Trauma to the spine can have life-changing or even deadly consequences. In addition to causing partial or total paralysis, back pain, and nerve damage, the World Health Organization reports that spinal cord injuries increase the risk of early death by two to five times.
If you or a loved one have suffered a spinal cord injury in Illinois, you may be entitled to compensation. Learn more about your legal rights after a spinal cord injury with Nessler & Associates.
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Any form of physical impact to the spine can result in spinal cord injuries. However, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Development, over 40% of spinal cord injuries since 2005 were the result of motor vehicle accidents, like car or truck accidents. Slips and falls were the second most common cause, accounting for 27.9% of accidents.
Less frequently, these injuries can result from inadequate or negligent care. For example, medical negligence during back surgery can damage the spinal cord. Similarly, a 2021 study found that 93.8% of medical malpractice claims against chiropractors were related to a spinal injury.
What Are My Rights After a Spinal Cord Injury?
Your legal rights after a spinal cord injury depend on what caused your injury. However, most victims of spinal cord injuries are eligible for other avenues of financial support.
If your spine injury prevents you from working, you have the right to file for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSDI provides monthly payments, so you have money to support yourself. Those with minimal income and possessions may also be eligible to file for monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, which can help you cover the cost of basic needs.
Those injured on the job also have the right to file for workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation covers all medical treatment and rehabilitation services related to your injury. It will pay a portion of your lost wages if your injury prevents you from working at full capacity.
In some cases, you also have the right to pursue legal action against the person or organization who caused your injury. For instance, if you were injured in a car accident where the other driver was at fault, you could file a personal injury case against the driver to cover your medical bills.
What Are My Rights if I Lost a Loved One to a Spinal Cord Injury?
Those who lost a spouse or family member to a spine injury are also eligible to pursue financial and legal support in the aftermath of their loved one’s death.
Surviving spouses and children under 18 may be entitled to survivor benefits from certain programs. For instance, the federal Social Security Survivor Benefit program provides monthly payments to minor children and sometimes the deceased’s spouse. Dependent parents may be eligible in certain circumstances.
You and your children may also be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if the fatal injury occurred at work. A surviving spouse or relative will receive $8,000 to cover post-death arrangements like a funeral. In addition, the spouse is eligible for monthly payments unless they remarry, while children are eligible for monthly payments until they turn 18.
Survivors should also know that they are under no legal obligation to pay the loved one’s debts in most circumstances. While there are a few exceptions (e.g., if you cosigned a loan), these debts are generally handled by the loved one’s estate. Consult with an attorney if you are unsure whether you are responsible for a debt.
If the fatal injury occurred due to someone else’s negligence, you may have the right to file a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death claim can help you recover income lost due to your loved one’s death, cover memorial services, and fund services like therapy for survivors.
Can I Sue the Person Responsible?
In some cases, you may be able to hold another party liable for your injury. However, whether you have a valid claim depends on the circumstances of the injury. In most cases, you can file a claim against the responsible party if the following three conditions are met:
- The party held some form of responsibility (e.g., maintaining their property or caution while driving)
- You were injured because they didn’t fulfill their responsibility
- You suffered damages as a result (e.g., medical bills or permanent disability)
However, there are a few exceptions. For example, workers’ compensation laws protect you and your employer from being deemed negligent, so you cannot sue your employer if you’re injured at work. Similarly, a medical malpractice claim requires you to prove that your injury resulted from substandard care rather than a genuine mistake.
If you aren’t sure whether or not you have a case, seek out a law firm with experience handling personal injury cases, like Nessler & Associates. Our attorneys offer a free consultation where they can go over the facts of the case and determine whether you have a claim.
Get Legal Representation from Nessler & Associates
Filing a spinal cord injury claim in Illinois is much easier with the help of Nessler & Associates. We will file your claim, gather the evidence to build a strong case, and recover the compensation you deserve.
By working on contingency, we ensure that you won’t owe us anything unless we win or settle your case. Contact us at (800) 727-8010 or fill out our online form to schedule a no-obligation, free consultation today. Our law firm also represents spinal cord injury victims in Colorado, Florida, and Texas.