Suffering a catastrophic injury, like a spinal cord injury (SCI), can devastate victims and their families. SCIs affect the victim’s daily activities and physical, mental, and financial health. More than 12,000 new spinal cord injuries occur every year in the U.S. Putting together a claim for a spinal cord injury requires knowing who caused the injury, its severity, its impact on your life, and its financial implications.
At Nessler & Associates, our legal team is dedicated to seeking justice if you sustained a spinal cord injury that wasn’t your fault. We have decades of experience handling accident claims for spinal injuries. We are prepared to take on the insurance companies, and we are equally prepared to fight for your rights in court to get the compensation you deserve.
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries can occur from several types of accidents. Common causes of these injuries include:
- Motor vehicle accidents: The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center reports that 38.6% of spinal cord injuries result from vehicle crashes.
- Falls: Falls from slips and trip accidents are the most common cause of spinal cord injuries. Other causes include falls from buildings, staircases, and ladders.
- Wounds from gunshots: Gunshot wounds often result in injuries to the ribs. They can also injure the nerves in the cervical spine.
- Motorcycle accidents: Motorcyclists are more vulnerable to severe injuries than other vehicles due to a lack of protection. A serious spinal injury is more likely to occur when a motorcycle collides with an object than when it crashes onto the ground.
- Medical complications potentially caused by malpractice: A spinal cord injury can result from medical errors such as nipping a spinal nerve during spine surgery. Medical or surgical procedures have caused about 4.2% of spinal cord injuries since 2015.
- On-the-job: If your injury occurred at work, your employer’s worker’s compensation insurance covers the damages. However, if a third party or defective equipment caused your injury, you may be able to hold that individual or the manufacturer liable.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
SCIs cause symptoms ranging from loss of feeling in part of the limbs to loss of control of every aspect of the body. The symptoms you experience depend on the severity and location of the injury. Temporary damage may be caused by swelling in the spinal canal, but permanent damage usually involves trauma to the spinal cord.
Injuries to the neck’s cervical spine can result in loss of movement and sensation in the arms, legs, and trunk. They can impair control over breathing, which compromises speech ability.
Complete spinal cord damage causes a loss of function of muscles controlling the limbs and trunk, called quadriplegia or tetraplegia. Some people with tetraplegia may need adaptive devices to help them write, type, and use the phone.
People with cervical injuries require a wheelchair with unique controls for mobility. They also have to rely on other people for help with daily chores. People dependent on wheelchairs and other assistive devices experience a more significant decrease in quality of life.
Upper thoracic injuries between your ribs affect everything from the muscles in your chest, mid-back, and abdomen down, possibly affecting your breathing ability. Lower thoracic injuries involve the lower abdominal and back muscles, which you use for balance and stability, and cough and clear your airway.
Complete injuries to the thoracic spinal cord lead to loss of motor function and paralysis in the trunk and legs, called paraplegia. Those who suffer from paraplegia need to undergo physical therapy and occupational therapy to regain basic motor skills and manage pain.
Lumbar and sacral regions
A spinal cord injury in the lumbar region usually affects the person from the hips down. Depending on the exact location and severity, some people may need to walk using special braces, while others will rely on a wheelchair.
Sacral region injuries lead to loss of sensation and function of the pelvic organs, including the bladder, bowel, and genitals. Lumbar injuries affect people’s control over their bladder and bowels, but they might not have to rely on other people for help. These people may permanently need assistive devices and modifications to their homes and vehicles.
Spinal cord injuries are devastating, and the impact of these injuries extends far beyond the physical limitations they cause. Victims of spinal cord injuries may experience mental anguish and emotional distress, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
If another party’s careless or reckless actions caused your injury, you can hold the negligent party responsible with the help of an experienced lawyer. Our personal injury lawyers at Nessler & Associates work tirelessly to build a foolproof case and can help you get fair compensation for your SCI.
The Financial Impact of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries can affect your finances for the current and future costs of your medical care. Costs can exceed a hundred thousand dollars and place profound hardship on the patients. For the first year, the medical treatment expenses when a person has high tetraplegia are more than $1 million. The lifetime cost for that same person who gets injured at 25 years old is $4.72 million.
When you receive a spinal injury, your ability to work at your old job might be affected. You may need to work fewer hours or with fewer physical demands. If you cannot work at your old job or can no longer work, you may receive compensation for loss of wages and future earning capacity.
Factors Involved in a Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit
Many factors influence the award your lawyer seeks. These include your age and health, the treatment, and the severity of your injury. This step is critical to your personal injury lawsuit and benefits from the experience of a seasoned lawyer with a track record of successful verdicts and settlements.
Severity of injuries
The amount and quality of evidence to support your injury claims can improve the outcome of your claim and maximize your settlement. Evidence like medical bills can prove your injury and its severity. This includes the cost of future medical treatment and rehabilitation. Proving your injury exists and is as severe as you claim also requires statements from medical professionals.
Age and health
People who are younger and healthier at the time of the injury are more likely to receive higher awards. This is due to the impact on a healthy individual and the length of time you will need medical care due to your injury.
Cause of injury
The reckless behavior of the other party that led to your accident may influence the amount you seek. Your lawyer can use surveillance footage, photos, and witness testimonies to prove the responsible party acted negligently.
There may be multiple parties who may attempt to determine fault after an accident. The insurance company works with an adjuster and may try to argue your injuries were not the result of an accident.
A personal injury attorney can investigate your claim to determine fault and protect your rights to a fair settlement. Your attorney can work on a premises liability claim if your spinal cord injury resulted from a slip-and-fall accident under Illinois’ premises liability law.
You can trust the personal injury lawyers at Nessler & Associates to advocate on your behalf throughout the legal process. Some steps we take include:
- In-depth investigation
- Filing claim forms with support documentation
- Negotiating with insurance companies
- Filing paperwork to initiate litigation
- Representing you at trial
Illinois uses a modified comparative negligence rule to determine the percentage of liability in an accident. If your actions contributed to less than 50% of the accident, you can receive an award, but the portion of your contribution reduces it. For example, if you are awarded $100,000 but contributed 10% to the accident, you can claim $90,000.
The defense might claim that your injury resulted from something other than their client’s actions. If your injury resulted from negligence during a dangerous activity, the defense might argue that you agreed to take the risk.
Even if you signed a liability waiver before your accident, contact the personal injury attorneys at Nessler & Associates for a free case evaluation. Liability waivers don’t give business owners license to be reckless, careless, or negligent.
Illinois allows spinal cord injury survivors to seek compensation for financial losses related to their injuries and medical treatment. Economic damages in a compensation claim include:
- Current and future medical costs
- Expenses for physical therapy and other therapies that assist in everyday activities, assistive and mobility equipment
- Home and vehicle modifications
- Loss of wages and loss of future earning capacity.
Non-economic damages are a form of compensation that cannot be quantified by medical bills and lost earning capacity, such as:
- Mental anguish
- Physical pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life for your loss of everyday activities and activities you enjoy, including sports, recreation, social activities, and household chores
- Loss of consortium when an injured spouse can’t provide the same level of companionship, love, comfort, support, services, and physical intimacy they could before the accident
- Chronic pain
If your loved one passes away because of an SCI, no amount of money can bring them back. However, a wrongful death lawsuit can provide your family with the financial resources to move forward.
Contact a Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Today
Our spinal cord injury attorneys have witnessed life-altering consequences of negligence. When you face a long road to recovery, the spinal cord injury lawyers at the law office of Nessler & Associates are dedicated to fighting for maximum compensation on your behalf.
For more information on your rights and the legal action you can pursue, call our law firm today at (800) 727-8010 for a free, no-obligation initial consultation.
Once we learn more about your situation, our team of skilled personal injury attorneys can develop a strategy to help you maximize your compensation and get the justice you deserve for your spinal cord injury claim.
We never charge legal fees unless we win a settlement or judgment for your case.