The impact of spinal cord injuries can be severe, physically and financially. If you or a member of your family suffered a spinal cord injury, you may be able to file a lawsuit and receive damages for your injury.
Spinal cord injury occurs when a person experiences damage to the spinal cord, which is the bundle of nerves located in the spinal column that relays messages between the body and your brain. Spinal cord injury results in partial or total loss of motor control or sensation, and it can leave the victim paralyzed. The spinal cord is responsible for some of the most important bodily functions including breathing, maintaining body temperature, bladder control, and sexual functioning. Damage to the spinal cord can result in devastating and permanent consequences.
The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center reports that spinal cord injury most commonly results from:
- motor vehicle accidents (cause of 42.1% of spinal cord injuries)
- falls (26.7%)
- acts of violence, such as gun shot wounds (15.1%)
- recreational sports activities (7.6%)
Spinal cord injury is usually caused by trauma to the spine. Spinal cord injuries can also be caused by an error made during a surgical procedure, which might constitute medical malpractice.
Your lawsuit depends on what caused your spinal cord injury. Sometimes, a spinal cord injury may be caused by negligence. Negligence is often the cause for personal injury lawsuits. In this type of lawsuit, you will need to prove that the offending party violated their duty to act with reasonable care, which resulted in your injury. If you were hit by a car and that caused your spinal cord injury, you will have to prove that the driver was not driving with reasonable care which caused them to hit you.
Spinal cord injuries can also be caused by defective products. For example, a defective airbag or seat belt in a car, which did not protect you in a car accident. In this type of lawsuit, you could file a lawsuit and receive compensation from the manufacturer, distributor, and retailer of the defective product.
A common defense in a spinal cord injury case is contributory and comparative negligence, meaning the defendant would argue that the plaintiff’s own carelessness caused the accident. “Contributory negligence” means that the victim’s own carelessness contributed to the injury, and “comparative negligence” means the victims and the defendant’s relative carelessness are weighed. According to the Mayo Clinic, approximately 1 in 4 spinal cord injuries involve alcohol; so, a defendant might claim the victim’s own intoxication was the cause of their injury.
A defendant might also use “assumption of the risk” as a defense. When you participate in a dangerous activity, such as skiing, you are choosing the engage in the activity. If your injury occurred during a voluntary dangerous activity, the defendant might argue that since you chose to participate in an activity that was likely to cause you harm, you are not entitled to compensation.
In personal injury lawsuits, the purpose of monetary compensation is to restore you to your pre-accident condition. So, damages would usually cover medical expenses and sometimes pain and suffering. Since spinal cord injuries are such serious and permanent injuries, compensation might also cover costs for ongoing health care and rehabilitation.