Spinal cord injuries are disabling and devastating. If you or someone you love sustains a spinal cord injury in Southern California because someone else was negligent, arrange at once to discuss your rights with an Orange County spinal cord injury lawyer.
Approximately 12,000 spinal cord injuries are reported every year in this nation, and more than 200,000 people are partially or completely disabled due to an injury to the spinal cord.
What are your rights if you are injured because another person was negligent? What steps should you take? If you will continue reading this brief discussion of spinal cord injuries and your rights, you’ll find some of the answers you may need.
How Do Spinal Cord Injuries Happen?
A spinal cord injury is a result of damage to the vertebrae, adjacent ligaments, or the cord itself. An injury to the spinal cord often means the victim will be permanently disabled.
These injuries are typically caused by a traumatic, sudden blow to the spine that dislocates, compresses, crushes, or fractures one or more vertebrae. A person may be disabled by the shearing of a nerve, spinal cord compression, or the severing of the cord.
What Do Spinal Cord Injury Victims Experience?
A spinal cord injury may not be immediately obvious. Days or even weeks later, however, victims may experience swelling, inflammation, and fluid accumulation and bleeding around and in the spinal cord.
A spinal cord injury victim may experience a partial or complete loss of sensation, a partial or complete loss of the capacity for movement, and a loss of body organ functions below the location of the injury.
An injury to the spinal cord can impair the legs, the torso, bladder and bowel control, and sexual function. A cervical vertebrae injury – that is, an injury to vertebrae in the neck – can impair a victim’s ability to move his or her neck and arms or to breathe painlessly and freely.
What Are an Injury Victim’s Rights?
A spinal cord injury may prevent the victim from ever working again. It may require medical care and treatment for life – care and treatment that eventually could cost millions of dollars.
If you are injured by someone else’s negligence in California, you are entitled by law to compensation for your current and projected future medical costs, your lost wages and projected future lost wages, your personal suffering and pain, and your related damages and losses.
If you believe that you have sustained a spinal cord injury, seek medical attention immediately. If you were injured because another person was negligent, after you have been examined and treated, schedule a consultation with an Orange County personal injury attorney.
What Kinds of Accidents Cause Spinal Cord Injuries?
In California and across the nation, the accidents that cause most of the reported spinal cord injuries are:
- Traffic collisions: Car, truck, motorcycle, bus, bicycle, and pedestrian accidents account for over a third of all reported spinal injuries each year.
- Falls: For persons 65 or older, tripping or slipping and falling is the leading cause of spinal cord injuries.
- Sports and recreational injuries: Approximately ten percent of the reported spinal cord injuries involve contact sports or other recreational activities.
Additionally, violence involving knife or gunshot wounds causes approximately fifteen percent of the reported spinal cord injuries each year. Abuse of alcohol is involved in approximately one in four reported spinal cord injuries, including the injuries arising from traffic crashes.
Who is Most at Risk for a Spinal Cord Injury?
Although anyone may sustain a spinal injury, statistical and demographic factors indicate that some people are more likely than others to sustain an injury to the spinal cord:
- Males: Males disproportionately sustain spinal cord injuries. In the U.S., women sustain only about twenty percent of the reported spinal injuries.
- Those from 16 to 30 and those 65 and older: You are more likely to suffer a spinal injury if you’re between 16 and 30 or if you are 65 or older.
- Negligent behavior: Playing contact sports without safety gear or diving in shallow water can put anyone at risk for an injury to the spinal cord.
- Pre-existing conditions: If you struggle with osteoporosis or arthritis, even a minor injury to the spinal cord may develop into a serious medical condition.
What Should You Do if You Are Injured by Negligence?
Seek medical attention immediately if you are injured in a fall, a traffic collision, or any other accident. If you decide to bring an injury claim to recover compensation, you’ll need that medical documentation to prove how and to what extent you were injured.
To succeed with a personal injury claim or premises liability claim arising from a spinal cord injury, you and your Orange County personal injury attorney must prove that:
Another party – a property owner or another driver, for example – was negligent.
The other party’s negligence was a direct cause of your spinal cord injury.
When Should You Contact an Injury Attorney?
California’s statute of limitations for personal injury cases – the deadline for taking legal action to recover compensation – is two years from the date of the injury, but you should consult an Orange County spinal cord injury lawyer as soon as you can after you’ve been injured.
If the two-year deadline has passed, your case may qualify under one of the narrow exceptions, so go ahead and speak to an attorney. If you were injured recently, or if you are injured in the future, speak to an attorney at once.
Your personal injury claim or premises liability claim is stronger and more likely to succeed when your attorney can speak with the witnesses quickly and review the evidence before it deteriorates or goes missing.
How Are Spinal Cord Injury Claims Resolved?
If you take legal action, your attorney will negotiate with the negligent party’s attorney and/or insurance company. If you are offered a quick settlement, do not accept it until you’ve discussed it with your attorney. Let your attorney do the talking and negotiating on your behalf.
Most claims for spinal cord injuries are resolved privately when the attorneys work out a settlement that’s acceptable to all parties involved.
If your claim is disputed or if no reasonable settlement offer is made, your attorney will bring your case to trial, explain to a jury how you were injured, and ask the jurors to order the payment of your compensation.
It Costs Nothing to Begin the Legal Process
If you are – or if you become – a spinal cord injury victim, and if another person’s negligence is the reason you’re injured, it costs nothing to learn more or to launch the legal process. You pay no attorney’s fee until and unless you recover compensation.
If for any reason you are not compensated at the end of the legal process, you’ll pay no fee to your attorney. If you are a spinal cord injury victim, your first consultation with a personal injury attorney is provided without cost or obligation.
That first legal consultation is also your chance to obtain personalized legal advice and to learn how the law will apply in your own situation. If you sustain a spinal cord injury, and it’s someone else’s fault, help is here, and compensation is your right.