Being diagnosed with a spinal cord injury following an accident may change an injured individual’s life forever, especially if he or she faces permanent disability. Many spine injuries heal quickly, but more severe injuries can result in partial or full paralysis. Accident survivors who suffer spinal cord damage often face enormous medical expenses and typically cannot work during their recovery.
If you or a loved one has suffered a spine injury because of another party’s negligence or reckless behavior, you should not have to shoulder the financial burden alone. A San Jose spine injury lawyer can help you file a personal injury claim that seeks compensation for your losses. No amount of money can undo the physical pain and devastation of your injury, but you may be able to recover from the financial challenges caused by your accident.
If you are seeking legal assistance following a spine injury, Golden State Lawyers’s experienced legal team can provide the legal representation that you need. We understand that recovery is a long and difficult process; we prioritize handling the details of your case while you focus on healing and rehabilitation. Call us at (408) 279-4222 for a free consultation and to discuss your case.
Golden State Lawyers Results in Spine Injury Cases
The spinal cord injury attorneys at Golden State Lawyers have significant experience representing a variety of personal injury survivors, including those who have suffered spinal injuries. Our legal team’s commitment to personalized service and building strong cases for our clients has resulted in the recovery of millions of dollars in compensation. Some of our recent case results include securing compensation amounts of $21.3 million, $45 million, and $80 million for clients who suffered spinal injuries from a poorly maintained road, a truck accident, and a defective booster seat, respectively. While we cannot guarantee a favorable result in your case, we can promise to diligently pursue the best outcome given your specific circumstances.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Although some spinal cord injuries result from rare circumstances or unknown conditions, studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have shown that four main events cause over 90 percent of spinal cord injuries. These events are:
- Traffic accidents (40.4 percent). According to the NIH, car accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries in those under the age of 65. Accidents that occur at high speeds can cause catastrophic injuries.
- Falls (27.9 percent). The NIH reports that unintentional falls are the leading cause of spinal injuries among elders. A simple slip and fall accident might result in a spinal cord injury, as well as falling down stairs or falling from a building.
- Violence, including gunshot wounds (15 percent).
- Sports accidents (8 percent). Playing sports remains a favorite past time for individuals of all ages. Yet, those who play certain sports risk injury. Brain and spine injuries are especially common in full-contact sports.
Types of Spinal Injuries
The spinal cord is not one unit but rather a collection of nerves protected by your spine. These nerves are a key component of the central nervous system, carrying signals between your brain and the rest of your body. Explained simply, a spinal cord injury is a disruption of those signals. Disruptions are a result of trauma to the back caused by the aforementioned accidents. It’s a common myth that a spine injury occurs when the spinal cord has been cut or severed, which is actually quite rare. In most cases, pieces of bone from the vertebrae or discs in the spine intrude into the spinal cord causing medical complications or long-term damage. Below is a list of types of spinal cord injuries that might lead to a personal injury lawsuit:
- Herniated, ruptured, or collapsed discs
- Fractured or cracked vertebrae, sometimes referred to as compression fractures
- Spinal nerve damage
- Back spasms, strains, or sprains
- Severed spinal cord, resulting in partial or complete paralysis
Effects of Spinal Cord Damage
A spinal cord injury diagnosis includes different effects depending on the part of the spine that sustains damage. Medical professionals organize the spinal cord into different sections that correlate with the vertebrae of the backbone. Each section is responsible for different bodily functions based on where the nerves lead. Injuries that occur higher along the spinal column result in more loss of function than those that occur lower on the column. We discuss the potential long-term complications associated with each region below.
The cervical region of the spine refers to the seven vertebrae that make up the neck. This area of the spinal cord controls signals to the upper extremities and the diaphragm. A spinal cord injury in the cervical region can result in quadriplegia, which is paralysis from the neck down. Other potential temporary or permanent complications depend on the exact location of the injury and include:
- An inability to breathe without a ventilator
- Loss of movement and sensation in all four limbs
- Loss of movement and sensation from the waist down, and reduced function in the hands and wrists
The thoracic region of the spine includes the nerves in the upper back. This area controls signals to the torso and parts of the arms. Individuals who suffer a spinal injury in their thoracic region might have limited trunk movement because they don’t have control of their abdominal muscles.
Lumbar and sacral regions
Spinal cord injuries in the mid and lower back are less common in auto collisions, but they still might result in permanent damage. These areas control signals to the hips, legs, groin, and toes. Injuries in the mid-back can cause paraplegia, but injuries near the bottom of the lumbar region and in the sacral region don’t result in upper extremity paralysis.
Seeking Compensation After a Spinal Cord Injury
Recovering from a serious spinal injury is no easy feat. Your San Jose personal injury lawyer will help you identify the expenses and losses that you’ve incurred as a result of your injury, with the goal of securing compensation for the full cost of your injuries, including expected future costs. If you receive a settlement offer or verdict in your favor, you could receive compensation for the following:
- Medical expenses, including ambulance rides, emergency department visits, hospital stays, surgeries, X-rays and other scans, treatment and medications.
- Future medical costs when patients need extended recovery or a spinal injury causes permanent damage that requires long-term healthcare.
- Rehabilitative service costs for physical therapy and assistive devices, such as wheelchairs, walkers, canes, or specialized technology.
- Cost of home modifications needed to make your home more accessible, such as wheelchair The teamps and handrails.
- Lost wages for missing work in the past and future due to hospitalization and recovery.
- Lost earning capacity, when a spinal cord injury prevents a person from returning to certain kinds of work because of a physical limitation, or when the person is a child and won’t be able to ever enter the workforce.
- Non-economic damages, including pain and suffering, decreased quality of life, loss of consortium with a spouse, and others that might apply to your situation.
Comparative Negligence in California Spine Injury Cases
When appropriate, a California applies a comparative negligence rule to personal injury cases. Comparative negligence, sometimes referred to as comparative fault, is the legel theory that a claimant’s recovery should be reduced if he or she contributed to the cause of injury. If a court rules in favor of a plaintiff but finds there was comparative fault, it will assign a percentage of fault to the injured party and reduce the damages award by the percentage of fault assigned to the plaintiff. For example, if a plaintiff sues for $50,000, and the court determines that the plaintiff was 10 percent responsible for his or her own injuries, the plaintiff can only collect 90 percent of the original award, or $45,000.
Individuals, businesses, and insurance companies generally want to avoid liability for damages when they are named in a lawsuit. Comparative negligence offers one avenue for liable parties to shift blame to a plaintiff, so they don’t have to pay as much or any damages. An experienced personal injury lawyer understands comparative negligence and will fight against these defense tactics. Spinal cord injury cases often result in catastrophic injuries that require a qualified spinal injury attorney to guide people through the legal process. Retaining an attorney will maximize your likelihood of recovering compensation for the full cost of your injuries.
San Jose Spinal Cord Injury Frequently Asked Questions FAQs
Spinal cord injuries can cause incredible pain and disability, often resulting in time off work, lost wages, and expensive medical bills. If you suffered a spinal cord injury and believe that another party was at fault, you probably have a lot of questions about what to do next. Here are answers to some of the questions we get at our office when helping our clients with spine injuries.
Should I speak to the insurance adjuster or a spinal cord injury attorney first?
Insurance adjusters work for the insurance company, and if they work for the carrier of the negligent party, they are not there to help you. Before you consider speaking with an insurance adjuster, it is always best to first contact a San Jose spinal cord injury lawyer. The insurance adjuster will work to minimize the amount of money that the insurance company pays for the accident, often by looking for information that will reduce or negate your claim.
Although it might seem harmless to share your story with an insurance adjuster, it is always best to defer all communication with the insurance company to your attorney. That is the best way to be confident that you are not helping the insurance company to minimize your compensation. To protect your rights to full compensation, it is beneficial that you first speak with an experienced spinal cord injury attorney.
Who will pay my medical bills if I’m in an accident that results in a spinal cord injury?
When you are dealing with the medical aftermath of a spinal cord injury that was caused by the careless actions of another party, the financial aspect can feel confusing and overwhelming. If you are injured in a car accident that is not your fault, the other driver (usually through his insurance company) is responsible for your medical bills. However, the other driver’s insurance will not reimburse you after every doctor visit, nor will the insurance directly pay each doctor.
Instead, you will need to present the full value of your claim, to include past and estimates as to future medical expenses for the insurance company to consider at one time. Depending on your injuries, it could take several months or even years before you are in a position to determine the total value of your case. In the meantime, most doctors expect to be paid right away by your health insurer or out of your pocket, otherwise they will send you to collections. Hiring a qualified attorney can help ensure that the treatment providers understand the situation and will wait for payment.
What can I do if the other person involved in the accident was not honest with the insurance company?
Unfortunately, you can’t prevent the liable party whose actions resulted in your spinal cord injury from lying to the insurance company. Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do to protect yourself if you believe that the other party was not honest when describing the details of the accident to their insurance company.
This is one of the most important reasons that you need to work with an experienced personal injury attorney. The insurance agencies may consider other evidence, in addition to other witness statements and expert reports. Your attorney will work to provide information that can help to clarify the details of the accident.
This information can be presented through:
- Medical records and documentation
- The official police report that was filed after the accident
- Speaking with those who witnessed the accident
- Reconstructing the scene of the accident
- Vehicle damage report
- Any recordings or pictures of the accident
Remember to refer all communications to your attorney.
Should I remove the social media posts related to my accident?
Many share their life stories on social media, as it is a way to connect with friends and family and keep them updated on what is going on in our lives. Because of this, it is natural to consider posting details about your accident on social media.
That said, refrain from talking about your spinal cord injury online and it is advisable to avoid posting anything about your case on social media. You should also be hesitant to post pictures or videos that might suggest you were not seriously injured. If you are going through the claims process, the insurance companies and potentially the attorney of the liable party often look to social media to see if they can find evidence of your actions after a spinal cord injury accident. A post that might seem harmless to you could hurt that value of your claim.
Don’t share your stories or post about your accident on social media. If you have already posted information about your accident online, talk to your lawyer about whether you should remove it.
If I start to feel better, should I continue to go to my follow-up doctor appointments? What if I don’t think the doctor can help?
The answer here is Yes. Follow your doctor’s advice after a spinal cord injury. Always attend all scheduled appointments, even if you believe that your injury is starting to heal. With many injuries, particularly spinal cord injuries, you may experience less painful days and periods than others. What might seem like a small injury one day can feel very different the next day, and a spinal cord injury can take a long time to fully heal—if it’s going to heal at all.
Follow your doctor’s treatment plan carefully, or the insurance companies will suggest that your injuries are not serious because you ceased medical treatment. This can hurt your chances of obtaining fair compensation in a spinal cord injury case.
Your spinal cord injury lawyer will work to maximize the value of your case, so go to every recommended doctor’s appointment even if you seem to be feeling better, or if you don’t feel the treatments are helping you.
Spinal cord injuries can lead to serious and long-lasting medical issues. If you were the victim of a spinal cord injury, contact our law office today to learn more about how our experienced San Jose spinal cord accident attorneys can help you.
Get the Legal Help You Need From a San Jose Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer
Spinal cord injuries not only cause patients massive amounts of physical pain, but these complex cases can also emotionally and financially devastate patients and their families. At Golden State Lawyers, we understand the challenges that you are facing, and we want to help you through this difficult time. Our legal team has more than four decades of combined experience working on personal injury claims involving severe and catastrophic injuries. We take our cases on contingency fee basis, which means that you don’t pay attorney fees up front. Instead, we are only paid a percentage of fees from a settlement or verdict in your favor.
If you or a loved one needs legal representation after a spinal injury, let one of our compassionate and knowledgeable personal injury attorneys worry about the intricacies of your case, investigate your accident, and handle communications with insurance companies, all while pursuing the best outcome given your circumstances. Call Golden State Lawyers’s San Jose office today at (408) 279-4222, or contact us online, to schedule your free consultation and learn about your legal options.