Whether you sustained a spinal cord injury from a car accident, a fall, or some other cause, the impact of your injury on your life and your family can be devastating. Not only that but the costs associated with spinal cord injury can quickly add up. The good news is that you may be able to file a spinal cord injury lawsuit and get compensation for your injuries and losses. Let’s take a look at what a spinal cord injury is and the kinds of legal issues you should expect to arise out of your case.
Defining A Spinal Cord Injury
A spinal cord injury is defined as damage to the nerves housed within the spinal column or backbone. A spinal cord injury can leave you paralyzed in all four of your limbs or in the lower part of your body. The spinal cord is responsible for a number of bodily functions such as sexual functioning, bladder, body temperature and even breathing. That’s why you can suffer serious health problems as a result of a spinal cord injury.
What are the Causes of a Spinal Cord Injury?
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, spinal cord injuries are commonly caused by:
- Car accidents
- Violence like gun shots
- Sporting activities
Spinal cord injuries can also be the result of medical errors that happen during surgical procedures involving the neck and the back. Some of these errors can be attributed to medical malpractice.
Legal Basis of Your Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit
Most personal injury lawsuits including spinal cord lawsuits are based on negligence. If your injury was as a result of a car accident, you will need to prove that the other driver was responsible.
Unfortunately, determining legal fault is not as easy as we all wish it would be. These are some of the questions that you might need to answer to prove liability:
- Were you where you were supposed or wasn’t supposed to be? Were you in an area where you should have expected to get into an accident? For instance, were you walking on the highway after dark? More than 90% of accidents involving pedestrians walking on the road happen after dark.
- Were you careless and to what extent was your carelessness responsible for the accident?
There is also the possibility that more than one person could be responsible for your accident. For instance, for instance if you were involved in a trucking accident, you might have to file a lawsuit against the truck driver as well as the company that hired him.
You might be entitled to compensation if you were harmed by a defective product. A great example would be the case of a faulty seatbelt or airbag installed into your car. You would be entitled to compensation from the company that designed, manufactured and sold the products.
There are different kinds of defective product liability claims. The first category is for products that have been defectively manufactured. In such a case, the error could have been made at the factory or at some point between where the product was manufactured and where it was bought.
The second category involved products that were defectively designed. It’s important to note that in this case the product may have been correctly manufactured but its design made it dangerous. More importantly, these cases do not affect just one faulty product, it affects the entire line of products.
The third category is the failure to provide adequate warning about the proper use of the product. This is also sometimes referred to as a defective marketing claim.
Common Defenses You’ll Hear in Your Spinal Cord Injury Case
It’s not unusual for the defendant to accuse you of carelessness so they shouldn’t be held liable for the accident. For example, over speeding is a factor in many spinal cord injury cases and the defendant might argue that over speeding was the reason why you got into an accident and sustained spinal cord injuries. This is what is known as contributory negligence.
According to the Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 231, section 85, contributory negligence won’t prevent you from recovery as long as your negligence is not greater than that of the defendant. However, the amount you will receive in damages will reduce in proportion to your attributed negligence. In determining whether you were negligent, the judge may consider whether you violated a statute, regulation or ordinance.
Assumption of Risk
If you were participating in a dangerous sport or activity like race car driving, bungee jumping, etc. the defendant will argue that you knew about the risks prior to participating.
How Much is Your Spinal Cord Injury Case Worth?
As with any personal injury lawsuit, you are entitled to compensation for the losses caused by your accident. Compensation is designed to restore you back to your pre-accident condition. These are the different types of damages you might receive:
- Medical Treatment
Almost all damages awards include the cost of medical treatment. Since spinal cord injuries can have permanent and life threatening effects, your damages award may include compensation for ongoing healthcare and rehabilitation, modification to your home by adding stairlifts and ramps and the cost of assistive devices like motorized wheelchairs.
You will be compensated for the money you’ve already lost and the money you would have been able to make in the future were it not for the accident.
- Pain and Suffering
You will be compensated for any serious pain and discomfort you felt because of your injuries and aso for any ongoing pain.
- Emotional Distress
Spinal cord injuries can have a psychological impact including fear, insomnia, etc.
If you are thinking of filing your own spinal cord injury lawsuit, you should know that it involves more complex medical and legal issues than most other personal injury lawsuits. You need to speak to an expert who can build a solid case for you while protecting your rights.