Spinal Cord Injury Spinal cord injuries occur when a traumatic event causes damage to the spinal cord, affecting nerve messages throughout the body. Stark & Stark’s spinal cord injury lawyers have years of experience representing those who have suffered various types of spinal cord injuries, including: Contusions The bruising of the spinal cord Compressions (caused by pressure to the spinal cord) Lacerations Tearing of nerve fibers Complete and incomplete severance of the spinal cord Stark & Stark’s personal injury attorneys work as a team with skilled professionals who know how to interact with individuals who are paralyzed, who have lost control of voluntary movements, who have suffered a loss or slowing of reflexes, including problems in breathing and control of bowel and bladder functions, and sexual dysfunction. The leading causes of spinal cord injuries are vehicular accidents, workplace accidents, diving accidents, electric shocks, bullet and stab wounds, falls, and sports injuries. Only 40% of the people who suffer paraplegia are able to return to work, and only 30% of quadriplegia victims resume normal duties. Stark & Stark’s spinal cord injury lawyers know how to advocate for people who have traumatic pain and suffering and have financial problems due to a spinal cord injury. Spinal Cord Injury Services The Stark & Stark Personal Injury attorneys will fight to recover all the benefits you deserve. As a result of our experience in representing clients in spinal cord injury matters, and through careful assessment and preparation, our personal injury lawyers help victim’s families obtain cash settlements for injury, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Sometimes these positive outcomes are achieved only by going to trial. However, in many cases our lawyers are able to obtain favorable settlements outside of the courtroom, making the experience less stressful for our clients. If your spinal cord has been injured, Stark & Stark’s spinal cord injury team will fight for your rights and will work with you to help you receive the justice and compensation you deserve. Frequently Asked Questions Here are some questions and answers to help you better understand what’s involved in spinal cord injury matters and important steps to follow to safeguard your safety and rights. Spinal Cord Injury What Should I Do If a Person I Know or Love Has a Spinal Cord Injury? If you or someone you know has been injured through the fault of another person, your personal injury lawyer will ask you to immediately obtain all records, witness statements and photographic evidence so that the issue of fault is immediately laid to rest. Your attorney must act promptly since memories fade, conditions change, and witnesses move. Without proof of fault you cannot support a claim for your injuries. In an automobile accident, in order to prove who was at fault for the accident, your attorney should also obtain all investigative records from the highway state patrol and any other police agency involved, including witness and investigating officer interviews. In more complicated cases, your lawyer may hire licensed engineers to reconstruct the collision, or civil engineers to evaluate the effect of the highway design, or mechanical engineers to evaluate any equipment malfunction. What Are the Typical Money Damage Injuries That Are Covered? Most people are entitled to be compensated for their losses if they were injured because of another party’s negligence or careless actions. While the justice system recognizes that money cannot undo the accident that caused your injury, it works hard to provide fair financial damages to compensate for the injury. There are six main categories of damages you may be entitled to: Property Damages – You are entitled to repair or replacement of any property damaged in an accident – for example, damage to your car, your clothes, your eyeglasses, or other personal property. Medical Expenses – You are entitled to costs incurred for health care, including ambulance bills, hospital bills and charges for surgical, medical or chiropractic care. Depending upon the type of insurance coverage you or the other party purchased, you may be entitled to payment of these bills regardless of who caused the accident. Future Medical Expenses – You are entitled to a sum of money that will enable you to pay for future medical care of injuries or disabilities caused by the accident. For example, you may be entitled to future surgical care or future in-home nursing care if you are disabled. Lost Income – Even if you are self-employed or work on commission, you are entitled to be paid for the income lost because of your injury. These damages are meant to cover lost wages from your job while in the hospital, lost income while recuperating and visiting the doctor, and for continued therapy visits after your return to work. Lost Future Earning Capacity – If you are partially or completely disabled from employment because of your spinal cord injury, you are entitled to a sum of money that will compensate you for the lost capacity to earn income in the future. General Damages for Pain and Suffering – You are entitled to be compensated in dollars for the pain, suffering, disfigurement, and disability you have experienced as a result of the injury. How Do Attorneys Decide How Much an Injury Claim Is Worth? To find a total claim value, an attorney will add up the amounts you are entitled to for property damage, medical expenses to date, future medical expenses, lost earnings to date, future lost earnings, and general damages for pain and suffering, and then compare it to similar claims. Since damages for pain and suffering are difficult to evaluate, a second method of assigning a monetary settlement value is used. Your attorney will then review state, regional, and national publications and computerized databases to find similar claims with similar injuries and similar liability patterns to develop a statistical analysis of your claim’s value. If you have been seriously injured through someone else’s fault, you should not attempt to estimate the value of your claim without professional assistance. How Does the Insurance Company Figure out What Is a Fair Claim? Like all businesses, insurance companies are in business to make a profit. Generally, the insurance company’s profit is the difference between what it collects in premiums and what it pays out in claims. Therefore, the insurance adjuster’s job is to settle your claim for as little as possible to maximize the company’s profit. Your lawyer’s job is to settle your claim for its maximum value. There are basically five steps an insurance adjuster must take in handling a personal injury claim: Collecting Information – Since the adjuster must collect information needed to understand your claim, your lawyer should provide all the required information to validate the claim to the adjuster and their company. Sometimes insurance adjusters are so busy looking for damaging information about you or your claim that they miss favorable information. Your attorney should collect and highlight that favorable information, such as witness statements, photographs of the collision and your injury, opinion letters from experts in medicine, and accident reconstruction or economic loss. When your attorney presents the claim to the adjuster, he is more likely to understand the significance of your claim. Setting Reserves – When a claim comes in, the company must set reserves, an accounting entry, to assure government regulators that the company has adequate money to pay the claim. If initial reserves are set too low, when the time comes to settle the claim, the adjuster will sometimes be too limited in the amount of money he can offer in settlement. Your attorney must get the appropriate information to the adjuster as soon as possible to assist the company in setting high enough reserves that the ultimate settlement can be for the full claim value. Evaluating Damages – Since the adjusters must evaluate the claim value, your attorney should provide them with all relevant information, including comparable cases from state, regional and national publications and computerized databases, and our own evaluation of the claim’s value to assist the adjuster in coming to a full and fair evaluation. Negotiating Settlement – Negotiating a settlement can be tricky. Often times a personal injury victim who attempts to negotiate a settlement with a professional insurance adjuster is likely to recover far less than the claim’s true value. We recommend the professional advice of a qualified attorney. Defending in Trial if Necessary – If a settlement cannot be negotiated, the insurance company must defend its position in court. To improve your chances for compensation at trial, your attorney must have a quality reputation, proven credentials, a fair but firm settlement posture that refuses to settle for less than a full claim value, and the ability and resources to prepare for an aggressive litigation of your claim. How Long Do I Have to File a Medical Claim? The statute of limitations requires that a claim be filed within a certain period of time after the accident or you will forever lose the right to do so. Do not delay in contacting an attorney.