Philadelphia Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers
Spinal cord injuries often lead to complex litigation due to the sheer overwhelming effects of these injuries. The damages, including the cost of medical care, lost wages, and ongoing pain and suffering must be claimed and proven, which often means using medical experts and turning to an attorney who has experience with spinal cord injury cases.
Our attorneys can help find all of the damages you can claim in your case, consult with experts, and provide an evidence-based calculation of how much your case is worth. We can also help you pursue claims through potentially difficult litigation against businesses and individuals.
For a free case review, reach out to the experienced spinal cord injury lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm today at (215) 709-6940.
How is Liability Determined after a Spinal Cord Injury in Pennsylvania?
Before you can get compensation for your injuries, you usually need to prove who was liable for the injuries in the first place. Insurance companies and courts need evidence of fault to hold someone liable and order them to pay the damages they owe you, and our spinal cord injury lawyers can collect the evidence and make the arguments you need to bring the court to the right conclusion on liability.
Types of Accidents
The actual evidence needed to prove liability will vary heavily from case to case, depending on how your injury happened. Most cases of traumatic spinal cord injury will occur in a car crash, while most others will happen in accidents involving falls or other auto accidents. Other common causes include injuries from workplace accidents, violence, and accidents on the field during sports, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Elements of a Spinal Cord Injury Case
The common thread that ties these cases together is that most of these injury cases will be based on a claim of negligence. That is, a claim that someone violated a legal duty that they owed you, and that that breach of duty caused your injuries and resulting damages (medical bills, pain and suffering, etc.). In cases involving violence or intentional acts, proving that the injuries were indeed intentional is required.
Applying this Framework
In cases like car accidents, you can typically hold another driver liable for causing the crash if they committed any traffic violations that led to the crash. Likewise, in an injury case involving a fall from heights or a slip and fall, the owner of the property where the accident occurred could be at fault if they failed to keep the premises safe for guests.
Accidents at work and accidents during sports often involve negligent supervision or faulty safety gear, which can link liability back to a supervisor or even the manufacturer who supplied faulty gear.
In any case, our lawyers can help you determine who was at fault and examine the facts to see how the elements of a negligence case are met in your particular situation.
How is Compensation Calculated after a Spinal Cord Injury in Pennsylvania?
Some of the most important questions that injury victims have after an accident deal with how much their case with be worth and whether the damages they claim will fully cover expenses like medical bills and other losses, such as lost income. In calculating damages, our spinal cord injury lawyers must take care to assess all areas of compensatory damages you could be entitled to, namely economic and non-economic damages. We must also look at any opportunities for punitive damages. All in all, the following areas of compensation will be important parts of the total calculation of damages in your spinal cord injury case:
Pain and Suffering
The term “pain and suffering” is applied broadly to all of the intangible harms you face from an injury. These are all a form of “non-economic” damages in that they cover harms that are not easily shown to have an economic or financial value like with medical bills or lost wages.
“Pain and suffering” includes some of the things we will discuss more in depth below, such as the impact of surgery and the effect paralysis has on your life. At a more basic level though, pain and suffering damages are paid to pay you back for the losses and harms you suffered that no one else can truly see or feel: your physical pain, the mental anguish of the accident, the emotional distress you face, and more.
With safety precautions in all parts of our lives, serious accidents that lead to serious injuries like spinal cord injuries tend to only happen in the face of serious negligence. Punitive damages, as the name suggests, are paid to punish the defendant rather than to reimburse you for harm. However, these damages are usually only ordered by a court in cases where the defendant’s actions went above and beyond normal “negligence.”
Typically, the defendant’s conduct must be “willful” or done with “wanton disregard” for the victim’s safety. Often, this standard is harder to prove and requires evidence that the defendant knew what they were doing was dangerous and did it anyway. This proof can often be satisfied in cases where the defendant’s conduct was part of a repeat pattern of reckless and wanton behavior, especially if they were previously sued for similar conduct.
Lifelong Costs of Dealing with Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord issues can affect people for many years – or even for the rest of their lives. Getting compensation for those ongoing expenses and future costs is important.
After years of rehabilitation, you could find your condition much improved, but the cost of rehab, physical therapy, and more can all be so expensive that there might be no way to afford them without having them included in your damages in your initial lawsuit. Working with an attorney who has an eye on the future costs of your injury is vital.
Weighing the Impact of Surgery, Paralysis, Disability, and More
Along with the costs of rehabilitation and physical therapy, a spinal cord injury will affect you and your life in many ways. Getting treatment can, itself, be an expensive cost – but it can also have other emotional and psychological impacts. It is impossible to tell whether a particular surgery will be successful or not until you undergo it – but that comes with stress, fear, discernment, and other intense emotions. If you have to undergo multiple procedures, that can also put repeat stress on you – all of which should be compensated as part of your injury claim.
In addition, the impact that potential paralysis and disability has on your life can come with anger, embarrassment, resentment, and a number of other emotional responses. Becoming paralyzed or facing a spinal cord injury is also a huge, traumatic event that will affect you in surprising ways. Having a disability like paralysis will also affect your day-to-day activities, your ability to get around, your ability to care and provide for yourself, and your ability to work. All of these issues should be accounted for when calculating your damages as well.
How to File a Lawsuit for a Spinal Cord Injury in Philadelphia
The process of filing an injury lawsuit for a spinal cord injury is the same as the process for filing any other injury case. The main difference comes in at the point of discussing damages, since the damages for a spinal cord injury are often worth significantly more than in other injury cases.
You begin filing your case by having your attorney prepare a complaint. This document details the specific facts of what happened to you and puts forth an argument as to why the defendant would be liable under this fact pattern. The defense will typically try to refute these facts and ask that the case be thrown out, but courts often cannot throw out your case unless there is something legally insufficient in your claim.
From there, the case will move through discovery – which is the stage where evidence is exchanged and depositions are taken – and, eventually, it will move on to trial. At any point in this process, your case could potentially be settled. However, it is important to have your attorney review any settlement offers, as many will be insufficient to cover your damages.
Differences Between Work-Related Spinal Cord Injuries and Personal Injury Lawsuits
If you suffered a spinal cord injury at work, then we may need to alter the way your case is handled. Workers in Pennsylvania are typically covered by Workers’ Compensation, which purports to be the “sole remedy” for workplace injuries. If you are covered by this insurance, then you might not be able to sue your employer directly for an accident they caused.
This means that if your employer was responsible for failing to provide safety gear, failing to properly train you, or failing to fire a negligent worker that caused your injuries, there might be no way to file a lawsuit against them for your spinal cord injury. There are a few exceptions however, such as for injury cases where the employer committed intentional acts or where the employer failed to actually carry insurance.
Independent contractors are not usually beholden to these rules and restrictions, allowing them to sue the parties that hired them for spinal cord injuries at work.
Additionally, lawsuits against third parties are not blocked under these rules. This means that a lawsuit can be filed openly against anyone other than your employer. That can include customers that might have caused your accident, negligent property owners, drivers, and many other parties. These lawsuits are also commonly filed against negligent manufacturers who might have produced a faulty or defective ladder, piece of machinery, safety apparatus, or other defective piece of equipment that ultimately led to your injuries.
Common Causes of Spinal Injuries
As mentioned, spinal cord injuries most commonly occur in car accidents, with the next leading causes including falls, work accidents, and sports injuries. Our attorneys should be able to help you file a lawsuit against the negligent parties in any of these situations.
For example, in car accident cases, our attorneys can help you sue not only the driver but any other parties involved in the crash. In trucking accidents and other crashes where the driver was a commercial driver, we can often extend the lawsuit to file against their employer as well.
Workplace accidents are often handled by filing your claim against a liable third party, as discussed above.
In many accidents involving falls, the danger that caused your accident will be the property owner’s responsibility. In other circumstances, our attorneys will be able to research what happened and determine what parties are liable.
Injuries during sports are often peculiar in that the events that led to your injury might have been voluntary. In some cases, there is simply no one to sue – but in accidents that happened because of negligent supervision, because of horseplay, or because of rules violations, our attorneys can help you determine who is at fault and hold them responsible.
How a Spinal Injury Lawyer Can Help You After Your Accident
Our attorneys can represent you and help take care of all of the aspects of filing, deadlines, and case management that come with a spinal cord injury lawsuit. We can also help you track and calculate damages, managing any of the records and paperwork you are able to obtain. Ultimately, it is vital to have an experienced attorney in your corner to help you understand what your case is worth and reject any settlement offers that might not pay enough to cover your damages.
Having an experienced attorney on your side means that they can put their experience to work for you. Additionally, having a legal professional step in and negotiate on your behalf can allow you to focus on what matters most: your recovery.
Call Our Philadelphia Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys Today
For a free review of your potential case, call our spinal cord injury lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940.