El Centro Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers
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El Centro Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys
Gomez Trial Attorneys is an award-winning Southern California personal injury law firm. Our lawyers represent clients who have suffered severe, life-altering injuries because of someone else’s wrongful and dangerous decisions or actions. It is our mission to secure the most money possible to help our clients recover and rebuild from catastrophic injuries.
Unlike most firms in the Imperial Valley region, we have the skill, know-how, and financial resources to tackle even the most complicated cases, and to stand up to even the most powerful insurance companies and defense lawyers.
Over our years of law practice, we have secured tens of millions of dollars of compensation for our injured clients through settlements and jury verdicts. Of course, we cannot promise that every case we handle will turn out favorably; however, we can guarantee that our clients will receive top-notch legal representation that aims to put them in the best possible position to maximize the compensation they ultimately receive.
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries in El Centro
A spinal cord injury generally occurs in connection with trauma to the spinal column. The cord is essentially a bundle of nerves that runs through the middle of the spinal column and carries messages from the brain to the body. The spinal cord can sustain an injury if damage to the spinal column pinches, ruptures, bruises, or puts pressure on the cord. An injury to the spinal cord can interrupt the flow of messages between the brain and body, often leading to a loss of sensation and paralysis in parts of the body below the site of the injury.
A wide variety of preventable incidents and accidents can lead to a spinal cord injury, including:
- Motor vehicle accidents, especially those in which the force of a collision throws vehicle occupants from their vehicles or around the interiors of their vehicles.
- Dune buggy and ATV accidents, such as those that happen sometimes at Glamis Dunes, in which a vehicle rolls over on top of a rider or the rider’s body absorbs multiple impacts that twist and bend the spine at unnatural angles.
- Falls, especially falls from high heights on construction sites or from ladders, or those in which the base of the neck absorbs the primary impact.
- Swimming and diving accidents, most commonly involving swimmers who dive into pools or bodies of water that are too shallow.
- Backyard trampoline accidents in which trampoline users fall from the trampoline to the ground.
- Gunshot wounds that damage or pierce the spinal column and/or spinal cord.
- Explosions that throw victims against hard surfaces or embed shrapnel in their spines.
No matter what kind of incident or accident causes a spinal cord injury for an El Centro resident, worker, or visitor, the team at Gomez Trial Attorneys has the depth of knowledge and experience necessary to understand the nature and scope of the injury and to investigate the circumstances leading up to it.
The Heavy Cost of El Centro Spinal Cord Injuries
Unlike many injuries that afflict people in El Centro and throughout the Imperial Valley, spinal cord injuries may never heal. Nerve cells in the spinal cord do not repair themselves in the same way that other cells in the body do. As a result, the loss of sensation and paralysis victims suffer may well last a lifetime.
A lifetime injury brings with it a lifetime of costs. For spinal cord injury victims and their families, those costs can easily reach into the millions of dollars. According to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, which supports victims of spinal cord injuries and funds related research, the lifetime cost of living with a spinal cord injury ranges, on average, between $1 million and $4 million, depending upon the severity and nature of the trauma.
Numerous factors contribute to this overall cost, including:
- Medical expenses, which include both the costs of treating the spinal cord injury itself and the costs associated with addressing other health complications that result from the effects of the spinal cord injury.
- Home renovation necessary to allow a spinal cord injury victim to live a reasonably independent life. These renovations often include the installation of ramps, bathroom retrofits, and the widening of doorways. Of course, sometimes it simply is not possible to remodel a home, and instead, a spinal cord injury victim will need to find a new place to live.
- Mobility-related expenses, such as the cost of purchasing and maintaining a wheelchair, modifying a vehicle’s controls for hand-operated driving, and/or the purchase of specialized vehicles equipped with lifts to transport the injured individual.
- Other expenses directly tied to living with the disability caused by paralysis, including the cost of home health workers.
Another difficulty that many El Centro spinal cord injury victims face: the unpredictability of many of these costs. Health complications can arise at any time, for example, that suddenly balloon the budget for caring for a spinal cord injury victim. Similarly, equipment can break down and victims may need to move or alter their living situations. At every one of life’s twists and turns, people living with spinal cord injuries encounter new and unexpected costs.
Seeking Compensation for an El Centro Spinal Cord Injury
Gomez Trial Attorneys represents victims of El Centro spinal cord injuries in seeking compensation to help pay for the costs. Thanks to our years of experience and depth of knowledge about spinal cord injuries, we can calculate the full value of a client’s present and future costs. Our clients can feel confident that any legal action we take on their behalf will seek compensation for every dollar of damages that they have or will suffer.
Legal Liability for Spinal Cord Injuries
Seeking compensation for an El Centro spinal cord injury typically starts with figuring out who should owe our clients money for their injuries and losses—in other words, who has a legal liability to our clients for damages.
Under California law, anyone who causes harm to someone else by engaging in unreasonably dangerous conduct, or by making an unreasonably dangerous decision, faces legal liability to that victim for money damages. As described above, spinal cord injuries happen as a result of a wide variety of accidents and incidents, no two of them exactly the same.
At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we approach every representation of an El Centro spinal cord injury victim as an exercise in peeling back the facts of a case to pinpoint the precise decisions and actions that led directly to our client getting hurt.
Depending upon the circumstances, legally liable parties can include:
- Motorists who make bad decisions behind the wheel of a vehicle and cause a crash.
- Property owners who fail to fix, warn about, or prevent access to a hazardous condition on their properties, leading to a fall or other dangerous incident.
- Recreation companies and tour operators who fail to follow safety protocols in taking guests on excursions, putting clients at risk of serious injuries.
- Government agencies and contractors who unnecessarily expose civilians or military personnel to unreasonably dangerous hazards, such as explosions or other violent events, that can inflict life-threatening harm.
- Violent criminals and anyone legally-responsible for their conduct, when criminals commit crimes that inflict serious injuries.
These are just some parties who could have a legal liability to victims of an El Centro spinal cord injury victim. As we said, every case is different, and at Gomez Trial Attorneys, we leave no stone unturned in evaluating the decisions and actions that led to our client suffering harm. In fact, oftentimes, we find that more than one party has a liability to our client, which can benefit our client by offering multiple sources from whom to recover damages.
Compensation for Damages
Our job at Gomez Trial Attorneys is also to evaluate and pursue every possible category of damages available to our clients under California law.
Circumstances vary, of course, but generally speaking, El Centro spinal cord injury victims can often take legal action seeking compensation for past and future:
- Medical expenses, such as those described above, including costs of treatment of both the primary injury and any secondary health complications.
- Non-medical expenses, including costs associated with home remodeling, mobility devices, and hiring services to assist with day-to-day life.
- Lost income when the victim misses work or cannot return to work because of a spinal cord injury.
- Pain and suffering associated with the injury and with the trauma of adapting to a life transformed.
- Diminished quality of life and relationships, which for many El Centro spinal cord injury victims can include the loss of the ability to enjoy recreational activities and the loss of aspects of an intimate relationship.
In addition to the damages above, sometimes clients of Gomez Trial Attorneys can also ask a court to award punitive damages in their cases. These damages seek to punish and deter extreme or outrageous conduct on behalf of the defendant that led to a spinal cord injury. Not all incidents and accidents entitle an El Centro spinal cord injury victim to seek punitive damages, but our team pursues them aggressively when possible.
How We Help
Perhaps more than most others, El Centro spinal cord injury victims need smart, skilled, aggressive legal representation on their side to help ensure that they never have to worry about paying for the treatments, services, equipment, and home modifications they need to live a normal life following a spinal cord injury. Gomez Trial Attorneys can provide just that kind of legal advocacy.
We tailor the legal services we provide to meet the needs and priorities of our clients. No two cases are alike.
Still, in representing El Centro spinal cord injury victims, our services often include:
- Investigating the accident or incident that led to the injury to pinpoint the party or parties who should face legal and financial accountability to our client.
- Evaluating the impact an injury has had on our client’s life, to ensure that any legal action we take seeks the maximum compensation available under California law.
- Planning an effective, efficient legal strategy to meet our client’s particular needs and priorities.
- Executing on that plan, which often includes filing a lawsuit in California court on our client’s behalf.
- Communicating with our client regularly about the case, in language our client understands—no legalese!
- Negotiating with defense lawyers and insurance companies to achieve a full and fair settlement of our client’s claim, if possible.
- Taking our client’s case to trial when negotiations alone do not achieve a financial settlement that reflects the true value of our client’s case.
El Centro Spinal Cord Injury FAQ
A preventable spinal cord injury caused by someone else’s negligence can happen in an instant, changing your future forever. Your injury leaves you not just with significant, permanent loss of feeling and sensation in your body, but also leaves you with enormous future expenses and with the burden of adapting to a radically-altered life.
Spinal cord injury victims in El Centro often have numerous questions about their injury, prognosis, and future—worrying about not only what lies ahead for them, but for their family as well. Below, we answer some frequently asked questions about El Centro spinal cord injuries and the legal rights of victims who suffer them. For answers to specific questions about a spinal cord injury that has upended your life, contact an experienced El Centro spinal cord injury lawyer today.
What exactly is a spinal cord injury?
A spinal cord injury typically results from a traumatic blow to the spine that fractures or dislocates the vertebrae, which in turn inflicts damage to the spinal cord. The injury typically disrupts the flow of signals from the brain to the body, resulting in paralysis and loss of sensation to the parts of the body connected to the cord below the site of the damage.
Doctors refer to the severity of a spinal cord injury in terms of its “completeness”.
- Complete injury: If all feeling and motor function is lost below the injury site, the spinal cord injury is referred to as complete.
- Incomplete injury: If there are some sensory or motor functions below the injury area, the spinal cord injury is considered incomplete.
In addition, when spinal cord injuries result in paralysis, they are referred to as:
- Paraplegia: This paralysis affects part or all of the pelvic organs, trunk, and legs.
- Tetraplegia: Also referred to as quadriplegia, this paralysis affects the hands, trunk, pelvic organs, legs, and arms.
Experienced El Centro spinal cord injury lawyers work to obtain compensation for victims of all classifications of spinal cord injuries.
Are there different types of spinal cord injuries?
There are four parts to the spine: the top (cervical), middle (thoracic), lower-middle (lumbar), and the bottom (sacral) portions.
The portion of the spine affected by an injury dictates where in the body the victim loses sensation and function.
- Sacral injuries: The sacral spine (or sacrum) is located above the tailbone and below the lumbar spines. Five bones, known as S-1 to S-5, are fused to make up the sacrum. Sacral injuries to the spinal cord typically result in a loss of bladder function, sexual dysfunction, and bowel issues. These injuries can also result in paralysis of the legs and the hips.
- Lumbar injuries: The lumbar spine comprises the lowest major portion of the spinal cord and comprises five vertebrae (L1-L5). This lumbar spine carries the most significant weight of any of the spine sections and, as a result, features larger vertebrae than the other areas of the spine. Injuries to the lumbar portion of the spinal cord often result in paraplegia, sexual dysfunction, bladder, and bowel numbness.
- Thoracic injuries: The thoracic spine is located in the upper and middle part of the back. There are twelve vertebrae situated in this part of the spine, numbered T-1 to T-12. Thoracic injuries are often less common because the rib cage protects this portion of the spine. However, when these injuries occur, they can result in leg paralysis, sexual dysfunction, and numbness in the bladder and bowel.
- Cervical injuries: The top portion of the spinal cord consists of seven cervical vertebrae (C1 to C7). As these cervical vertebrae are in the neck and closer to the brain, cervical injuries are the most severe spinal cord injury type. These injuries can result in quadriplegia, which is paralysis in both legs and arms. However, many times, any area below the level of injury can be affected, and symptoms can include breathing problems, numbness, bladder and bowel issues, and sexual dysfunction.
What are some common symptoms associated with an El Centro spinal cord injury?
El Centro residents, workers, and visitors who suffer a spinal cord injury often experience the following symptoms:
- Movement loss
- The loss of bladder control
- The loss of bowel control
- The loss of sensation including an ability to feel touch, cold, and heat
- Exaggerated spasms
- Exaggerated reflexes
- Intense pain (stinging sensation) resulting from damage to the nerve fibers in the spinal cord
- Changes in sexual sensitivity, fertility, and sexual function
- Trouble coughing, clearing secretions from lungs, and breathing
Additionally, after some accidents, there may also be an onset of emergency signs, including:
- Immense pain in the head, back, or neck
- Loss of sensation in fingers, feet, toes, or hands
- Loss of bowel or even bladder control
- Paralysis in parts of the body
- Trouble or a hard time breathing
- An oddly twisted back or neck
If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms following an accident, seek emergency medical help immediately—then call us if someone else caused the accident that resulted in your injury. We can help you recover the compensation you need to pay for your medical treatments and other costs associated with your injury.
Who can be held accountable for a spinal cord injury in El Centro?
Under California law, anyone whose unreasonable decisions or actions contributed to the cause of a spinal cord injury may have a legal liability to the victim for damages. Individuals, businesses, organizations, and even government agencies, can all face this type of liability.
It would be impossible to list all of the potential parties who could owe damages to a spinal cord injury victim here.
To give you an idea of the range of possible defendants in a lawsuit for damages, however, below we list some of the most common causes of spinal cord injuries in El Centro and the parties a victim can often hold accountable:
- Motor vehicle accidents: Parties with potential liability include motorists, commercial businesses that operate vehicles on the road, public transportation authorities such as the Riverside Transit Agency, and manufacturers of automotive parts;
- Sports-related accidents: Referees, coaches, leagues, schools, safety equipment manufacturers, and anyone else responsible for ensuring athlete safety;
- Workplace accidents: Property owners, work equipment manufacturers, and vehicle drivers;
- Medical negligence: Doctors, nurses, and hospitals; and
- Falls: Property owners, manufacturers of building and flooring materials, and individuals whose actions deliberately or accidentally cause a fall.
An experienced El Centro spinal cord injury attorney investigates the details of the incident that led to the client’s injury to identify all parties who may face legal liability to the victim under California law.
How does my lawyer prove someone was liable for my spinal cord injury?
To collect compensation for your spinal cord injuries, your lawyer needs to build a case that proves that the defendant’s negligent actions resulted in your spinal cord injury.
To demonstrate negligence, your lawyer must show that:
- The party who hurt you owed you a duty of care not to act in a way that put you at risk of harm;
- That party breached this duty of care through unreasonable decisions or actions that endangered you;
- As a result of this breach, you suffered a spinal cord injury; and
- You suffered losses and damages because of this accident.
To build a case that proves each of these facts, your lawyer collects evidence to prove how your injury happened, whose decisions or actions led to it, and what types of harm you suffered as a result.
What kinds of damages can I recover for a spinal cord injury in El Centro?
Every El Centro spinal cord injury case has unique facts and circumstances. For that reason, the types of damages a victim might recover by taking legal action can vary from one case to the next. However, in general, victims of spinal cord injury in El Centro can take legal action seeking compensation for:
Economic damages. These damages compensate you for any monetary losses you suffered as a result of your spinal cord injury, including:
- Current and future medical expenses related to treating and living with a spinal cord injury and the health complications that accompany it, including the costs of hospitalization, therapy, doctor visits, medication, and medical equipment.
- Current and future lost wages due to you missing work after suffering your spinal cord injury, and to your inability to return to your former job because of disabilities inflicted by your spinal cord injury;
- Expenses associated with adapting to and living with a spinal cord injury, such as the cost of modifying your home to make it accessible or hiring help with daily activities that you can no longer manage on your own.
Non-economic damages. These damages compensate you for the harm you have suffered, but are not easy to put into dollars and cents:
- Physical pain and mental suffering caused by your spinal cord injury;
- Loss of life enjoyment due to living with a spinal cord injury; and
- Damage to personal and intimate relationships inflicted by your spinal cord injury.
Exemplary (or punitive) damages. Courts award these damages when the actions of the party at-fault for a spinal cord injury are particularly outrageous or malicious, to punish and deter that conduct.
How much money can I recover for my El Centro spinal cord injury?
We can’t say exactly, because every spinal cord injury case differs.
Generally speaking, the amount you may have the ability to recover as damages depends on three broad factors:
- The severity of your spinal cord injury and its impact on your life. The harm inflicted by spinal cord injuries can differ. The amount of a victim’s damages tends to rise the more severe the paralysis and the longer and greater the disruption of the victim’s life. The lifetime cost of a complete spinal cord injury can run into the millions of dollars.
- The strength of your case. The more plentiful the evidence and the more clear-cut the liability of the party at-fault, the better the chances of a favorable financial outcome for the victim of an El Centro spinal cord injury.
- The financial resources of the negligent party. The potential value of a case depends, at least in part on how much money the defendant has available to pay as damages. Defendants typically rely on their own liability insurance coverage to pay compensation in spinal cord injury cases, although sometimes their own personal or business assets may also be available to compensate the injured victim.
Experienced El Centro spinal cord injury lawyers dig deep into cases to secure the highest-quality evidence, and to identify all parties who have a legal liability to their clients, to give their clients the best possible opportunity to recover maximum compensation.
How long does it take to recover compensation for an El Centro spinal cord injury?
The timeline for a spinal cord injury claim in El Centro can vary from months to years, depending on the circumstances.
Spinal cord injury and their clients do not exercise much control over that timeline, which can depend on:
- The number of parties in a case;
- The difficulty of obtaining evidence;
- The amount of disagreement over who has liability and how much money they owe in damages; and
- The certainty of the victim’s diagnosis.
El Centro spinal cord injury victims can control one aspect of that timeline, however, and that is when they contact an experienced attorney. The sooner they take that important step, the sooner the rest of the process of securing compensation for them can get started.
How much does a spinal cord injury lawyer in El Centro cost?
Nothing, unless the lawyer gets you results.
Experienced El Centro spinal cord injury lawyers like those at Gomez Trial Attorneys offer free case evaluations to potential clients, so that cost does not deter victims and their families from asking about their legal rights.
Lawyers for spinal cord injury victims also generally always represent their clients on a contingent fee basis, which is when the lawyer’s only payment consists of a percentage of the money the lawyer succeeds in securing on the client’s behalf. The client pays no money to the lawyer upfront. If you do not recover anything, then you will not owe any fees to the lawyer.
In other words, you can afford the services of our experienced El Centro spinal cord injury lawyers. So, do not wait. If you have been injured in an accident in El Centro and suffered a spinal cord injury, contact an El Centro spinal cord injury lawyer today for a free case evaluation.
Gomez Trial Attorneys: Your El Centro Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers
If a spinal cord injury suffered in or around El Centro, California, has upended your life, then you deserve to have a top-notch lawyer fighting to get you the money you need to meet the new and unexpected challenges ahead. Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys online or at (619) 237-3490 for a free case evaluation to learn about your potential legal rights to substantial compensation.
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Gomez Trial Attorneys
2299 West Adams Avenue, Suite 102
El Centro, CA 92243
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“John helped me find doctors, he referred me to his neurologist, his physical therapist, I mean, anything I needed he was right there, every step of the way. I couldn’t have asked for a better result from all of this, I would absolutely recommend Gomez Trial Attorneys.”
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