Why You Need an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer to Represent You in Your Spinal Cord Injury Claim
By David Carnes, Staff Writer
A spinal cord injury is a serious matter, because these types of injuries sever the communication between the brain and the body. This can result in a host of serious and lifelong medical problems, often including paralysis of all voluntary muscles below the neck. Spinal cord injury claims are typically complex and difficult to prove the full value of damages. The good news is that a skilled spinal cord injury lawyer will have a good understanding of the cause and nature of your injury as well as the value of the damages that you have suffered and will suffer in the future.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
Frequent causes of spinal cord injury claims include the following:
- Slip and fall accidents,
- Car and motorcycle accidents,
- Criminal violence (such as a gunshot wound),
- Participation in risky sporting activities.
In a negligence claim you assert that the defendant acted (or failed to act) in a careless manner, thereby causing your spinal cord injury. A typical example might be a collision with a driver who was texting at the time of the accident. Negligence also includes medical malpractice, such as a spinal cord injury that occurs during surgery. Although a doctor is held to a higher standard of care than an automobile driver, doctors and hospitals have a reputation for vigorously fighting medical malpractice claims.
Product Liability Claims
In a product liability claim you sue the manufacturer, wholesaler or retailer of a defective product that caused your spinal cord injury – the manufacturer of defective brake pads, for example. You must prove the existence of a design, manufacturing or warning defect. This can get complicated, especially if you are alleging a design defect, because the nature of the defect must be such that it actually caused the accident that injured you.
If you suffered a spinal cord injury due to an intentionally malicious act such as a gunshot, you can sue the perpetrator and win, even if he was acquitted in a criminal trial (because the burden of proof is lower in a civil lawsuit). The case can get tricky, however, if the defendant cannot afford to pay the judgment and lacks insurance covering him against his own criminal activity. A good personal injury lawyer will seek out additional defendants who can afford to pay a substantial judgment, such as a nightclub that served a belligerent defendant alcohol even after he became clearly intoxicated.
The defendant might raise one or more of a number of possible defenses against your claim, including:
- Contributory/comparative negligence, an assertion that the accident was partly your fault, which can reduce or eliminate your damages even if you win the case.
- Assumption of the risk, a denial of liability that might apply if you were injured while engaging in an inherently risky activity such as hang gliding, or if you signed a waiver of liability prior to engaging in a safer activity such as weight training.
- Pre-existing condition, an assertion that your pre-existing injury is partially responsible for your current condition (if you have had back problems before, for example).
Damages in a spinal cord injury case can be immense, because of the lifetime of medical care that victims typically require. The danger, however, lies in the difficulty of projecting medical expenses decades into the future, a highly speculative endeavor without the assistance of someone who knows what he is doing, such as a personal injury lawyer with experience handling spinal cord injury lawsuits. Once the case is over, you can’t revive your claim if you run out of money years down the road.
If you have suffered a spinal cord injury that you believe was someone else’s fault, use our attorney search function to locate a spinal cord injury lawyer near you.