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Recovering Financial Compensation for Spinal Cord Injuries

Posted by Dmitry Gorin | Jul 22, 2021

There are some spinal cord injuries that cause permanent damage on the victim, such as paraplegia or quadriplegia. There are also other spinal cord injuries that cause temporary disabilities and chronic pain resulting in overwhelming medical expenses and lost wages from work.

Spinal Cord Injury Attorney in California
If you have a spinal cord injury due to negligence, you are entitled to receive financial compensation.

The spinal cord starts at the base of your brain and ends just above your waist. It's essentially a massive bundle of nerves that transmits information back and forth from your brain to rest of the body.

It's covered for protection by many ring-shaped bones (vertebrae). In situations where the spinal cord suffer a sudden forceful impact, it can cause fractures that will damage the nerves that don't regenerate.

The exact location on your body injury will normally determine the level of injury. In many cases, sudden trauma will result in the inability to move to certain limbs, or paralysis, and the victim will not even feel sensation below where the injury occurred.

If you have sustained a serious catastrophic injury, such as a spinal cord damage, you will need experienced legal representation to have the best chance at recovering maximum financial compensation.

Most insurance companies will attempt to convince a victim to settle for less than their case is worth. You need to protect your legal rights by retaining a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer who knows how to deal with spinal cord injury claims.

We don't charge you any fees unless we are successful in obtaining a compensation award.  We will review in detail below spinal cord injuries and how to recover compensation if you are the victim of negligence.

What is the Anatomy of the Spinal Cord?

The spine is a complex system, comprised of a myelin-sheathed column of nerves, protected by 31 vertebrae. From the top-down, the spine has four distinct regions:

  • cervical spinal cord is the top part of the spinal cord where the brain connects it to the neck and then the back, consisting of eight vertebrae;
  • thoracic spinal cord essentially makes up the middle of the spinal cord and consist of twelve vertebrae;
  • lumbar spinal cord is the lower part of the spinal cord in the back where it starts to bend and consist of five lumbar vertebrae;
  • sacral spine is also the lower region of the spine with five vertebrae where it bends inward and contains the nerve roots.

Injuries to the spinal cord can vary from mild to severe, and long-term consequences can be particularly debilitating. The costs for rehabilitation and care can also be extensive.

What are the Types of Spinal Cord Injuries?

Spinal cord injuries fall into two categories based on the extent of the nerves that are damaged. They are classified as either partial or complete.

A partial or incomplete spinal cord injury typically leave some bodily function at the point of the injury. The victim normally is able to move one limb and have sensation.

Partial spinal cord injuries typically occur from some type of compression that reduces the brain's ability to send signals below the site of the injury.

Partial injuries will always widely vary from one person to another and some motor functions might not work correctly.

There are some partial spinal cord injuries that result in triplegia – which is losing movement or sensation in one arm and both legs.

The most common type of partial spinal cord injuries includes the anterior cord syndrome, central cord syndrome, and the Brown-Sequard syndrome.

Complete spinal cord injuries are clearly the most serious and occurs when the brain's ability to send signals to the site of the injury has been eliminated.

Any serious injury that impacts the lumbar spinal cord will normally result in paralysis below the waist, but you will maintain function in your upper body and arms, known as paraplegia.

Triplegia typically causes a loss of sensation and movement in one arm and both legs, and is also considered a partial or incomplete spinal cord injury.

If there are complete injuries in the cervical spine, it will often cause a loss of motor function in the lower and upper body, known as tetraplegia and quadriplegia.

Tetraplegia is the most severe type of spinal cord injury and eliminates any ability to move limbs below the injury site, and normally causes problems with bladder and bowel control, and other daily routine bodily functions.

What are the Most Common Causes of a Spinal Cord Injury?

Spinal disks and vertebrae are primary parts of the spinal cord. Thus, if any part of the spine sustains damage in an accident, then it could result in life-long consequences.

In order to determine compensation for your spine injury, we need to first identify what caused your injury. 

Motor vehicle accidents are by far the leading cause of spinal cord injuries, accounting for nearly 50% of the approximately 13,000 instances that occur each year. Other spinal cord injuries stem from:

What are the Most Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injury?
Motor vehicle accidents in California are the leading cause of victims suffering a spinal cord injury.

We will thoroughly review your accident and investigate who could be held responsible.

Our personal injury lawyers have years of experience handling serious catastrophic injury cases and identifying the at-fault parties.

What Type of Compensation Can I Receive?  

A spinal cord is a life-altering event that may entitle you to compensation for:

  • Emergency treatment,
  • Diagnostic imaging,
  • Lost income,
  • Diminished earning power,
  • Surgery,
  • Other medical costs,
  • Pain and suffering.

Workers' compensation 

If you suffered a spinal cord at work, you could seek financial recovery through a workers' compensation claim. This normally covers payments for your medical bills and provides most of your weekly wages without having to prove negligence or liability.

If another person caused your spine injury due to negligence, then a personal injury lawsuit can be filed and possibly result in a larger amount of compensation for your losses.

Don't just accept a workers' compensation settlement and forfeit your right to file an injury claim against your employer without first speaking with an injury lawyer about your legal options.

You May Receive Compensation for All Medical Costs

According to the Mayo Clinic, your spinal cord injury may require rigorous, long-term treatment. Compensation from your claim or lawsuit may cover the above-listed medical costs, as well as:

  • Procedures to immobilize your neck,
  • A stay in the intensive care unit (if necessary),
  • Visits with spinal care specialists,
  • Medications,
  • In-home caregiver services,
  • Light-weight wheelchairs,
  • Voice-activated technology,
  • Computer-controlled devices,
  • Follow-up medical care,
  • Experimental treatment,
  • Rehabilitation for your injuries.

You may also need in-home medical equipment, depending on the nature of your injury. Many of your medical costs may be lifelong expenses. In such cases, you deserve the equivalent of lifelong compensation.

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation explains that the average lifetime cost of spinal cord injuries can be greater than $4 million in certain cases.

Those who caused your injury may be responsible for 100% of your medical costs. Factors that can dictate your medical costs include:

  • Your specific type of spinal cord injury,
  • Your symptoms,
  • The severity of any paralysis that you experience,
  • Your specific treatment plan,
  • Your array of injury-related damages.

Medical costs may be only one type of damage that entitles you to compensation.

Other Recoverable Damages for a Spinal Cord Injury

In addition to your medical expenses, you may receive compensation for:

  • Professional damages (lost wages, productivity, etc.),
  • Disfigurement,
  • Loss of fulfillment,
  • Loss of sexual activity and reproductive function,
  • The cost of fertility treatment,
  • Mental anguish,
  • Psychological counseling,
  • Loss of physical capabilities,
  • Any other injury-related losses.

A spinal cord injury affects virtually every facet of a victim's life. There is a strong correlation between spinal cord injuries and conditions like depression. There is a monetary value for each negative consequence of your injury.

Recoverable Damages for a Spinal Cord Injury
There are many other recoverable damages you could receive other than just medical costs.

Liability can vary greatly between case types. You may generally receive a financial recovery through either:

  • Insurance,
  • Injury lawsuit.

Workplace accidents, motor vehicle accidents, and accidents that occur on an insured property may all qualify you for insurance compensation.

In other circumstances, litigation may be your only option.

More than one party can be liable for a spinal cord injury. For example, an employer may be responsible for the actions of an employee who caused your spinal cord injury.

Each case requires a unique examination of fault and liability.

You May Receive Compensation Even If You Are Partially at Fault for Your Injury

You may be deemed partially at fault for an accident that caused your spinal cord injuries. This does not necessarily preclude you from receiving compensation.

California Civil Code (CC) § 1431.2 explains that:

  • “Each defendant shall be liable only for the amount of non-economic damages allocated to that defendant in direct proportion to that defendant's percentage of fault, and a separate judgment shall be rendered against that defendant for that amount.”

In other words, you can receive compensation so long as you are responsible for less than 50% of the cause of your accident.

Personal Injury Lawsuit for Spinal Cord Injuries

Our experienced injury lawyers can guide you through each phase of the personal injury process and explain your legal options. It's important to understand what you should do after an injury.

At Injury Justice Law Firm, we have a record of success dealing with catastrophic injury cases, including all type of back injuries and spinal cord injuries.

We know how to negotiate and fight the insurance companies who will almost always attempt to get you to settle for less than your case is worth.

We have two office locations in Los Angeles County and offer a free case evaluation by calling (818) 781-1570, or you can fill out our contact form.

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About the Author

Dmitry Gorin

Dmitry Gorin is a licensed attorney, who has been involved in criminal trial work and pretrial litigation since 1994. Before becoming partner in Eisner Gorin LLP, Mr. Gorin was a Senior Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles Courts for more than ten years. As a criminal tri...


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