A spinal cord injury (SCI) can have disastrous consequences for the victim of an accident. Even in the best of circumstances, it involves learning to walk, move, and breathe again on your own. In many cases, a spinal cord injury proves to be a catastrophic one, with low survival rates. The victim could face countless lifelong challenges in the aftermath of this life-changing event, including inferior muscle tone and infections of the respiratory tract.
Treating and managing a spinal cord injury can be challenging and extremely expensive. Excessive treatment costs with medical bills running into hundreds of thousands or sometimes, even millions of dollars, over many years of medical care and therapies, are not unusual.
The best option to recover your losses in the event of a spinal cord injury is to file a claim or lawsuit against the individual or entity responsible for your injury. This post discusses the causes of SCIs, factors that might affect the calculation of your compensation claim, and how an experienced spinal injury lawyer can help you file your spinal injury claim in New York City.
Common Causes of a Spinal Cord Injury in NYC
Spinal cord injuries often occur due to extensive damage to the vertebrae of the spinal column, or in some cases, to the spinal cord. A traumatic impact on the spine that dislocates compresses, or fractures one or more spinal column vertebrae may cause a spinal cord injury. The injury may also result from a penetrating knife wound or a gunshot that cuts the spinal cord.
Tracts, or bundles of nerves, in your spinal cord, carry messages from the brain to the rest of your body. Motor tracts transfer signals from the brain to manage muscle movement, and sensory tracts transport signals related to pain, pressure, heat, cold, and limb position, from various body parts to your brain.
Any damage, whether traumatic or non-traumatic, to the nerve fibers in the injured region, may impair nerves and muscles below the injury site. This could lead to a full or partial loss of sensation and motor control in the victim of a spinal cord injury. Bleeding, inflammation and fluid accumulation around your spinal cord may occur due to the traumatic injury. This further aggravates the injury, resulting in additional damage over a period of a few days or even weeks.
Certain other medical conditions like infections, arthritis, cancer, or disk degeneration may be the reason behind a non-traumatic spinal cord injury. The most common causes of SCI in the United States are:
Motor Vehicle Collisions
Auto and motorcycle crashes account for almost 50 percent of spinal cord injuries in the country each year, making them the topmost cause of such injuries.
For older people over the age of 65, there is a heightened risk of spinal cord injury, most often due to a fall. Overall, falls account for almost one-third of spinal cord injuries.
Over 13 percent of spinal cord injuries are a result of an act of violence of one sort or another, the most common being gunshot injuries, followed by knife wounds.
Sporting and recreational activities, especially impact sports, are the cause of about 10 percent of all spinal cord injuries.
Alcohol use leads to almost a quarter of spinal cord injuries.
Medical conditions like osteoporosis, arthritis, cancer, and inflammation of the spinal cord, are the leading causes of non-traumatic spinal cord injuries. Complicated surgical procedures also carry a risk of causing spinal cord injuries. The medical facility can be held responsible if the injury is due to an error during the surgery.
An experienced attorney can help you establish liability and also identify the party liable for your spinal cord injury, either due to negligence or willful misconduct. You should not be made to suffer the consequences of someone else’s grievous error of judgment or negligent action.
Critical Factors that Influence a Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit
A spinal cord injury can devastate the lives of its victims as well as their families and loved ones. The survivors need to constantly live with long-term health issues, including increased risk of infections, respiratory complications, and loss of varied sensory and motor functions.
These medical challenges are in addition to the financial and emotional challenges they need to tackle constantly, in dealing with their injury. The settlement value in a spinal cord injury lawsuit depends on a number of factors.
Let us review a few of these factors that a court takes into account when calculating payouts in your spinal cord injury compensation claim:
Nature and Extent of Injuries
The severity of your back injuries assumes a crucial role in calculating the monetary value of your settlement payout. You are eligible for a higher amount of compensation for your pain and suffering if the nature of your injuries is severe.
Plaintiffs suffering life-threatening or grievous injuries have far more chances of securing large settlement amounts, as compared to spinal injury victims who recover sufficiently, without their movement being affected.
When you file a lawsuit for damages related to a spinal cord injury, you are not just fighting to recover the expenses on your medical care. You can also sue for the loss of your potential earnings and your loss of ability to be the breadwinner for your family. If the nature and extent of your injuries are more severe, it increases the potential settlement value of your claim.
One of the primary reasons for filing a lawsuit is to recover out-of-pocket expenses and claim potential future expenses on your medical treatment and care. This makes your current medical bills, as well as the potential future medical care costs, key issues of contention in the negotiation for settlement of your claim.
In spinal cord injury claims, medical bills usually constitute the largest proportion of a settlement figure or jury award. As a result, high medical care bills, and severe injuries that may incur high medical costs in the future, help in raising the value of your claim.
The main benefit of a settlement for both you and the defendant is that it helps avoid the trial costs and also the uncertainties of a court trial. Owing to this reason, the at-fault party and their insurance company always have a bigger incentive to settle the case. If you have a plethora of clinching evidence against the other party, the other party, for the fear of a harsh verdict in front of a jury, may prefer to settle even for a large sum.
Irrefutable evidence, tragic injuries, a highly believable testimony, and a sympathetic jury. These are the critical factors for the other party when determining whether to face trial or agree to a settlement. Your lawyer must emphasize the losses suffered by you, your family, and society in general, in front of the jury. The more compelling this narrative is, the higher the chances of winning a large award at trial.
Age and Health of the Plaintiff
Younger plaintiffs usually have better chances of recovering a higher settlement, since the bigger portion of their lives still lies ahead and that translates into more medical care costs. A longer productive life span seemingly gone a-begging also means greater monetary loss due to the loss of potential future earnings.
As with age, juries may also look at the factor of the plaintiff’s health when deciding on a lawsuit. A person in the prime of their life and health stands to lose more than a person whose age and health are on the wane.
Privacy Concerns and Likely Loss of Reputation
Defendants are more inclined towards a settlement to protect and uphold their reputation. A sealed settlement is the best way to avoid a drawn-out and potentially ugly courtroom drama that could get them bad press. For this reason, if your case is damaging to the other party’s reputation, they might be more compelled to settle.
Statutory Matters of Contention
As a first-time plaintiff, it might come as a surprise to you that evidence, testimony, and cross-examinations come into play quite late in the lawsuit process. Mostly, it is a tussle about jurisdictional issues, eligibility for damages, and legal precedent, between the lawyers from both sides.
Contentious legal issues, like the case not filed within the statute of limitations, or the defendant being entitled to immunity on certain grounds, might prove to be a setback to your settlement chances. Your spinal cord injury lawyer in New York City might need to submit a number of appropriate motions, which is a highly time-consuming legal process. The length of this process depends on the amount of evidence in your case, and the complexity of your lawsuit.
Cause of Injury
A major factor in a spinal cord injury lawsuit is the cause of the injury, especially if that cause involves negligence or malice. Typically, a spinal cord injury lawsuit seeking compensation must belong to one of these categories:
Negligence: Negligence is the primary basis for most personal injury claims. You need to prove the correlation between the act of negligence and your consequent injuries. An individual or entity guilty of being consistently negligent might face punitive damages on account of malice and recklessness.
Defective Products: Products liability applies in a spinal injury case where a design flaw or manufacturing defect in a product may lead to injuries. Again, as with negligence, you need to establish a correlation between the defect in the product and the injuries, for you to have a valid claim.
We will Pursue Your Claim for Maximum Damages while You Can Focus on Your Recovery
At Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP, our goal is to make things so easy for you that you can focus on your recovery while we handle everything on your behalf. We strongly believe in maintaining ongoing healthy communication with our clients about all aspects of their cases.
If you or a loved one is the victim of spinal cord injuries due to someone else’s negligence, you can bring your questions and concerns to our competent attorneys and compassionate staff, who are always willing and ready to talk to you. When you are ready to talk to us, call Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP today at 212-344-1000 or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation.
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