What Is My Spinal Cord Injury Claim Worth?
The spinal cord, protected by your vertebrae, is a delicate bundle of nerves that forms your central nervous system. It is one of your body’s most important structures and injury to the spinal cord can cause severe pain, paralysis, or death. In the United States, the leading causes of spinal cord injuries are motor vehicle accidents, followed by falls, violence (primarily gunshot wounds), athletic or recreational activities, and medical complications or malpractice.
Even in the best of circumstances, a spinal cord injury can be a devastating blow. Besides insurmountable medical bills, survivors may deal with ongoing health challenges, such as respiratory difficulties, increased risk of illness, and loss of motor and sensory functions, as well as new financial challenges, and loss of quality of life.
The Settlement Value of a Spinal Cord Injury Will Depend on Its Type and Location
Three Main Spinal Cord Regions:
- Cervical spine (upper back and neck)
- Thoracic spine (mid-back)
- Lumbar spine (lower back)
When a vertebra is damaged, it will impact the parts of the body that are below the location of the injury. The amount of compensation you are owed will depend on the location and severity of your spinal cord injury.
Common types of spinal cord injuries include:
- Fractured Vertebrae
- Herniated or Ruptured Discs
- Bulging Discs
- Pinched nerves
- Spinal Stenosis
2 Types of Spinal Cord Injuries: Complete and Incomplete
Complete Spinal Cord Injuries:
The most severe spinal cord injuries are complete spinal cord injuries. These occur when the injury to the spinal cord eliminates the brain’s ability to send signals below the injury site. For example, an injury to the lumbar region can lead to paralysis below the waist while maintaining function in your upper body (paraplegia).
Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries:
Though less severe, incomplete spinal cord injuries result from compression or damage being inflicted to the spinal cord that reduces the brain’s ability to send signals below the injury site. Incomplete spinal cord injuries will vary greatly from person to person because of the partially compromised condition of the spinal cord. For some, motor and sensory functions may only be slightly compromised, for others, function may be nearly eliminated.
How Will My Spinal Cord Injury Settlement be Calculated?
Your personal injury attorney will push for a settlement so that you receive the compensation you need without spending years in the litigation process.
The amount of damages you are owed is based on a number of factors such as the location and severity of the injury, cost of medical bills and future care, pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, and the degree of negligence involved.
Because spinal cord injuries can be such severe and devastating injuries, settlements tend to significantly larger when compared to other personal injury claims.
Settlements of several hundred thousand dollars to upwards of 1 million are not uncommon.
What Types of Compensation Am I Entitled To For Spinal Cord Injury?
Due to the fact that spinal cord injuries are so damaging and can require extensive treatment, rehabilitation, and physical therapy, the majority of your settlement will go to covering your medical expenses.
The amount you receive will be based on the severity of your injury and take into account if your injuries are permanent or if you need lifelong care.
Be aware that your medical insurance company will be entitled to repayment from your settlement or verdict. This is called subrogation.
Pain and Suffering:
Because spinal cord injuries have a massive impact on your life, a large portion of your settlement will come from emotional, non-financial damages. Chronic pain, emotional distress, and loss of quality of life are all common emotional damages related to spinal cord injuries. In general, the more severe your injury is, the higher your amount of pain and suffering will be.
Loss of Wages:
Due to the seriousness of a spinal cord injury, you could be out of work for several months to several years. You may be in the hospital for a long period of time for treatment of your injury and that will likely be followed up by a lengthy recovery period.
If you can return to work, you will probably have to miss work frequently for doctor's appointments, rehab, and physical therapy treatments.
If you are unable to ever return to work, you can also claim compensation for loss of future earnings.
Seek Local Advice Before Signing Anything!
If you were involved in an accident and suffered a spinal cord injury, the insurance company or your employer will try to get you to sign paperwork right away. Don’t do it!
The insurance companies will try to get you to settle for the lowest amount, often before you’ve been properly diagnosed, and your employer may have you sign away your right to compensation.
The advice of an experienced, local attorney will be an invaluable asset for you at this time.
They will work with your doctors to make sure your spinal cord injury is properly documented, and that extent of your injury is fully understood.
They will also deal with the insurance company for you, so that you can avoid the stress and focus on your treatment.