Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer

This page is about spinal cord injuries in car accidents and their settlement value.  Our lawyers have handled over 1,000 spinal cord injury claims. We dig down in every one of those cases deeply to maximize the compensation for our clients. Through that process, our spinal cord injury attorneys have learned a lot about spinal cord injuries and their settlement amounts, and we pass that knowledge along to you on this page.

Our lawyers have had spinal cord injuries in low-impact collisions. They can happen. But they are rare.  Most injuries to the spinal cord are in more significant impact car and truck accident cases.  Spinal cord injuries are common in auto accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, and other serious accident cases. If a spinal cord injury has destroyed your life, the spinal cord injury lawyer you hire will impact how much money you recover.  There is no question about that. You need a skilled, experienced, and aggressive spinal cord injury lawyer to fight for the maximum level of compensation in your case.

The personal injury lawyers at Miller & Zois have spent the last few decades fighting for spinal cord accident victims. We are a nationally recognized personal injury firm that other law firms often turn to when they need someone to handle their most significant and complicated cases. If you want to talk to a spinal cord injury attorney about your claim and how to maximize your settlement payout, call today at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.

Our Spinal Injury Lawyers Understand the Impacts of Spinal Cord Injury

The human spinal cord is not only the literal backbone of our body, but it is also the pathway for nerves that the brain uses to send electrical signals that control the lower half of the body. When the spinal cord suffers significant physical trauma or injury, the nerve pathways in the spine may no longer be able to transmit communications from the brain. This can result in lower body paralysis, which is often permanent.

Even if there is no paralysis, spinal cord injuries can cause a loss of sensation and impaired strength and movement coordination in the lower body. Victims of spinal cord injuries caused by negligence need an effective spinal cord injury attorney to ensure adequate financial compensation.

Understanding the Spinal Cord

The spinal cord is a long, thin, tubular structure made up of nervous tissue extending from the medulla oblongata in the brainstem to the lumbar region of the vertebral column. It encloses the central canal of the spinal cord that contains cerebrospinal fluid. The nervous tissue serves as the conduit for signals between the brain and the rest of the body. Damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal (cauda equina) from acute physical trauma like a motor vehicle crash can have a devastating impact with permanent changes in strength, sensation, and other body functions essential to pain-free mobility.

Types of Injuries a Spine Injury Attorney Handles

Accidents can result in many different injuries to the spinal cord. Our spine injury lawyers have experience getting compensation for the full range of spinal cord injuries caused by auto accidents and other types of accidents. Some of the more common spine injuries we see in accident cases are outlined below.

Complete Spinal Cord Injuries

A complete spinal cord injury is the most severe type of spinal cord injury.  In a complete spinal cord injury the nerve pathways that connect the brain to the lower body are irreparably damaged. This damage prevents the brain from controlling the muscles in the lower part of the body (anything below the injury point on the spine). The result is a devastating loss of all motor movement and nerve function below the injury, a condition known as paraplegia or quadriplegia. Individuals who suffer these types of spinal injuries will usually never be able to walk again.

Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries

A spinal cord injury is classified as “incomplete” when the nerve pathways for communication with the brain are not completely damaged or severed. With an incomplete spine injury, the brain communications along the nerve pathways can still go through although they may be impaired.

Some degree of movement and sensation in the lower body is retained with an incomplete spinal cord injury. The extent of movement control that remains depends on the severity of the damage. This type of incomplete spinal injury can be one of five categories:

Spinal Contusions & Nerve Damage

Spinal contusions (also called spinal nerve damage) are the most common type of spinal injury in accidents. These injuries are not permanent and have a quick recovery time. However, a spinal contusion can still be a significant injury.  Spinal contusions can cause swelling, bleeding, and pain. These symptoms can lead to additional nerve damage and heart issues.

Treatment Options for Spinal Cord Injury

If you suffer a spinal injury in an accident, paramedics responding to the scene will likely begin by checking to see if you are breathing normally. Spinal cord injuries, especially in the upper spine or neck area, can disrupt breathing and require emergency intervention.

The next step in the initial treatment of suspected spinal cord injuries in an accident is immobilization. EMTs will usually strap you to a backboard and put on a cervical collar to prevent any potential movements that could cause additional damage to the spine.

Once you are immobilized, the first responders will usually avoid any further treatment until an exact diagnosis is made. After a diagnosis is achieved, treatment often starts with could consist of a very high dosage of steroids to curb swelling and inflammation, which can mitigate some of the damage to the spinal cord.

Spinal Cord Surgery

The next potential step in the treatment of a spinal cord injury is often surgery. Initial surgery for spinal cord injuries is aimed at addressing fractured vertebrae that could be putting pressure on the spinal cord. Spinal cord surgery is also done in order to stabilize the spine with the use of rods, plates, and screws. These devices are surgically implanted to help reinforce and hold the vertebral segments together until the bones have healed.  Physical therapy and occupational therapy is usually required following surgery to restore as much function as possible.

Types of Accidents that Cause Spinal Cord Injuries

Approximately 17,000 people suffer spinal cord injuries in the U.S. every year, and almost all of these are the result of preventable accidents. 78% of those suffering spinal cord injuries in the U.S. are men and the average age at the time of injury is 43. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries at 40%. Falls are the second most common cause at 32%. These causes are trailed by violence (13%), sports (8%), and medical/surgery (4%).

Spinal Cord Injuries in Car Accidents

Auto accidents are the leading cause of all spinal cord injuries in the U.S. Just over 4 out of every 10 spinal cord injuries happen in some type of car accident. Motorcycle accidents and tractor-trailer accidents have a particularly high rate of serious spinal cord injuries, because of the impact forces involved.

If you suffer a spinal cord injury in a car or truck accident, the at-fault driver (and their insurance company) can be held legally liable for your injuries. This means that the at-fault driver’s insurance has to cover the cost of your medical expenses, and lost wages, and compensate you for the pain and suffering resulting from your injury. If the other driver’s insurance coverage is not enough to cover everything, you can get additional damages from the underinsured motorist coverage of your own auto insurance policy.

Our lawyers have seen over 1,000 spinal cord injuries.  The high speed and violent jousting of a high-impact crash is an awful recipe for damage to the spinal cord.  Our attorneys have seen many different types of spinal cord injuries in car accidents, but there are some we see repeatedly. Common spinal injuries our law firm sees from car accidents include:

  • Compression: This happens when the impact of the accident causes the vertebrae to compress onto the spinal cord.  This causes pain, stiffness, numbing, tingling, weakness, and the loss of coordination and sensation.
  • Contusion (Bruising): The impact can cause a bruise (contusion) on the spinal cord.  This causes a lot of the same symptoms we just listed above for compression.  A bruised spinal cord has a better chance of healing on its own that a spinal cord compression.
  • Lacerations: Severe accidents can cause fragments of bone, metal, or glass to cut the spinal cord. Lacerations can occur in various degrees of severity, ranging from mild to severe. Mild lacerations may affect only a small portion of the cord and result in temporary or partial loss of function. Severe lacerations, on the other hand, can transect the entire cord and lead to complete loss of function below the level of injury.
  • Severing: As we talk about above, in the most severe cases, the spinal cord may be completely severed. We only see these injuries in high-impact crashes.  Doctors call this a complete spinal cord injury.  This is an awful injury that will have permanent and potentially life-threatening complications.

Spinal Cord Injuries in Slip and Fall Accidents

The second leading cause of spinal cord injuries is “falls.” Three out of every 10 spinal cord injuries are caused by a falling accident. A large percentage of these spinal cord injuries from falling accidents are suffered by elderly victims. Elderly individuals are particularly vulnerable to these injuries because they are more likely to slip and fall and their spinal cord is more delicate.

A large number of the spinal cord injury cases that we handle are lawsuits against nursing homes or assisted living facilities for failing to prevent elderly residents from falling and injuring themselves. Nursing homes or elder care facilities are supposed to take proper measures to prevent residents from falling. Unfortunately, nursing homes are notoriously negligent when it comes to this duty. If an elderly resident suffers a spinal cord injury from a nursing home fall, the nursing home can be held liable for damages.

What Damages Can a Spinal Injury Attorney Get For You?

A spinal cord injury lawyer can get damages in the form of financial compensation to help alleviate the devastating impact this type of injury can have on your life. Damages available in personal injury lawsuits for spinal injuries fall into one of two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages for Spinal Injuries

Economic damages in a personal injury case include actual expenses or money lost as a result of the injury, both past and future. In a spinal injury case, medical expenses are often a very big component of economic damages. Victims can get damages for all medical expenses incurred as a result of their injury, and all future medical expenses that they will reasonably incur in the future.

Lost wages or lost income are the other major part of economic damages. A serious spinal injury can potentially leave you disabled for life, which could mean you are no longer able to earn a living like you did before the accident. Plaintiffs can recover damages not only for income or wages lost while getting treatment but also for future income or wages lost because they are not able to perform their job like before.

Non-Economic (Pain & Suffering) Damages for Spinal Injuries

The second category of damages that a spinal cord injury attorney can get for you is non-economic damages. Non-economic damages are often referred to as pain and suffering damages because these are the damages that can be awarded to a plaintiff to compensate them for the mental pain and anguish caused by the spinal injury. In serious spinal injury cases, especially those involving permanent paralysis, the pain and suffering damages can be very high.

Spinal Cord Injury Settlement Amounts

Our attorneys have put a lot of (figurative) blood, sweat, and tears over the last 20-plus years into what the settlement amount for a spinal cord injury should be. We battle for every client to get them as much money as we possibly can.  One thing is for sure: every case is very similar yet very different.  There are so many swirling factors that go into spinal cord injury settlement amounts it is unbelievable.

  • Liability: Every spinal cord injury claim starts with who is responsible for the harm that was done.  In most cases our spinal injury lawyers handle, liability is either firmly established or it may as well be established because the defense is so weak. The cases where responsibility is in doubt are the cases that are harder to settle for full settlement value (and are much more likely to go to trial).
  • Insurance Policy: To get full compensation, you need an insurance policy that can stand up for the settlement amount or jury payout the claim deserves.
  • Medical Expenses: This includes both past and future medical costs. Expenses such as surgeries, hospital stays, medications, physical therapy, medical equipment (like wheelchairs), and home modifications can be included.
  • Loss of Income and Future Earning Capacity: If the injury has resulted in the victim being unable to work, either temporarily or permanently, this loss of income will be considered in the settlement. The loss of future earning potential is also taken into account, particularly in cases of severe spinal cord injury where the individual may not be able to return to their previous job or any job at all.  This can really inflate settlement amounts, particularly with younger victims.
  • Pain and Suffering: These damages refer to the physical and emotional distress caused by the injury. Factors such as the severity of the pain, the duration of the pain, and the type of injury suffered play a role in determining these damages.
  • Loss of Consortium: In personal injury law, loss of consortium refers to the deprivation of the benefits of a family relationship due to injuries caused by the negligent or intentional act of another.
  • Impact on Quality of Life: If the victim’s enjoyment of life has been diminished due to the injury – for instance, if they can no longer participate in activities they once enjoyed or if their relationships have suffered – this may also be considered.
  • Legal Representation: The skills, experience, and strategies of the victim’s spine injury attorney can play an outsized role in the amount of the settlement payout.  Insurance companies fear spinal cord injury lawyers with a history of success.  So experienced attorneys who can instill that fear are often able to negotiate higher settlement amounts on behalf of their clients.

Spinal Cord Injury Verdicts & Settlements

Below are summaries of reported settlements and verdicts in personal injury cases involving a spinal cord injury as the plaintiff’s primary harm.

  • $200,000 Verdict (2023 Pennsylvania):  A 73-year-old female, reportedly sustained central spinal cord syndrome due to spinal cord compression, as well as loss of teeth, facial contusions, and lacerations, when, after undergoing surgery, she was permitted to leave her bed without supervision and fell. The motorcycle accident lawsuit alleged that the defendant hospital was negligent in failing to properly supervise her.
  • $300,000 Verdict (2022 California): Plaintiff was operating his motorcycle through an intersection when he was struck by a vehicle operated by the defendant when she was attempting to execute a left turn. The plaintiff said the impact caused him to be thrown over the hood of her vehicle. The plaintiff claimed he suffered a spinal cord injury that required him to undergo surgery involving the installation of a spinal cord stimulator due to the impact.
  • $45,000 Settlement (2022 Alabama): The plaintiff was a passenger in the defendant’s vehicle. The defendant was driving over 100 mph and recklessly passing other vehicles when he lost control of the vehicle and caused it to roll over several times. The plaintiff suffered a broken led and spinal cord trauma and filed suit against the defendant.
  • $350,000 Verdict (2022 Montana): The plaintiff was rear-ended by the defendant while stopped at a red light. The plaintiff reportedly suffered cervical disc herniation and a concussion with lesions to the upper cervical spinal cord and lower brainstem resulting in headaches, right-sided weakness, mild sensory disturbance, and visual impairment.
  • $25,000 Settlement (2021 Oregon): The plaintiff in a car accident lawsuit allegedly suffered cervical, thoracic, and lumbar injuries with pain radiating into the right leg and left shoulder; disc bulges causing narrowing of the central canal and impingement on the thecal sac portion of the spinal cord.

Contact Our Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers

Contact the spinal cord injury lawyers at Miller & Zoise for a free consultation to find out if you have a case and how much compensation you can possibly get for it. Contact us by phone at 800-553-8082 or contact us online.

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