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Medical Malpractice

How Much Is a Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit Worth?

July 28, 2022

Results in spinal cord injury claims can vary significantly from case to case depending on how the injury occurred, the damage caused to the injury victim, and the medical prognosis for the victim’s recovery. There is no way to determine how much a spinal cord injury lawsuit is worth without considering all the facts in the case and the impact of the injury on the victim’s life.

Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries refer to those that result when there is damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal. The severity of an injury usually depends on where the injury occurs on the spinal cord and the amount of bodily damage they cause.

Most spinal cord injuries are caused by a sudden, traumatic blow to the vertebrae that damages surrounding tissue and spinal bones. The most common causes of spinal cord injuries include the following:

  • Falls from heights
  • Motor vehicle collisions
  • Sports injuries
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Surgical complications
  • Acts of violence

Minor cases usually result in changes in sensation, strength, and bodily functions. Severe cases may result in permanent damage including paralysis that affects the arms, hands, legs, trunk, and pelvic organs. Depending on the specifics of the injury, spinal cord injuries can result in medical conditions that have a life-long impact on the victim’s lifestyle, family, finances, and overall quality of life.Any injury that causes damage to the spinal cord can cause a variety of physical and neurological impairments. The spinal cord relays messages between the brain and the rest of the body. Such impairments occur because this type of trauma commonly affects this message transmission.

Evaluating Spinal Cord Injuries

To determine how much is a spinal cord injury lawsuit worth, a personal injury lawyer must look at whether the victim suffered a “complete injury” or an “incomplete injury.” A complete injury means that all feeling (sensory function) and all ability to control movement (motor function) are lost below the spinal cord injury.

An incomplete injury means that some sensory function or some motor function still exists below the spinal cord injury. In addition, there are varying degrees of incomplete injury that may impact the victim’s remaining abilities. With complete and incomplete injuries, medical professionals must perform a series of medical tests such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs. Such testing helps determine the severity of the victim’s spinal cord injuries, as well as the victim’s prognosis for medical care and recovery.

When a lawsuit is filed to recover damages for a spinal cord injury, the court and your spinal cord injury attorney will review the case to determine how much is a spinal cord injury lawsuit worth. Your case must be evaluated based on what caused your injury, the severity of your injury, and the medical reports showing diagnosis, treatments, and prognosis. Consideration will also be given to the impact that your injury has on your ability to work, your income, temporary or permanent disabilities, and the need for continued medical care including surgical procedures, home health care, and walking aids like a wheelchair, canes, and crutches.

How your injury occurs and who is responsible for the injury play a major role in injury settlements. Injuries caused by accidents such as falls, car accidents, sports injuries, medical procedures, and acts of violence may involve negligent actions on the part of another person that caused your injuries. Spinal cord injury cases that involve negligence are grounds for a lawsuit against the at-fault party or parties. Spinal cord injuries sustained due to another person’s negligence are entitled to fair compensation. The at-fault party or parties can be held liable for the following:

  • Medical expenses (current and future medical bills)
  • Rehabilitation and therapy (current and future expenses)
  • Lost income (current and future lost wages)
  • Temporary or permanent disability and/or disfigurement
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering (physical and mental)

If your spinal cord injury is caused by some type of medical treatment or surgical procedure and negligence played a role, you may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. A medical malpractice attorney will be able to gather important medical records, review medical treatments and surgical procedures, talk to expert medical witnesses, and work with insurance providers to obtain a fair settlement for your damages. When medical professionals and medical institutions cause injuries to their patients due to negligent actions, they can be held legally liable for the damages suffered by those patients.

If you are injured and choose to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in court, your attorney can explain how the court process works, what you should expect, and how long you have to sue for medical malpractice. All states have set time limits to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. In Illinois, a medical malpractice claim must be filed within two years from the date of an incident that caused the injury, or two years from the date which the patient should have reasonably discovered the injury that was caused by medical malpractice. It’s important to file your lawsuit within the state time limits, or the court is likely to deny your lawsuit.

How an Attorney Can Help Determine How Much a Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit Is Worth

It is possible to determine an average value for different types of spinal cord injury claims. However, values can vary significantly based on a number of factors. The average value of a spinal cord injury claim is just a statistic. An average may be helpful to establish a baseline to compare claims, but every injury is unique and affects every victim differently.

Discussing a spinal cord injury with an experienced attorney who has a good understanding of compensation for spinal cord claims and can help you determine how much is a spinal cord injury lawsuit worth. One claim may include a $4 million recovery for a car crash victim who suffered a fractured spinal cord, while another claim may include a $3.1 million recovery for a car crash victim who suffered a broken neck.

Any person who suffers a spinal cord injury can experience mild or severe symptoms. Minor injuries often include weakness in the arms and legs; decreased sensation in the arm and legs; severe pressure or pain in the neck or back; lumps along the spine; loss of bladder or bowel control; difficulty breathing; and blood clots. When a spinal cord injury results in severe injuries, the victim may require long-term medical care to reduce the risk of chronic health conditions, restore nerve function, and enhance the quality of life. Long-term complications may cause the inability to regulate blood pressure; the increased risk of heart and lung problems; paralysis in the arms and/or legs; and chronic, severe pain.

An attorney who handles cases resulting from spinal cord injuries, and who is familiar with the value given to different types of spinal cord injuries, can help you determine how much is a spinal cord injury lawsuit worth. For instance, herniated disc injuries can be quite painful, but they are often put into a middle tier in terms of value for spinal cord injuries. A soft-tissue back injury is often considered the least severe spinal injury, while a fracture is considered the most severe. Herniated discs are somewhere in the middle.

Whiplash and soft-tissue injuries can affect the spinal cord, causing severe pain and limited mobility in the neck and arms. The problem with these types of injuries is that there is no available test to show the severity of the damage. The severity of the injury is based on the patient’s ability to describe the pain and loss of function. Many insurance companies are suspicious of claims for whiplash, even arguing that the injury predates the accident in question.

Factors that Increase the Value of a Spinal Cord Claim

When a spinal cord injury occurs, permanent injuries are almost always going to be worth more than temporary injuries. This is due to several factors that include the following:

  • Duration of medical treatments
  • Invasiveness of medical treatments and procedures
  • Require surgical procedures
  • Length of recovery
  • Physical impairments
  • Impact on job opportunities and finances

The value of a spinal cord injury claim relies on many factors, including the severity of injuries, severity of pain caused by the injury, and the victim’s prognosis for recovery. Claims filed by older victims may be given less value than claims filed by younger victims. Because there are so many variables used to determine how much is a spinal cord injury lawsuit worth, it’s always best to talk to a lawyer before filing a claim.

When to Hire a Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer in Illinois

If you suffer a spinal cord injury in Illinois, your first step should be a consultation with a lawyer. Because these types of claims are complex, and damage awards can vary greatly, this is not the type of case to pursue without legal representation. You should consult a lawyer who has experience in spinal cord injury claims and schedule an initial consultation to discuss your case. Many Chicago lawyers who handle injury claims offer free consultations without any upfront costs.

If your injury was caused by a medical treatment or surgical procedure, you were likely required to sign a waiver prior to your treatment or procedure. In most cases, a patient must sign a waiver prior to a medical procedure which verifies that the patient is aware of the risks that come along with the medical procedure. By signing a liability waiver, the patient gives his/her informed consent for the procedure to be performed. Unfortunately, many patients, especially those experiencing severe symptoms and pain, don’t understand what they are signing.

In these types of situations, a lawyer is a valuable asset to a patient who wants to file a medical malpractice claim. Generally, a waiver protects a medical professional or hospital from lawsuits due to the risks and complications associated with a medical procedure. Under Illinois laws, an enforceable waiver of liability must have language that is clear, concise, and explicit. Even though a patient signed a waiver, this doesn’t mean that the patient understood the waiver or was adequately informed about what he/she was signing. When a patient is not properly informed about signing a waiver, a lawyer can file a medical malpractice lawsuit on the patient’s behalf.

Whether you suffer a spinal cord injury from a fall, a car crash, a sports injury, a medical procedure, or an act of violence, don’t wait to talk to a lawyer who can help you determine how much is a spinal cord injury lawsuit worth. All types of personal injury claims have statutory limitations for timelines on filing injury cases. In most cases, the time clock starts ticking when the injury occurs, or when the injury victim realizes that the injury exists, whichever comes first. In Illinois, most injury cases must be filed within two years of the date they knew or reasonably should have realized the injury existed. Waiting to hire a lawyer and file a claim can result in a denied claim by the court and a loss of significant monetary damages for your injury.

Every year in the United States, about 18,000 people suffer traumatic spinal cord injuries, many with permanent consequences. The seriousness of a spinal cord injury cannot be understated. These injuries don’t just effect back movements and flexibility, but they control a variety of body movements necessary for daily activities. If you suffer a spinal cord injury that’s caused by another person’s negligent actions, you have a legal right to pursue a claim for compensation. Don’t wait to file a claim with an Illinois injury lawyer who can help you collect economic and non-economic damages through a civil lawsuit or a fair insurance settlement.

About The Author

Photo of Jeffrey  Schulkin
Attorney Jeffrey Schulkin, partner of Goldberg & Schulkin Law Offices, has spent his entire professional career handling cases involving birth injury, medical malpractice, product liability and related accidents.