There are many factors that go into determining the level of compensation someone receives for a spinal cord injury. In this guide, we will discuss how much can be awarded in different scenarios. Please keep in mind these are approximate prices, and it is recommended you contact Nakase Accident Lawyers & Employment Attorneys for a free consultation to discuss a more accurate figure. Spinal cord injuries can range from moderate, causing pain and difficulty in moving, to severe, causing paralysis or loss of bladder, bowel, or sexual functions.
How Much Compensation Can I Claim For My Spinal Cord Injury?
The compensation awarded to spinal cord victims can vary dramatically, as there are a lot of factors to take into account. In the case of severe spinal cord injuries that cause paralysis and inability to work or need for care, it is possible to receive millions in compensation. A calculation of settlement will factor in your specific circumstances and the impact of your injuries on your life.
If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, contact the attorneys at Nakase Accident Lawyers & Employment Attorneys for a free consultation. We will discuss your case and give you an indication of how much compensation you are entitled.
Compensation Claims For Spinal Injuries
If your spinal injury occurred through no fault of your own, then you are entitled to compensation for any expenses and difficulties your injuries cause. However, in terms of the amount of compensation you are due, it can vary significantly depending on the circumstances of your case.
In California, part of the compensation for your case will be “general damages” which account for pain and suffering, as well as inconvenience. There are general guidelines as to the value of general damages that can be claimed depending on the severity of the injury. However, it is also left largely up to your attorney to argue and provide evidence of the expenses.
- For severe spinal cord injuries, general damages of between $240,000 and $320,000 may be awarded.
- For moderately severe spinal cord injuries, general damages of between $160,000 and $240,000 may be awarded.
- For moderate spinal cord injuries, general damages of between $30,000 and $160,000 may be awarded.
Compensation For Financial Losses Due to Spinal Cord Injuries
Any financial losses incurred as a direct result of the accident or spinal cord injury must be compensated. In severe cases, spinal cord injury can result in disability and disfunction of bladder, bowel, or sexual systems. In most cases, spinal cord injuries will result in pain and a reduction in movement and sensation. Even a minor loss of sensation and movement or chronic pain can affect your ability to work. You may not be able to sit for the required work hours or lose the ability to perform certain functions of your job. In some cases, you may not be able to work at all.
Other complications of spinal cord injuries that would affect income or cost money include:
- Adapting your house to accommodate the limitations of your condition
- Ongoing rehabilitation or at-home care
- Ongoing medical treatment
These costs can continue for the rest of your life and are subject to inflation as well. Your attorney will work closely with medical experts and economists to calculate the ongoing limitations and care you will require and the estimated cost of them over the course of your life.
These types of damages are tangible and easy to prove through past medical bills and expert testimony. Your lawyer will add these to your general damages to create a total amount of compensation to claim. A general guideline for amounts of compensation that can be expected depending on the severity of the injury are as follows:
- For severe spinal cord injuries, total compensation of $3 million or more may be awarded.
- For moderately severe spinal cord injuries, total compensation of approximately $1 million may be awarded.
- For moderate spinal cord injuries, total compensation of up to $1 million may be awarded.
No Win, No Fee
At Nakase Accident Lawyers & Employment Attorneys, we understand the stress, financial and otherwise, that you and your family will be experiencing as a result of your injuries. We believe everyone should have access to the highest quality legal representation to help them claim every cent of compensation they are entitled to. Therefore, we offer free consultations, and if we take your case, you will not pay us a cent until we win your case. In the unlikely case that your claim is unsuccessful, you will not pay us anything.
Our California accident attorneys have a track record for success in dealing with spinal cord injuries. We have won millions of dollars in compensation for our clients, and are keen to help you get your life back on track after your accident. We understand all the complexities of these life-changing injuries and the physical and emotional pain they cause. No amount of money can undo the injury. The compensation you win will, however, help you receive the best quality support and rehabilitation you need.
What Is A Spinal Injury?
The spinal cord is the main highway connecting our brains messages to the rest of our body. The messages it transports control movement, function, and sensation. Any damage to the spinal cord can disrupt the normal functions of our body and result in organ dysfunction, immobility, pain, and the loss of sensation. Not all spinal injuries will have devastation outcomes, but some do. Even minor spinal cord injuries can cause pain and suffering and require some rehabilitation.
Five Factors That Control The Outcome of Your Case
When predicting the outcome and compensation for your case, our attorneys have found in their experience that the five factors are the most important to consider.
Factor 1: The Severity of Your Injuries
Neck and back injuries can be devastating, but they can vary significantly in their severity and impact. They can range from soft tissue injuries requiring a few weeks of rest to spinal cord injuries which result in permanent paralysis. Treatment can include prescription pain killers or multiple surgeries and rehabilitation to repair. The compensation for such injuries is linked to the costs of treatment and rehabilitation as well as the impact on your life. Therefore, the following things need to be considered when calculating compensation:
- Spinal cord injuries account for the highest settlement of all car accident injuries. This is simply because of the time and care involved in recovery, the cost of treatments, and the requirement of future treatments. Spinal cord injuries also require significant rehabilitation, can lead to loss of earning potential, and cause permanent disability as well as long-term emotional and mental health issues. Depending on the insurance resources of the negligent party, these cases often settle for over $1 million at least.
- The “middle ground” for most back and neck injury claims are disc injuries. Herniated discs may require a lengthy recovery, cause life-long chronic pain, and require multiple surgeries. However, herniated discs might also have a quick recovery with no ongoing issues.
- The “lower-end” of neck and back injury claims are generally soft tissue injuries and whiplash. These are painful, but there are unfortunately no tests which can show the severity of these injuries. Compensation will depend on the patient’s ability to describe and demonstrate the level of their pain or loss of function. Pre-existing injuries and conditions can also complicate these cases.
Things that can lower a settlement of a neck and back injury case include:
- Pre-existing injuries that are apparent in diagnostic tests and mentioned in your medical file for this injury.
- Diagnostic tests not showing acute injuries. It is much easier to claim compensation when there is proof of the injury in the first case.
- The speed by which the plaintiff needs a settlement. If you are willing to wait for a favorable settlement rather than jumping on a sizeable settlement offer, you are more likely to get compensation required to cover your expenses. This will show insurance companies you will not accept less than the value of your injuries and will take the case to court if necessary.
- Your medical expenses are mostly made up of diagnosis tests rather than actual treatment.
- Your recovery time was short, and you were not prescribed any medication or treatments for your injuries.
Factor 2: The Cost of Your Medical Expenses
Neck and back injuries are some of the most expensive injuries to suffer. In the first year of treatment alone, an injury to the spinal cord can cost up to $1 million in medical bills. Every subsequent year can cost $100,00 annually for care, rehabilitation, and treatment. Depending on the victim’s age at the time of injury, tetraplegia, a loss of function from the neck down, can easily expect their injury to cost $4 million in their lifetime.
The following costs are commonly associated with neck and spinal injuries:
- X-rays, CT and MRI scans, and other diagnostic tests
- Emergency treatments, these are the treatments you receive when you first visit the ER, such as immobilising your neck and spine to prevent further damage, assisting bodily functions, breathing assistance, and preventing shock.
- Hospital stays
- Surgery to repair the damage, stabilize the spine, remove debris or bone fragments, and relieve pressure on the spine.
- Daily assistance such as electronic aids or wheelchairs
Insurance companies will try and offer a sizeable settlement before the patient has even left the hospital and seen the cost of their medical bills. This is why it is important to speak to an experienced attorney before you accept an offer from an insurance company. Once you sign and accept the settlement, you are not allowed to seek further compensation for that accident. A lawyer will be able to give you a clearer picture of how much compensation you will need for your injuries.
Factor 3: Did You Miss Work Because of Your Injury?
An important expense to consider when calculating compensation is whether you had to miss work because of your injury. Factor in any work you have already missed as a result of your injury and recovery as well as any work you may miss in the future or loss of earning capacity. In the future, you may need to miss work to attend medical appointments. You may also need to reduce work down to part-time temporarily or permanently because of the limitations of your injuries. In some cases, you may not be able to work again.
Some of the things to consider when calculating lost wages are:
- If you are employed by a company rather than being self-employed, then your calculations will be based on your hourly rate and the standard hours worked. Your employer will be able to provide this amount or verify it in court. If you are self-employed, then it is a lot more difficult to prove lost income. The best way to do this is to provide your attorney with the average earnings over a period of time and any calendars or future bookings to prove missed future opportunities.
- If you were able to return to the same job, position, and perform the same tasks as before. If you had to accept another position with lower pay or change your career, this should be factored in. In the case where you are permanently disabled and unable to work at all, you will claim loss of future earning capacity. In both cases, your lawyer will work with an economist to calculate your likelihood of promotions, pay raises, and the rising age of retirement to obtain an accurate amount of missed wages.
Factor 4: Permanent Injuries
One factor that will significantly increase compensation is if there is a permanent injury. This is a common occurrence for back and neck injuries. Even a minor injury that will be permanent can attract a high settlement. It is important to discuss the potential for life-long or degenerative issues for your injury with your doctor. If there is a high likelihood, request your doctor note this in your records.
The more severe your injury is, the higher multiplier assigned to your injury. Each of these multipliers will increase the compensation for your case. The following factors will increase the multiplier for your claim:
- The severity of pain typically experienced by your injury
- Length and invasiveness of treatment for your injury
- The length of the recovery period
- The severity and visibility of the permanent effect of your injury
The more permanent the injury is, the more likely it is to affect your future opportunities and financial position. These cases attract high settlements because the effects of the injury are multiplied by your life expectancy.
Factor 5: Emotional Impact
When calculating the impact of injuries, physical and financial impacts are not the only ones considered, courts will accept emotional impact in the calculation of compensation. These are referred to as non-economic damages and are often the hardest to prove as there is no easy formula for putting a dollar amount to these. However, with a skilled and experienced lawyer, they will be able to calculate and argue this amount for you. They often make up a large percentage of the final settlement amount, so this is why it is so important to seek quality legal representation. Some of the non-economic damages your lawyer will consider are:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium (for your spouse)
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Humiliation due to disfigurement or the inability to perform duties that you were particularly skilled at
Non-economic damages often hinge on what the victim was formerly able to do but can no longer do. These can include day to day activities, as well as the victim’s self-image, which is no longer possible due to the spinal injury. This can include things like your shared love of dancing or travelling with your partner before your accident. Your hobby is not the only thing you have lost, but the enjoyment of time spent with your spouse. The effect this will have on your relationship with your spouse will also be taken into account. The more serious the injury, the higher this impact will be multiplied when calculating compensation.
Calculating The Value of Your Spinal Injury Claim
The above five factors are the main ones that impact the value of your claim; however, there are many other things your attorney will take into account. It is best to seek legal advice to ensure you have an accurate value of your claim before you consider settlement offers from the insurance company. At Nakase Accident Lawyers & Employment Attorneys, we offer free consultations to allow you to discuss your case with us so we can provide you with a considered estimation. If we decide to take your case, we will consult experts to create an accurate case value that we will claim from the insurance company. We believe it is important for spinal injury victims to have access to high-quality legal representation as the skill and experience level of your attorney is perhaps the biggest factor in how much compensation you will receive.
Contact us today to book your free consultation so we can discuss your case and answer any questions you may have. Call Nakase Accident Lawyers & Employment Attorneys on 888-600-8654.