Serious accidents, including motor vehicle crashes and slips, and falls, can lead to spinal cord injuries, such as vertebrae fractures and paralysis. These injuries often require significant medical treatment and come with severe pain, suffering, and inconvenience. When accident victims suffer spinal cord injuries due to another person’s negligence, they may file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
If you or someone you love recently suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident, speak with an experienced spinal cord injury lawyer as quickly as possible. Your lawyer can help you file a claim and negotiate with the responsible party’s insurance company, seeking the monetary damages you deserve.
If the insurance company refuses to take your case seriously and compensate you fairly, you can file a lawsuit against the responsible individual or entity and litigate your case in court. If your case must go to a civil jury trial or binding arbitration hearing, your lawyer can represent you at those legal proceedings, aggressively advocate for your legal interests, and help you obtain the best possible result.
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Start by Seeking Professional Help
No one should address a possible spinal cord injury alone – medically or legally. Just like you need professional medical care, you also need professional legal assistance. There is no reason to navigate the injury claim process while already dealing with a life-changing and debilitating injury. The best thing you can do is seek a legal evaluation as soon as your physical condition stabilizes.
Common Categories of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries can lead to serious medical complications and may leave an accident victim permanently impaired. Some of the most common back and spinal cord injuries include permanent soft tissue injuries, vertebrae fractures, and full or partial paralysis.
A soft tissue injury is a muscular contusion, sprain, or strain that does not involve a fracture or broken bone. Although no bone break is involved, soft tissue injuries can still leave an accident victim in severe pain and may result in ongoing complications. For example, a serious soft tissue injury may require surgical treatment to correct it. An accident victim may also need to attend pain management to work through their symptoms.
Another type of spinal cord injury is a vertebrae fracture. A person’s spinal cord has thirty-three vertebrae. When one of these vertebrae cracks or breaks, a fracture occurs. These injuries can lead to severe pain and might require spinal cord fusion surgery to correct.
Finally, some spinal cord injuries result in full or partial paralysis. For example, spinal paraplegia occurs when an accident victim loses the ability to move the lower half of their body, including their legs and feet. Quadriplegia, on the other hand, is when an accident victim cannot use all four of their extremities.
If you or someone you care about suffered severe spinal cord damage in an accident resulting from negligence, you should receive all the medical treatment you need.
While you focus your attention on recovering from your injury as much as possible, a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in your area can begin gathering your medical records, investigation reports, police documents, witness statements, and other potential evidence to use in your personal injury claim or lawsuit.
After you know your overall prognosis and potential future losses, your lawyer can send a demand package to the insurance company representative and begin negotiating a fair settlement offer in your case.
What Types of Accidents Cause Spinal Cord Damage?
Many types of serious accidents can lead to spinal cord damage and paralysis. These injuries typically result from accidents where an object forcefully strikes the accident victim’s back or they hit the ground with a strong degree of force. Some of the most common accidents that lead to spinal cord damage include:
Car accidents. In most instances, car crashes happen when people drive recklessly or carelessly. For example, a driver might violate a traffic law, exceed the speed limit, drive while intoxicated, or engage in distracted driving or road rage. These negligent driving maneuvers may cause a severe collision that can eject a driver or passenger from their vehicle, causing spinal cord damage.
Alternatively, the force of the crash might cause an accident victim’s body to move violently inside their vehicle, bringing about spinal cord damage. Head-on collisions, where the front of one vehicle hits the front of another vehicle, are the most likely to cause spinal cord and paralysis injuries.
Premises accidents. Another common cause of spinal cord damage is premises accidents. Property owners have a duty to maintain their premises safely and carefully at all times for the benefit of their property visitors. Property owners must warn about or correct dangerous hazards on their premises within a reasonable time.
Business owners also have a duty to inspect their premises regularly for unknown hazards. If they come across a defect during their search, they have a duty to properly warn about or correct them for the benefit of their visitors. When premises owners fail to maintain their properties reasonably, and an accident occurs, they and their insurance companies may be liable for the accident victim’s injuries and damages.
Common accidents on others’ premises include slip and fall accidents, staircase accidents, and negligent security incidents, where a premises owner fails to maintain an adequate security presence on the property at a given time.
When a premises visitor falls on the ground and hits their neck or back, they are likely to suffer some type of back injury, whether it be a soft tissue contusion, broken bone, or spinal cord injury.
If you suffered any of these injuries in a recent accident that resulted from someone else’s negligence, you have legal options available to you. A spinal cord injury lawyer in your area can go over those options and help you embark on a successful course of action for your claim or lawsuit.
Your lawyer will stand by your side every step of the way, advocating for you, negotiating with insurance company adjusters, and, if necessary, litigating your case in court for an efficient resolution.
Prerequisites to Filing a Spinal Cord Lawsuit
Before filing a personal injury lawsuit in the court system based on a spinal cord injury, you will need to file an insurance claim with the company covering the at-fault individual or entity.
If you suffered your spinal cord injury in a motor vehicle crash and the responsible driver did not have any insurance coverage or they fled the accident scene you can turn to your own insurance company and pursue a first-party uninsured motorist claim. Alternatively, you can turn to the Alberta Motor Vehicle Accident Claims (MVAC) Program, which provides up to $200,000 worth of insurance coverage in uninsured motor vehicle accident cases.
The claims-filing process starts when your lawyer gathers important documentation in your case, including imaging studies of your spinal cord, medical records, lost income documents from your employer, witness statements, and police reports, and submits them to the appropriate insurance company adjuster. The adjuster will then decide whether to accept fault for the accident. If they do accept fault, they may place an initial offer on the table to resolve your spinal-cord-injury claim.
Even in personal injury cases that involve spinal cord injuries and paralysis, insurance company adjusters will typically not put a top dollar on the case initially. Instead, your lawyer may need to negotiate with the adjuster several times to resolve the claim in a favourable manner. If the adjuster refuses to offer you the full amount of compensation you need, given the severity of your spinal cord injuries, you have the option to file a lawsuit and pursue litigation in the Alberta courts.
Your lawyer can help you make difficult legal decisions in your case and determine whether litigation may be a good option, given the current settlement offer, the circumstances of your accident, and the severity of your spinal cord injuries.
When to File a Lawsuit for a Spinal Cord Injury
Accident victims should likely file a personal injury lawsuit in their case under two circumstances. The first circumstance is when the insurance company adjuster denies liability for your accident. In other words, they may be unwilling to accept that their insured caused the subject accident.
Next, you may need to file a lawsuit in your case if the insurance company simply refuses to offer you reasonable settlement compensation, given the severity of your injuries in the circumstances surrounding your accident. A good settlement offer truly compensates you for all of your accident-related losses.
If you and your lawyer decide to file a lawsuit, this does not mean that settlement negotiations have to end. In fact, many spinal cord injury cases resolve during the litigation stage. However, by choosing to litigate your case in the court system, the court will become actively involved, and they establish dates and deadlines for various case milestones. In addition, the court may schedule one or more settlement conference dates along with a trial date.
If the case does not settle during litigation, it will likely go to a jury trial. During a trial, your lawyer can introduce documentary evidence and present witnesses to testify in support of your case. Your lawyer can also call you to the witness stand to talk about how your spinal cord injuries have affected your overall life and well-being. The jury will then decide the outcome of all disputed issues in the case.
As an alternative to a jury trial, the parties may consider alternative dispute resolution, like mediation or binding arbitration, to resolve the spinal cord injury case amicably.
Recoverable Monetary Damages for Spinal Cord Injuries
Victims of accidents who sustain spinal cord injuries often undergo lengthy medical treatment, including surgical procedures and physical therapy. In addition, accident victims may be unable to work for a lengthy time, placing a severe financial strain on themselves and their families.
Fortunately, accident victims may be eligible to recover various types of monetary compensation if they can prove the legal elements of their case. The types and levels of monetary damages that spinal-cord-injury victims may recover often vary from case to case and will depend upon the severity of their injuries, the circumstances surrounding their accident, the amount of time they missed from work, and other related factors.
Compensable damages in spinal cord injury cases include:
- Lost earnings
- Loss of earning capacity
- Mental distress
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of the ability to use a body part
- Loss of spousal companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Permanent disfigurement and disability
A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in your area can advocate for you during all settlement negotiations and litigation proceedings. Your lawyer will do everything possible to maximize the total recovery you receive from the settlement or litigation in your case.
Call an Experienced Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Near You Today
If you suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident that was not your fault, a lawyer can explain your legal rights and options. Never wait too long to seek the legal representation that you need in your case. Doing so may jeopardize your right to recover monetary compensation and damages.
In Alberta, spinal cord injury victims have only two years from the date of their accident to file a lawsuit that seeks monetary recovery. This statutory time has very limited exceptions. If you file your lawsuit in the court system belatedly, you will no longer be eligible to recover any monetary compensation for your spinal cord injuries. Therefore, act quickly to retain the legal help you need after your accident.
A skilled spinal-cord-injury lawyer in your area will aggressively represent your legal interests at every stage of the case. If the insurance company will not treat you fairly and offer favorable compensation for your spinal cord injuries, your Edmonton Personal Injury Law firm can represent you in all litigation proceedings and help you maximize your total damage award.