How Much Is My Spinal Cord Injury Worth in a Lawsuit?

March 25, 2024 | Jarrett Blakeley
How Much Is My Spinal Cord Injury Worth in a Lawsuit?

Spinal cord injuries are among the most serious and life-altering personal injuries one can suffer. They often necessitate ongoing medical treatment, potentially leading to a loss of income and significantly hampering the quality of life. If you've suffered a spinal cord injury due to the negligent or intentional act of another, you might be entitled to compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.

But how much is your spinal cord injury worth in a lawsuit? It's a question that could be top of mind as you grapple with the unfolding reality of your injury. Deciphering the complexities of a personal injury lawsuit can seem daunting, but having a solid understanding of how your injury's worth is calculated can demystify the process, giving you a clearer picture of the path to rightful compensation.

Our personal injury attorneys at Blakeley Law Firm aim to shed light on spinal cord injury lawsuits. Here, we answer your questions about how damages are calculated, the types of damages you can claim, the potential value of your lawsuit, and the immense value of having skilled legal representation. Armed with this knowledge and the aid of a Florida spinal cord injury lawyer, you are better placed to navigate the legal landscape and potential compensation owed to you. 

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What to Know About Spinal Cord Injuries

Tablet displaying "Spinal Cord Injury", stethoscope, and smartphone with health apps.

Located within the vertebral column, the spinal cord is the central conduit of your nervous system, a vital highway transmitting messages between the brain and the rest of your body. So, when an injury happens here, it's not just a bump in the road—it can lead to a complete shutdown. Hundreds of thousands of individuals around the world suffer from the debilitating effects of spine injuries, leading to billions of dollars in healthcare costs every year. 

There's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to how spinal cord injuries occur. In fact, these life-altering incidents can stem from a multitude of situations occurring in our everyday lives. Some common scenarios include car accidents, where the force of impact might cause direct trauma to the spine or significant whiplash injuries. Pedestrian accidents, truck accidents, and even slips and falls can also lead to such injuries. 

The aftermath of such an injury could mean chronic pain, loss of mobility, loss of sensation, difficulty breathing, or alterations in bodily functions. In other words, a spinal cord injury doesn’t merely disrupt your life; it often redraws the map completely.

Common Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries range in severity, but they often fall into one of two categories: complete and incomplete injuries.

  • Complete Spinal Cord Injuries: This is a worst-case scenario, where the injury results in a total loss of sensory and motor functions below the injury level. Notable types of complete injuries include Tetraplegia—where the arms, hands, trunk, legs, and pelvic organs are all affected—and Paraplegia—where all or part of the trunk, legs, and pelvic organs are impacted.
  • Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries: An incomplete injury signifies that some function below the injury level is retained. The degree of function depends on the severity of the injury, thus making this category quite broad. Examples include Anterior cord syndrome, Central cord syndrome, and Brown-Sequard syndrome, among others.

Spinal cord injuries frequently involve heavy medical jargon. We are not medical experts. However, as personal injury lawyers, we understand that the severity and lasting impact of spinal injuries underlines the need for hefty compensation to cover the exorbitant costs. These include medical treatments, potential loss of income, and significant lifestyle adjustments you face. The medical complexities surrounding spinal cord injury also set the stage for how damages are calculated in spinal cord injury lawsuits. 

How are Damages Calculated in Spinal Cord Injury Cases?

When you file a lawsuit for a spinal cord injury, your primary aim is to seek justice through monetary compensation, also known as damages. So, how are these damages in a spinal cord injury lawsuit calculated?

There's no one-size-fits-all answer because each case is as unique as the individual involved. However, the law does provide some broad parameters to consider when calculating damages. Typically, the damages awarded in a spinal cord injury case are aimed at compensating the injured party for all the losses experienced as a direct result of the injury.

These losses, or damages, are generally categorized into two types: Economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages pertain to tangible, out-of-pocket expenses and losses, such as medical bills or loss of income. Non-economic damages involve more subjective, non-tangible harms like pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life.

Furthermore, the severity and permanency of the injury greatly impact the calculated damages. For instance, a complete spinal cord injury that results in paraplegia will typically result in significantly higher damages than an incomplete injury that allows some level of recovery.

Economic Damages

These damages represent your financial losses that are directly attributable to your spinal cord injury. Let's zoom in on two primary components that form economic damages: medical expenses and lost earnings.

Medical Expenses

Medical expenses often make up the most substantial chunk of economic damages. After a severe injury like a spinal cord injury, the medical costs can rapidly pile up. These range from immediate emergency care and possible surgeries to ongoing treatments, physical therapy, medication, and even necessary modifications to your home due to mobility challenges. These expenses could also paint a picture of potential future medical costs, especially for long-term or permanent injuries that necessitate continued care.

Lost Income and Loss of Earning Capacity

A spinal cord injury doesn't just disrupt your health; it often disrupts your ability to work as well. Economic damages consider not only the income you've lost since the injury but also the income you're likely to lose in the future due to your injury's impact on your capacity to earn. This calculation can be complex and often involves consultation with vocational experts and economists to project the earning capacity accurately.

Economic damages are unique to your circumstances. As such, understanding and documenting these costs is vital to ensuring you seek appropriate compensation. It solidifies the role of an experienced spinal cord injury attorney in guiding this process, ensuring that your claim covers the true extent of your economic damages.

Non-Economic Damages

If economic damages are the tangible financial losses you've suffered due to your spinal cord injury, non-economic damages encompass the more intangible, harder-to-quantify effects that the injury has inflicted on your life. Here, we transition from the more measurable realm of lost income and hospital bills to valuing pain, suffering, and altered quality of life.

Pain and Suffering

Experiencing a spinal cord injury is not just physically painful; it's emotionally distressing as well. Whether it's the ongoing discomfort, the frustration of a delayed recovery, or the psychological trauma from the incident itself, it's clear that pain and suffering extend beyond just physical aches. Estimating this component accurately often involves the use of medical records, psychiatric evaluations, and expert witnesses who can testify to the psychological impact of such injuries.

Reduced Quality of Life

A spinal cord injury can affect your capacity to enjoy life as you once did. What was once easy might now be challenging, and some activities may be entirely off-limits post-injury. This substantial decrease in your quality of life is another key non-economic damage. Evaluating this often involves considering your past lifestyle, the specific ways in which your injury has limited your joy and fulfillment, and the future loss of enjoyable activities.

Assessing non-economic damages is difficult to pin down exactly because you're trying to assign a value to rather abstract, personal concepts like pain or happiness. But these damages are just as real and impactful as their economic counterparts, if not more so. Identifying, articulating, and suitably valuing these damages is often challenging but is essential to ensuring fair compensation reflects the true impact of your injury. It's another area where the experience of a skilled attorney can significantly benefit your case.

What is the Average Spinal Cord Injury Settlement Amount?

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. To determine the exact cost of your potential settlement or award, you’ll need a legal team who can thoroughly evaluate your case in detail. However, consider some of the following hypothetical examples based on real-life scenarios that we’ve seen before. 

Consider a case where John Doe, a successful 35-year-old executive, suffered a severe spinal cord injury in a high-speed car accident, rendering him paraplegic. In addition to his vast medical expenses, his potential loss of future earnings, plus his altered quality of life, can result in a multimillion-dollar verdict.

On the flip side, let's imagine Jane Smith, a retired 70-year-old homeowner, who slips and falls at a local Walmart, resulting in an incomplete spinal cord injury. Although her medical costs might be substantial, her lack of wage loss and the relatively less drastic impact on her life could result in a lower settlement. However, the resulting compensation should still more than adequately compensate her for the non-economic damages, medical costs, and need for home modifications she needs. 

As these illustrations demonstrate, the combination of economic and non-economic damages can vary dramatically in determining the worth of a spinal cord injury in a lawsuit. It's a complex equation of justice that not only adds but also multiplies, subtracts, and divides to estimate your spinal cord injury's worth. 

Individual clutching neck and back, indicating possible spinal cord discomfort or injury.

Having to quantify the pain, suffering, and financial toll of spinal cord injuries is no easy task. Given how high the stakes often are and how varied the factors are, the worth of a spinal cord injury in a lawsuit is not a simple computation. This is where having professional legal representation, with the knowledge, confidence, and tenacity to guide you, makes all the difference.

An experienced attorney is your navigator, investigator, communicator, negotiator, and, most importantly, a staunch advocate. They delve into your unique circumstances, painstakingly review your medical records, and consult medical, vocational, and financial experts to build a strong, compelling case that accurately reflects your injury's worth.

Moreover, a seasoned lawyer can make a significant difference in correctly evaluating both economic and non-economic damages, ensuring that every cost—current and future—is accounted for clearly and thoroughly. Their skills to effectively negotiate with the opposing party or insurance companies can be decisive in securing a settlement that correctly mirrors your damages and adequately compensates for your suffering.

No matter how daunting the injury or the legal complexities, remember that the right legal representation can significantly impact the worth of your spinal cord injury in a lawsuit while simplifying your path towards justice. 

Get the Value You Deserve After a Spinal Cord Injury in Florida

A spinal cord injury may have changed the course of your life, but your journey doesn't end there; it merely takes a different route—one that involves pursuing the justice you deserve. 

At Blakeley Law Firm, we firmly believe that this journey is not one that you must travel alone. Compensation is not merely about money; it’s about empowerment, recognition of your struggle, and an affirmation that your life is valuable. To start exploring your legal options, contact our personal injury attorney today by calling 800-602-5000 for a free consultation with our team. 

Jarrett Blakeley

Firm founder Jarrett Blakeley fights to get maximum compensation for all of Blakeley Law Firm’s clients. He has been practicing law since 2006 and takes great pride in representing the rights of injured individuals against the insurance companies and the law firms that represent them. He has successfully represented thousands of clients and recovered tens of millions of dollars on their behalf. Mr. Blakeley strives to give all of his clients personal attention and maximum effort and seeks to instill a firm culture that prioritizes customer service and compassion for the injured over all else. Fighting for the injured is Jarrett Blakeley’s greatest passion and he looks forward to fighting for the injured for the rest of his career.

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