In a millisecond, a spinal cord injury can change one’s life. In severe cases, spinal cord injuries require long-term care, daily assistance performing routine activities, and permanent disability.
Spinal cord injuries are the result of damage to the spinal column, which consists of 31 vertebrae. Within the spinal column is a central bundle of nerves, known as the spinal cord, which is responsible for transmitting signals between the brain and the rest of the body. Damage to the spinal column, such as trauma during a car accident, can affect the spinal cord and disrupt the body’s ability to communicate with the brain. Nearly 300,000 people currently live in the U.S. live with spinal cord injuries.
If someone else’s negligence or recklessness leads to a spinal cord injury, the injured person could have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. Nearly half of all spinal cord injuries are caused by motor vehicle accidents. Falls cause another 22 percent of spinal cord injuries, with sports-related injuries causing approximately 12 percent.
Other potentially actionable causes include:
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Construction accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products
- Swimming pool accidents
- Unsafe building conditions
Spinal cord injuries are generally more serious than other injuries because, unlike other parts of the body, the spinal cord cannot repair itself. Currently, less than 1 percent of spinal cord injury victims experience complete neurological recovery before being discharged from the hospital.
The need for rehabilitation, assistive devices, and long-term care make it particularly important to recover damages in a personal injury suit. Without that compensation, the patient and his or her family would to shoulder an enormous financial burden, likely for many years to come.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that spinal cord injuries cost between $15,000 and $30,000 per person every single year. The year of the injury is typically most expensive, averaging $218,000 for incomplete motor function and $741,000 for high tetraplegia. Depending on the severity of the injury, spinal cord injuries can cost between $500,000 and $5 million over a lifetime. The annual healthcare cost of all U.S. spinal cord injuries is estimated at $9.7 billion.
And what’s more, these costs do not even address the personal and psychological effects of a spinal cord injury. After a spinal cord injury, one is more likely to experience anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, or substance abuse.
Once you have decided that you have a case and would like to sue the negligent party, it is important to make an accurate estimate of the costs of the injury. (An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to help you with this.) Monetary awards in personal injury cases are split into two categories: compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate the injured for the monetary and emotional costs of the defendant’s negligence. Depending on your situation, these costs can include:
- All medical expenses related to the injury (including future long-term care, rehabilitation costs, hospitalization costs, and ambulatory care)
- Lost wages
- Decreased earning potential in the future
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
There are no limits on compensatory damages in the state of New Jersey. Therefore, as long as you can prove the amount of damages (and that the defendant’s conduct was the direct cause of those damages), you are eligible to recover them.
If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury due to someone else’s negligence, we can help. Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi have more than 80 years’ worth of experience fighting for compensation in and out of court. Call (201) 585-9111 to talk with one of our seasoned attorneys today.