An 18 year old girl in New Jersey (NJ) suffered from quadriplegic spinal injuries after she was hit by a negligent teenage driver who was driving under the influence of alcohol. Though the victim was awarded $5 million in compensation, the damages were irreversible.
Researchers have estimated that approximately 12,500 new spinal cord injuries (SCI) occur every year and around 240,000 to 337,000 people are living with SCIs in the United States. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center suggests that the major causes of spinal cord injuries include:
- Motor accidents – 38 percent
- Slip and falls – 30 percent
- Violence (mostly gunshot wounds) – 14 percent
- Sports/recreation related activities – 9 percent
- Medical/Surgical – 5 percent
- Other – 4 percent
Spinal cord injuries not only take a toll on the victim’s quality of life, but can be one of the most devastating experiences for the loved ones, as well. The exorbitant costs involved in the treatment of SCIs can make the situation even worse. People suffering from high cervical spine injuries need to spend about $1 million in the first year for medical costs, and approximately $185,000 in each subsequent year.
However, many patients have legal grounds to file a SCI lawsuit against the negligent or liable party to seek compensation for the damages. Take the case of the 18 year old girl mentioned above. A team of personal injury attorneys in NJ helped her file a case against the teenage driver and the restaurant chain (which served the alcohol without carding him or his group) and get compensation to be able to carry on with the treatment.
The Type of SCI Incurred Affects Your Settlement
If you have suffered SCI and have decided to proceed to court, you must understand that the type of injuries incurred will affect the final settlement. SCIs can be categorized into two types:
- Complete: Results from complete severance of the spinal cord. Victims incurring complete SCI lose all feelings and function below the level of injury. Most of the time, complete SCI results in total paralysis below the level of the injury.
- Incomplete: Victims of incomplete SCI have some feelings and functions below the level of injury. Incomplete SCI can further be divided into three types:
Complete SCI is considered to be the most severe form of injury; and, as a general rule of thumb, the more extensive the injury or level of paralysis, the higher would be the compensation amount. In addition to the damages for physical pain, victims of SCI are also eligible to get compensated for the present and future medical expenses, lost wages, etc. If you believe that you might be entitled for compensation for the SCI, contact an attorney as soon as possible.
In case of SCI, you can file two types of lawsuits – personal injury or wrongful death. To file a personal injury lawsuit, it is required that the person who suffered the injuries files the lawsuit. However, under certain circumstances, the family members are also allowed to file the lawsuit on behalf of the victim. In case a person does die to SCI, the family members will be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit and get compensation.
Do You Need an Attorney for Your SCI Lawsuit?
There are many things to be taken care of after you or a loved one has suffered from SCI. Getting proper medical attention, filing lawsuits against those who may be liable for the injuries caused, and calculating the damages are some of the many things that need to be considered. However, the incident of SCI can take a toll on your emotional state, making it even more difficult to make the right decisions.
An experienced and reputed attorney can provide you the much-required assistance and support to handle the complications. Hiring an attorney can be beneficial since you can prevent making mistakes that might affect the settlements. Some of the common mistakes made by people include:
- Missing the deadline to file a lawsuit (statute of limitations for lawsuits)
- Making a procedural mistake (mistake while filing the lawsuit)
- Failing to provide enough evidence to prove the other party’s negligence
- Miscalculating the damages
- Agreeing to a lower settlement amount
Therefore, in order to make sure that you have a strong case and get the right amount of compensation, it is necessary that you work with a good attorney.
Accidents can happen any time, and many accidents lead to SCI. SCI are devastating, not only for the victim but also for the family members. Thus, it is necessary to know what to do when you or a loved one has suffered from SCI.
Get immediate medical attention after an accident, and then consult a lawyer to know whether you are eligible to be compensated or not. Even though SCI can devastate your life, not all accidents lead to lawsuits. So, by getting immediate legal counsel, you will know whether you need to make an insurance claim or proceed to court.
About the Author: William Camp is a freelance content writer, who has years of experience in providing unique and high-quality content for the law industry. He has been writing for Shebell & Shebell LLC, based in NJ. They have decades of experience in handling personal injury and criminal cases.