How Spinal Cord Injuries are Evaluated in Personal Injury Claims
After suffering a spinal cord injury in an accident, you may find that it impacts every area of your life, from the leisure activities you can enjoy to your ability to work normally. If someone else’s negligence caused your accident, you may need to file a personal injury claim to help you seek compensation for those injuries. However, you may find yourself wondering how your specific injuries will impact the compensation you can claim as part of your personal injury claim.
Generally, personal injury claims include compensation for three basic elements: the medical expenses you faced as a result of your injuries–which, after spinal cord injuries, may be very expensive; the wages you lost when you could not return to work after your accident; and the pain and suffering you faced because of your injuries. In order to determine the full impact of your spinal cord injuries, including how they impact your life, the insurance company will typically evaluate your injuries.
Each spinal cord injury looks a little different. Even minor details of your injury and your recovery may impact how much compensation you can receive for those injuries. While your medical bills form the foundation of your personal injury claim, you will also want to seek compensation for the long-term impacts of your spinal cord injury on your life: the loss of independence, the loss of activities you once loved, or the loss of the freedom you once enjoyed to do things entirely on your own. How do insurance companies evaluate your spinal cord injury and your right to compensation? These elements all come into play.
1. How much do or will you heal over time?
Complete spinal cord injuries–injuries in which the spinal cord severs completely–are usually permanent. However, some victims with spinal cord injuries may show some improvement over time: gains in mobility that decrease the permanent impacts on many areas of their lives. If you suffer spinal cord injuries, the insurance company will work with your doctors to evaluate the permanence of those injuries and determine how they will impact the other areas of your life.
Generally, your doctors will not be able to fully predict how much you will recover until some time after your accident. In fact, it can take six months after your spinal cord injuries–and in some cases, even longer–before your doctor can fully predict what your recovery will look like and how much mobility you will regain. Your attorney may recommend waiting until you have reached that point before you officially file your personal injury claim, though you should, of course, start working with an attorney as soon after your accident as possible.
2. How much were you disabled by your spinal cord injuries?
Spinal cord injuries, as a rule, result in a significant loss of mobility and function below the site of the injury. However, they can cause a range of disabilities, from full paralysis below the site of the injury to minor loss of function, depending on the extent of the injury and how it impacts your body. Disability from a spinal cord injury may include:
- Paraplegia, or paralysis of the legs. Paraplegia usually occurs when the spinal cord injury occurs around the waist.
- Quadriplegia, or paralysis of both legs and arms. Quadriplegia usually occurs when the spinal cord injury occurs higher on the spine. Quadriplegia is sometimes also called tetraplegia.
In some cases, the spinal cord injury may primarily impact one side of the body, while in others, you may find that it impacts both sides nearly equally. The more your spinal cord injury impacts your body, the more it may prevent you from doing the things you would normally do–and the more disability you may suffer.
3. Does your spinal cord injury negatively impact your overall life expectancy?
Severe spinal cord injuries do more than just cause immediate disability and challenges that you must overcome. In some cases, they may also cause widespread health problems that can shorten the length of your life. For example, spinal cord injury can also decrease organ function below the site of the injury which, over time, can lead to organ failure. Sometimes, your doctor may report that your spinal cord injuries can decrease your overall life expectancy due to the challenges you face over time.
4. Did you suffer infections or complications that extend the length of your recovery?
Recovering from a spinal cord injury and getting released from the hospital is not as simple as learning how to cope with a wheelchair or the loss of the mobility and independence you once had. As you recover, you may suffer a variety of complications, from immediate infections to long-term complications that can cause increased disability. Infections and complications cannot be predicted ahead of time. They can, however, cause immense, long-term suffering that may add to the difficulties you face because of your spinal cord injuries. If you suffered complications in your recovery, it may increase the medical costs associated with your injury and, therefore, the compensation you deserve.
5. How did your spinal cord injury impact you mentally and emotionally?
Spinal cord injuries may permanently change the course of your life. They can prevent you from engaging in the activities that you once enjoyed or make it very difficult for you to care for yourself. Many people, after suffering spinal cord injuries, face immense mental anguish and emotional turmoil along with the physical effects of their injuries. Talk to your attorney about how your spinal cord injury has impacted you mentally and emotionally and how much compensation you should expect for that impact. Pain and suffering usually does not have a direct financial impact. It does, however, have an ongoing impact on your life, especially if your suffering includes direct diagnoses like depression or anxiety. An attorney can help you go over how that impacts your claim.
Did you suffer spinal cord injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence? Gina Corena & Associates can help you determine how much compensation you might deserve. Contact us today at 702-680-1111 for a free consultation.