The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) estimates that there were about 270,000 people living with spinal cord injuries in 2012. Spinal cord injuries, or SCIs, are extremely serious injuries that have the potential to affect victims for the rest of their lives. Because of their severity and the potential permanent disabilities they can cause, victims are often entitled to significant financial compensation.
In fact, in many cases, the compensation a spinal cord injury victim receives is the only way that they can meet their ongoing medical needs and keep them and their families in the financial position they were in prior to the accident. For this reason, people who are affected by spinal cord injuries should always speak to an attorney regarding their legal options.
What is a Spinal Cord Injury?
An SCI involves physical trauma to the spinal cord, which is the bundle of nerves that runs from the brain down the spine and is responsible for allowing the brain to communicate with the rest of the body. Because of its function, any damage to the spinal cord can have a serious impact on bodily function below the site of the injury.
Spinal cord injuries can either be complete or incomplete. In a complete spinal cord injury, victims have no sensation or function below the site of injury, while in an incomplete spinal cord injury, some function and sensation are retained. With the current state of medicine, the prognosis of an incomplete spinal cord injury is significantly better than the prognosis of a complete spinal cord injury.
What Accidents Can Cause an SCI?
With an injury as serious as an SCI, one would assume that the accidents that caused them would be equally as serious. While it is certainly the case that serious accidents can cause spinal cord injuries, even seemingly minor accidents can cause them as well if a person hits his or her head, neck, or back in the “wrong” way.
Some examples of the kinds of accidents that have the potential to result in an SCI include the following:
- Slip and falls
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Construction site accidents
- Truck accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Recreational vehicle accidents
- Sports accidents
Can I Recover from a Spinal Cord Injury?
Whether or not you can recover for an SCI depends on whose fault it was. If you can establish that someone else’s negligence caused your accident, there is a very good chance that you will be able to recover compensation. In a South Carolina personal injury case, “negligence” refers to a person’s failure to act with the degree of care that would ordinarily be expected of a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances. As you may imagine, whether or not negligence existed in a particular case is very fact dependent.
Some examples of conduct leading to an accident that would likely be considered negligent by a court include the following:
- Driving faster than the posted speed limit;
- Failing to remedy a hazardous condition on your property that is open to the public;
- Selling sports equipment that you know or should know poses a serious risk of injury due to some defect;
- Distracted driving;
- Carelessly repairing a bicycle;
- Failing to post a sign indicating that there is no lifeguard on duty at your commercial establishment’s pool;
- Providing employees with substandard safety equipment.
All of these examples above have the potential to result in serious injuries, including an SCI. Whether negligence caused your accident is a complicated matter and many examples of negligence are not apparent to people who have not undergone significant legal training. For this reason, anyone that has sustained an SCI should have their case reviewed thoroughly by an experienced attorney.
Do I Need an Attorney to Recover Compensation?
If you have sustained a spinal cord injury, you may be wondering whether you need to retain an attorney to get the compensation to which you are entitled. In fact, you may have already been offered a settlement from the party responsible for your injury or his or her insurance company. While it is certainly legal for you to represent yourself and accept a settlement offer without speaking with an attorney, it is not a good idea to do so.
Determining the value of any injury is a difficult matter, and this is particularly true for spinal cord injuries. This is because the complications associated with a spinal cord injury can last for the rest of a person’s life and may prevent the individual from ever working again.
To illustrate this difference, consider a case in which a person breaks his leg in a car accident and cannot work for eight weeks. In this case, we can likely claim damages for his medical expenses, the property damage to his car, lost income for two months, and the physical and emotional pain and suffering that he experienced because of the injury.
On the other hand, with a spinal cord injury in which a person has become paralyzed, we must consider the victim’s ongoing medical care, income over the course of an entire career, loss of opportunity, and try and assign a financial value to most likely irreversible loss of bodily function. As you can imagine, in a spinal cord injury case, the stakes are much higher and the calculations much more complex. While even the victim with the broken leg should retain an attorney, it becomes all the more critical for spinal cord injury victims to have a lawyer that will advocate zealously for their interests.
Call a Myrtle Beach Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation
People who have sustained spinal cord injuries are often entitled to significant compensation. Our attorneys are dedicated to representing the legal rights of spinal cord injury victims and work tirelessly to ensure that each client we represent obtains the compensation to which they are entitled. In addition, we work with all of our personal injury clients on a contingency fee basis, which means that we do not get paid unless you do.