshot or knife wounds
- Heavy objects falling
How to Prove Liability for Spinal Cord Injuries
The person you are suing must be responsible for your injuries in order for you to bring a personal injury lawsuit. Your injuries must be caused by the negligent or intentional actions of another in order to establish liability. A second step is to demonstrate the effects of the injury, including the types of treatment needed.
A person can sustain a serious back injury in many ways. Compensation may be available for some of them.
In the following circumstances, compensation may be available to a person who has suffered a back injury:
- Workers Compensation: If a back injury or condition has been sustained in the course of a person’s employment, they may make a claim under their state’s workers’ compensation system. When a worker shows they have been injured at work, a state workers’ compensation system will pay them directly;
- Negligence: The negligence of another person can be responsible for a person’s back injury. For example, a person may slip and fall on a wet floor in a grocery store in a spot where a grocery store employee spilled water and did not clean it up or post a hazard warning. Or, if a surgeon attempts surgery to correct a back problem and it makes the injury worse, this would be the basis for a claim of medical malpractice based on a theory of negligence;
- Criminal Activity: If a person has been the victim of a criminal act, such as a criminal battery or a shooting, it is possible to file a civil claim for tort liability against the perpetrator of the crime. To pay a civil judgment, the perpetrator must have money. The victim can recover if the perpetrator has insurance or personal assets from which a judgment can be paid. In the absence of assets or insurance, suing the perpetrator would be pointless;
- Civil Liability for Tort Claims: There are a number of torts other than negligence that can lead one person to be civilly liable for causing injury to another person. There are intentional torts such as false imprisonment or invasion of property. A person who suffers injury due to one or more of these torts may be entitled to compensation;
- Strict Product Liability: Under the theory of strict product liability, the victim who is injured by a defective product does not have to prove that the manufacturer or distributor of a product has been negligent. In order to recover damages, an injured party must only prove that the product was defective in some way;
- Social Security Disability: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are the two largest federal programs that may provide financial support to people who are unable to work because of a disability. Consequently, if a person’s back injury is caused by an illness, such as arthritis, or is not caused by someone or something else that can be sued for compensation, they may need to file for SSDI.
A person can file an initial claim for disability benefits online, by phone, or in person at their local Social Security Field Office. However, it is important to note that more than 60% of initial claims are denied. So, if a person files on their own and is denied, they would want to consult an experienced social security disability lawyer who can help them appeal the denial and hopefully find success with their claim.
SSI is a much more limited program at the federal level. The program is only available to people who are disabled, blind, or at least 65 years old and who have very limited financial resources. SSI would not be available to people who have worked for 10 years or more and have retired. It is exclusively for those who, for whatever reason, have very limited personal financial resources. A person who has never worked for some reason and does not qualify for retirement social security benefits may qualify for SSI.
An individual can receive $841 a month from the SSI program in 2022, and a couple can receive $1,261 if both members qualify. A person is not eligible for SSI if his or her “countable income” exceeds the amounts stated in Social Security.
What Type of Damages Can Be Recovered for Spinal Cord Injuries?
When motor function and sensation are completely lost below the level of the injury, recovery is usually limited. The reason for this is that there is no current treatment for complete loss.
Additional medical bills and treatments may be recovered if the loss is only partial. Spinal cord injuries may qualify you for Social Security disability payments.
Nonetheless, the individual may be able to recover for the following:
- Necessary and reasonable medical expenses
- Loss of earnings (both presently and in the future)
- Any other injuries caused directly by the injury
- Pain and suffering (both physical and mental)
- Inability to enjoy life
- Exemplary or punitive damages for negligent or reckless conduct
It is always important to keep in mind that a person’s claim for compensation will only succeed if the person responsible for their injury has the funds to cover any judgment.
State laws also establish workers’ compensation programs. Every state has a workers’ compensation program, but the forms and amounts of compensation vary. U.S. workers’ compensation programs are not uniform.
Additionally, SSDI and SSI only offer a monthly payment and are not based on the nature of the injury or the cost of treatment.
Who Can be Held Liable?
In the event of severe back pain caused by an accident, an individual may be able to recover damages or other legal remedies, including:
- Monetary damages awards, which can be used to cover:
- Hospital visits;
- Lost wages;
- Lost earning capacity; and
- Future medical treatment (e.g., physical therapy);
- Damages for pain and suffering, or emotional distress;
- Loss of consortium;
- Punitive damages; and/or
- Changes to work policies or safety standards.
Some examples of parties who can be held liable for severe back pain injuries include:
- Private individuals;
- Supervisors or subcontractors;
- Business or property owners;
- Local governments;
- Manufacturers or distributors of defective products;
- Coaches or sports trainers; and
- Medical professionals or staff (e.g., physicians, nurses, hospital organizations, etc.).
What If a Person Intentionally Caused My Injury?
An individual intentionally injured by another person can sue under intentional tort laws. An example of this is where the spinal injury resulted from a battery. Such cases require the plaintiff to prove that the defendant intentionally contacted the plaintiff in a harmful or offensive manner, thereby injuring them. Criminal charges can also be brought for intentional injuries.
Should I Contact an Attorney?
Spinal cord injuries usually require specialized knowledge of related cases. Hiring a personal injury attorney that specializes in spinal cord injuries will assure that you receive the right amount of damages to ensure that life will not be made more difficult than it already has as a result of the injury.
Depending on the facts of your case, your lawyer may recommend a lawsuit for negligence, a workers’ compensation claim, or SSDI benefits. If necessary, your lawyer can represent you in negotiations or in court.
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