How to Calculate the Value of a Spinal Cord Injury
If you suffered a spinal cord injury due to the fault of another person, you have a right to pursue them for compensation for your damages. A spinal cord injury may occur in any number of ways, but car accidents are the most common cause of severe spinal cord injuries.
Almost 18,000 people in the United States suffer traumatic spinal cord injuries each year—many with permanent consequences. The seriousness of a spinal cord injury cannot be understated. These injuries do not just affect back movement and flexibility but also control over one’s entire body.
A personal injury attorney, such as those at Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover, P.C. can assist those suffering from these injuries to recover spinal cord compensation payouts that help you get life back on track. Contact us today.
What Factors Affect an Average Settlement for a Spinal Cord Injury?
Various factors affect spinal injury compensation awards and settlements, including the severity of the injuries, the amount of medical expenses, lost income, and the need for future care.
Severity of Injury
A spinal cord injury may result in catastrophic long-term consequences including paraplegia or quadriplegia.
Paraplegia describes injuries that cause below-the-waist paralysis, whereas the upper extremities retain complete function.
Quadriplegia is a spinal injury that includes much more extensive paralysis. Those suffering from quadriplegia lose the ability to move or feel from the neck down. Most quadriplegics require assisted care for all activities for every day of their life. Health issues include difficulty breathing independently and assistance with bowel and bladder function.
Spinal cord injuries that completely block the brain’s ability to communicate with the rest of the body result in larger settlement awards than spinal cord injuries that heal.
A spinal cord injury almost always requires a substantial period of recovery. During this time, you may not have been able to work. A spinal cord injury may also result in an inability to work the same job you had before the accident. In some situations, spinal cord injury victims may be unable to work again. Your attorney considers these factors when determining a just settlement for your situation.
Cost of your Medical Expenses
Spinal cord injuries are some of the most expensive types of injuries requiring intensive medical and rehabilitative care. Insurance companies may try to offer a settlement that fails to take into account the lifelong expenses associated with your injury. Prior to accepting a spinal cord injury settlement, it’s always best to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. While the short-term promise of financial compensation may be hard to resist, it’s important to wait to determine the true cost of your injuries.
Strength of Your Evidence
A claim to recover spinal injury compensation payouts requires proving that the driver causing your injury was negligent. A negligence claim in the state of Colorado requires proof of four elements, including:
- The duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff;
- A breach of that duty;
- That the breach of duty caused the injury to the plaintiff; and
- The injury resulted in damages to the plaintiff.
You need strong evidence of all these elements to maximize your injury settlement or win a lawsuit in court.
Whether You Contributed to Your Injury
Colorado follows a modified comparative negligence law. This means that in personal injury cases, an injured party’s damages may be reduced by their percentage of fault for causing the accident. If the plaintiff’s fault is 50% or greater, the plaintiff gets nothing.
The insurance company will try to reduce the amount of your settlement by claiming that you contributed to your accident. An attorney can help you counter these arguments and fight for maximum compensation.
Insurance Liability Limits
As a practical matter, the amount of your settlement may be limited by the at-fault party’s insurance limits. If the insurance limits are greater than the damages you suffered, it’s likely you will be able to recover compensation for your injuries either through settlement or by filing a lawsuit.
If the person who caused your injuries does not have enough insurance or doesn’t have any significant assets, it will be difficult to collect full compensation for your injuries and damages. An experienced attorney can help you identify all at-fault parties and potential sources of recovery, which may include the assets of the at-fault party and your own uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance.
How to Calculate a Settlement for a Spinal Cord Injury
After a car accident, you may be curious about what the average settlement for a spinal cord injury might be. Ultimately it’s a combination of the facts of the accident, your injuries, your economic losses, and your non-economic losses.
Settlement values can vary widely depending on the specific circumstances of your case. The best way to determine what your case is worth is to get a case evaluation from an experienced spinal cord injury attorney.
In Colorado, spinal injury compensation payouts include two types of damages: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Facts of the Accident and Liability:
The facts of the accident are important. A high-speed motor vehicle crash with no fault on your part will likely result in a higher value settlement, as would a clear liability ski accident or premises liability occurrence.
Severe and catastrophic injuries require maximum compensation and typically result in recovery of maximum value. Significant spinal cord injuries almost always involve intensive medical and rehabilitative care along with significant periods of lost work and potential loss of the ability to work – the economic damages portion of a claim, as well as pain, suffering, disability and disfigurement, the non-economic portion of a claim.
Economic damages provide compensation for all tangible financial losses suffered due to a car accident. These include the following:
- Past and future medical expenses,
- Past and future loss of income,
- Rehabilitation expenses,
- Diminished earning capacity, and
- Other out-of-pocket expenses.
To prove economic damages, retain all receipts and records of payments related to your injury. Past pay stubs and income tax returns support a claim for loss of income and diminished earning capacity based on your injuries.
Non-economic damages compensate a victim for damages and losses suffered due to their accident, including the following:
- Pain and suffering,
- Emotional stress,
- Mental anguish,
- Loss of enjoyment of life,
- Impairment of everyday lifestyle.
Non-economic damages also include the emotional trauma caused by physical impairment or disfigurement. Those suffering from spinal cord injuries generally experience these specific types of non-economic damages due to the severity and nature of the injury.
Colorado may also award punitive or “exemplary” damages if a jury finds that an at-fault party’s actions were fraudulent, malicious, or willful and wanton conduct. Punitive damages are not intended to compensate the victim but rather to punish the at-fault party for their actions, and a court must approve a request to seek punitive damages..
What Types of Accidents Cause Spinal Cord Injuries?
Many types of accidents can result in spinal cord injuries, including:
- Car accidents,
- Truck accidents,
- Bicycle accidents,
- Pedestrian accidents,
- Drunk driving accidents,
- Slip and fall accidents, and
- Skiing accidents.
If you suffered an injury in any one of these accidents or any other type of accident, we can help.
A spinal cord injury can change your life forever. If you need answers regarding a spinal cord injury settlement, contact Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover, P.C. with all of your questions. With over 100 years of combined legal experience dealing in personal injury cases, our team understands the hardship you face with a spinal cord injury. We carefully evaluate the factors involved in your accident to obtain full and fair compensation for your injuries.
You deserve a compassionate but aggressive legal team to represent your interests in such a difficult time. Our firm has received the highest rating for our ability and ethics from the nation’s leading attorney rating service. In over 30 years in practice, we have worked diligently to obtain more than one hundred million dollars in verdicts or settlements for our clients. Let us get to work for you to concentrate on recovering from your injuries.
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