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Often, spinal cord injury occurs due to a sudden, traumatic blow to the spine. Injuries occur in auto accidents, construction site accidents, assaults, and slip and falls, and serious injuries may change the course of victims’ lives. If you suffered spinal cord injuries in an accident due to another party’s negligence, an experienced Riverside spinal cord injury attorney can help you understand your rights and help lend support and guidance as you file a spinal cord injury claim.
At Gomez Trial Attorneys, for example, we successfully achieved a $1.5 million settlement for a past spinal cord injury victim, and we have considerable experience in managing spinal cord injury claims throughout California. Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys today to see if we can put our experience to work for you.
For most victims of spinal cord injuries, decreased mobility represents one of the biggest challenges. Typically, spinal cord injury victims suffer decreased movement and sensation below the site of injury. In the case of complete spinal cord injury, in which the spinal cord severs completely, victims may suffer full paralysis below the site of the injury.
Incomplete spinal cord injury, in which the spinal cord suffers damage but does not sever completely, can also cause decreased mobility, but depending on the severity of the injury, the victim may retain some mobility and function. However, many victims discover that their spinal cord injuries pose other, unexpected limitations, as well.
As a result of a spinal cord injury, many victims suffer decreased bowel and bladder control. Due to the damage to the spinal cord, which usually transmits nerve impulses from the bowels and bladder to the brain, the victim may no longer recognize these important signals. The bowels and bladder may continue to store feces and urine, but the victim might hold both for longer than necessary or might suffer from incontinence. This can lead to an increased risk of urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and kidney infections.
While the lack of skin sensation on its own can prove frustrating enough for victims of spinal cord injuries, the lack of sensation also brings with it another hazard: victims may not feel a subsequent injury to the same area. Burns, cold damage, and deep contusions can result if the victim does not notice friction or pressure around the site of the injury in the same way that he or she would before the initial injury.
Due to the lack of movement, as well as the damage to the body that occurs in a spinal cord injury, many victims experience poor circulation. This may lead to feeling lightheaded when rising or leave the victim with swelling in the extremities, especially without regular movement and therapy.
Both men and women may notice sexual and reproductive challenges as a result of spinal cord injuries. Men may notice changes in erection and ejaculation, including difficulty achieving either, while women may notice increased vaginal dryness or decreased sensation during sexual contact.
Many victims suffer decreased lung function as a result of spinal cord injuries, especially if those injuries impact the muscles in the chest. Shallow breathing can, in turn, substantially increase the risk of pneumonia and other types of infection.
Many victims notice a distinct decrease in their calorie output as a result of spinal cord injuries. Failing to properly control calorie intake can result in a substantially increased risk of obesity, which can leave a victim struggling with secondary health complications, including diabetes, heart disease, and blood pressure issues.
While some victims, especially those with complete spinal cord injuries, may suffer from a lack of sensation below the site of the injury, others struggle with ongoing pain, often due to muscle spasms or tension. Pain occurs more often in victims with incomplete spinal cord injuries.
Some spinal cord injury victims find that some of their symptoms resolve with time, especially for individuals who suffered incomplete spinal cord injuries. Victims with complete spinal cord injuries, on the other hand, may not see much improvement in their symptoms over time.
For victims of spinal cord injuries, compensation quickly increases in importance. Most spinal cord injury victims require extensive physical and occupational therapy before they can return to work after an accident. Many find that they need to adapt their jobs or their plans for the future as a result of their injuries. Not only that, but medical bills can also grow exponentially following a spinal cord injury.
How much compensation should you seek after a spinal cord injury? While an attorney cannot guarantee that you will receive any specific amount of compensation (or any at all), several common factors often influence the amount of compensation that a victim receives after a spinal cord injury.
The compensation you receive for a spinal cord injury after an accident in Riverside may depend heavily on who caused your accident. If you suffered a spinal cord injury in an auto accident, for example, the average driver’s liability insurance may provide just $15,000 in coverage for your expenses. If multiple parties suffered injuries in that accident, the victims may have to split $30,000 in coverage.
Many entities carry substantially more valuable insurance policies that can provide additional compensation in the event of a spinal cord injury. Big trucks, for example, must have much more substantial insurance coverage than private passenger vehicles. Premises liability insurance may also provide a higher level of compensation.
Following your accident, you should consult an attorney as soon as possible about your legal right to compensation and the insurance policy that covers the liable party to get a better idea of how much compensation you should seek, including what the average insurance policy offers.
The medical bills for a spinal cord injury will quickly mount and may cause unnecessary stress, especially if your family has lost its primary source of income. Make sure to track all of your medical expenses, so that you can include all of your medical bills as part of your spinal cord injury claim.
Your expenses may include:
Time off work usually proves inevitable for spinal cord injury victims. Not only do you have serious injuries that may require a long recovery, but also you may need time to adjust to your new limitations. During your recovery, you might lack the ability to work at all. Your employer might prefer that you wait until you have a better idea of how much you will recover before making any modifications that could allow you to return to the workplace.
In some cases, your employer might not have the capacity to make modifications that will allow you to return to work: for example, most spinal cord injury victims cannot complete the responsibilities necessary for a job that involves manual labor, regardless of modifications. Your lost wages may add up at a time when you desperately need money coming in to help cover your medical expenses. By including these expenses as part of your spinal cord injury claim, you can receive much-needed compensation that will help you keep up with your bills.
In addition to the other elements of your claim, talk with an experienced spinal cord injury attorney to get a better idea of how to include pain and suffering, including mental and emotional anguish, in your damages claim.
If you suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident, you need to prepare yourself to handle expensive medical bills, many of which will remain with you for the rest of your life. As the person receiving that care, ultimately, you will bear liability for paying those bills. However, in many cases, you may have some recourse for gaining compensation for those bills. Your health insurance can help pay for many of your medical expenses. Many victims also find that a spinal cord injury claim will offer substantial compensation that will make it easier to handle those expenses.
A Riverside spinal cord injury attorney can help identify the party that caused your injuries. Sometimes, multiple parties may share liability for an accident. Identifying all of the parties that share liability may increase the compensation that you ultimately receive, since you can file a spinal cord injury claim against each party.
The parties that share liability:
In an auto accident, for example, the driver of the vehicle may bear primary liability for causing an accident that resulted in a spinal cord injury. However, an employer who continued to employ a driver with a history of tickets or distracted driving might share liability for your injuries.
Spinal cord injuries often devastate patients and their families. The frustration that accompanies a physical loss of function, which is often permanent, is compounded when the injury resulted from negligence. Additionally, spinal cord injuries are among the most expensive injuries a person can suffer. Compensation cannot undo the damage, but it can help pay for the ongoing care often required after a spinal cord injury.
If you have suffered a spinal cord injury, or someone you love has suffered one, you have the legal right to seek damages in civil court. Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys’ experienced Riverside spinal cord injury lawyers as soon as possible to discuss the event that led to your spinal cord injury, the impact the injury has had on your life, and the best path forward to recover compensation.
Until you have a chance to discuss your case with us, the answers to the following frequently asked questions about spinal cord injuries, hiring an attorney, and the legal process of seeking damages can provide some preliminary information.
Many scenarios lead to spinal cord injuries, but the majority of spinal cord injury victims acquired their injury in a traffic accident. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 40 percent of all spinal cord injuries occur in traffic collisions. Traffic accidents are the number one cause of spinal cord injuries for those under age 65. The NIH also reports that more than 90 percent of spinal cord injuries occur from the following four types of events: traffic accidents, unintentional falls, violence, and sports.
If your injury happened due to one of the common causes, you might name one or more of the following parties as defendants in your Riverside spinal cord injury lawsuit:
California has a two-year statute of limitations for victims of negligence to bring a lawsuit against the person or business allegedly at fault for their injuries. This means you must take legal action within two years of the date of your spinal cord injury. In most cases, it’s best to bring a lawsuit as soon as possible, but spinal cord injuries pose special challenges. To resolve a Riverside spinal cord injury claim, your doctor and lawyer need to have an accurate and realistic view of your long-term prognosis.
Spinal cord injury patients sometimes need several months to reach their maximum medical improvement, so your lawyer will likely wait before filing a lawsuit on your behalf. You should still contact an attorney as soon as possible, so they can prepare your case and take action as soon as it makes sense. If you wait, you risk going beyond the two-year statute of limitations and missing the chance to recoup your losses. Courts very rarely hear a case when it goes beyond the statute of limitations.
Yes, you can still bring a lawsuit for your spinal cord injury even if you were partially at fault for the event that led to your injury. Contributing to fault does not immediately disqualify you from seeking compensation for damages. However, fault isn’t always clear without a thorough investigation of the accident that led to your injuries. Never admit fault to anyone; it’s best to discuss your case with an attorney for guidance on the best course of legal action for your circumstances.
In most cases, you don’t need to sue your employer for a workplace injury. Most employers must purchase workers’ compensation insurance to protect them from lawsuits related to occupational injuries and illnesses. Workers’ compensation insurance provides benefits to injured employees without regard to fault.
If you want compensation, you must file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer’s insurance provider. If they approve your claim, you will receive a limited amount of coverage for medical expenses and approximately two-thirds of your weekly wage. That’s not so easy—you should call us to file your claim, and if you get a denial, hire us to handle your appeal
Unfortunately, workers’ compensation can leave a significant gap in household income for some spinal cord injury victims. You typically cannot sue your employer unless they retaliate or do not carry the mandatory insurance. However, an experienced spinal cord injury attorney can identify potential third parties who may be liable for your damages. For example, if you were injured on a construction site, got in a traffic crash in a company vehicle, or defective equipment caused your spinal cord damage, you may sue the property owner, another driver, or a heavy equipment manufacturer.
Severe spinal cord injuries are often catastrophic, meaning they cause permanent damage that prevents victims from returning to work or working in the future. Those who have a permanent disability often qualify for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). These are monthly benefits that provide payments for a percentage of the income you made before your spinal cord injury. SSDI and SSI are helpful, but they still leave spinal cord injury victims and their families with a gap in household income.
Although you might be eligible for SSDI or SSI, you should still consult with an attorney. A lawyer can help you identify the person or business that may be responsible for your injury and file a lawsuit on your behalf. Compensation from a settlement or jury award can make up for an income gap if you prevail in your claim.
You are responsible for paying for all the medical treatment costs related to your spinal cord injury. Insurance claim payouts, insurance settlements, and jury awards reimburse you for those costs. Your health insurance coverage will offset some initial costs. However, once you meet your policy limit, you will need to pay the rest. Spinal cord injuries are costly, so once your expenses become a financial burden, communicate with your medical providers and let them know you are waiting for a resolution to your spinal cord injury claim.
You may need to wait a while to settle or litigate your case. If you ignore your medical bills during that time, your providers will send your account to collections and hurt your credit. However, medical providers understand insurance claims and lawsuits, so many will work out a payment plan or put a patient’s account on hold until the claim resolves. Keep copies of all your medical bills—paid and unpaid—so your attorney can ensure your bills get paid if you receive compensation.
If you prevail in your claim and reach a settlement or the court rules in your favor, you could receive compensation for a wide range of damages related to your spinal cord injury.
Damages commonly awarded in personal injury claims include compensation for:
We cannot predict the outcome of your spinal cord injury claim. Each case is different. If you have a valid claim, the circumstances of your injury could justify a settlement of hundreds, thousands, or millions of dollars. Spinal cord injuries are among the most expensive injuries a person can suffer, so compensation in these cases is typically higher than for other types of injuries.
The compensation you receive may be less than the full value of your case if you reach a settlement agreement, but punitive damages may increase that amount. Your lawyer will evaluate your claim and consult with necessary experts to place an estimated value on your economic and non-economic losses, giving you a ballpark range of the compensation you may recover through a settlement or jury award.
Resolving a spinal cord injury claim typically takes longer than other types of injuries because you must recover until your doctor is confident about your long-term prognosis. Additionally, if the other side disputes liability, this can drag your claim out and sometimes lead to failed settlement negotiations. It’s doubtful you will settle in less than a year. You may have to wait an extensive amount of time before negotiations begin and much longer to settle or litigate.
Our Riverside spinal cord injury lawyers always take new clients on a contingency fee basis. Contingency fee agreements are different from paying a retainer to hire a criminal defense attorney, real estate attorney, or tax attorney.
You do not have to pay an up-front retainer when you have a contingency agreement. Paying attorney fees is contingent on receiving compensation for your injuries. If your attorney negotiates a settlement or the court rules in your favor, the firm deducts their attorney’s fees and costs from that compensation.
Our Riverside spinal cord injury law firm and our lawyers understand the economic struggles that often accompany a serious injury and want to help clients seek justice and get the compensation they deserve for their injuries.
In the aftermath of a spinal cord injury, your health and well-being need to be your top priority. Your focus needs to be on recovery and rehabilitation to the highest level possible. Stressing out about the financial impact of your injury does not help.
Instead, you can let an experienced lawyer handle the particulars of your claim and advocate for you to get the compensation you deserve, giving you peace of mind while you heal and cope with your injury. Your attorney will investigate the event that led to your spinal cord injury, take statements from any witnesses, consult with experts to value your claim, and gather any other relevant documents and evidence to build a strong case against those who harmed you.
Our attorneys also handle communication with insurance companies, so you do not have to worry about accidentally saying something that might devalue your claim or give them a reason to deny your claim. Finally, our Riverside spinal cord injury lawyers are trained negotiators who know how to deal with insurance carriers. While we cannot guarantee a recovery, your attorney will be more likely to secure a better financial outcome for you than you could on your own. When settlement negotiations fail, your lawyer will fight for you in the courtroom.
To file a spinal cord injury claim, start by talking with an experienced personal injury attorney who has dealt with spinal cord injury victims in the past. If you suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident due to another party’s negligence, our experienced Riverside personal injury attorneys can help you seek compensation for the full cost of your injuries. Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys at (619) 237-3490 for your free consultation.
Gomez Trial Attorneys
11840 Pierce Street STE 200
Riverside, CA 92505
No Fees Unless We Recover Money On Your Behalf