What to Know About Hiring a Spinal Cord Injury LawyerTrusted Content
Legally reviewed by:Erik Abrahamson, J.D. April 28, 2020
Spinal cord injury in Florida? This article will help you understand what to know before hiring a spinal cord injury lawyer.
Spinal cord injuries are some of the most severe injuries that can happen to your body. They can result in partial or total paralysis in some instances. When someone else’s negligence or intentional actions cause your injuries, you may have a valid personal injury claim.
Because of the serious nature of spinal cord injuries, it’s not recommended that you pursue a claim on your own. Instead, retain a proficient Florida spinal cord injury lawyer who understands how these cases work.
Why Is It Critical to Hire a Lawyer with Experience Handling Spinal Injury Cases?
At Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, we have over three decades of experience handling personal injury matters throughout Florida, including spinal cord injuries. We understand how complex these injuries are and have the experience required to build a strong case against the liable parties.
Not all lawyers have experience dealing with cases involving severe injuries to the spine. These are typically very complicated and expensive cases to build and bring to trial if necessary.
Additionally, your attorney must have the resources to advance fees and costs. For example, an attorney just starting their practice may not have the funds to hire the expert witnesses you’ll need.
A spinal cord injury case is about more than just seeking financial compensation from the negligent parties. It’s also about working on your recovery.
We want to make sure our clients receive the best treatment possible, while also fighting to pursue the maximum compensation they deserve.
What Are Some Examples of Spinal Injury Cases That Abrahamson & Uiterwyk Has Handled?
We have handled numerous spinal cord injury cases. Some have resolved through skillful negotiations during litigation, while other cases were resolved through a jury award. Two settlements in spinal injury cases we’ve handled include:
- $5,000,000 verdict for a client who became a quadriplegic after being struck by a large truck; and
- $750,000 for a 69-year-old client who was paralyzed after the defendant lost control of their vehicle.
Featured case result: $525,000.00 / T-Bone Accident / Spinal Injury / Citrus County, Florida
This unfortunate accident occurred while our client was traveling north on County Road 491 in Citrus County, Florida. The defendant driver was exiting a funeral home headed west. For unknown reasons, the defendant pulled out directly into our client’s path.
Our client veered left to try and avoid the collision, but the defendant kept moving west causing a T-bone impact with our client.
Our client was taken to Ocala Regional Medical Center with significant injuries. While at the hospital, she was diagnosed with broken ribs and a contused right lung. Shortly after the accident, she began to also experience pain in her neck, back and left knee and sought additional treatment.
She underwent multiple injections into her cervical and lumbar spine. Unfortunately, the pain continued and she came under the care of an orthopedic spine surgeon who eventually performed additional injections including a procedure for her lower back known as a radiofrequency ablation, which involves heating up the nerves that exit from the spine in order to relieve the pain.
This too failed to adequately relieve our client’s lower back pain. She eventually underwent the permanent implantation of a spinal cord stimulator to relieve her pain.
The insurance company hired counsel and fought the case hard. They argued that the injuries were pre-existing and not caused by the accident. Their initial offer was $40,000.00. We eventually persuaded them to engage in a mediation settlement conference where a neutral third-party mediator was hired to try to get the parties to agree to settle the claim.
After a lengthy multi-day negotiation, we were able to convince the insurance company to pay substantially more than they had previously offered. The case eventually settled several days after the mediation for $525,000.00. The settlement amount was over 10x their original offer. We were pleased to be able to get our client properly compensated for their injuries.
These are just two of the settlements and verdicts for spinal injury cases we’ve handled. It’s important to understand that every case is different. Your potential settlement value is dependent on the type of spinal injury you have, what level it’s at, and what your prognosis is.
How the Level and Type of Spinal Injury Impacts Your Case
When your attorney or medical professional refers to the level of your spinal cord injury, they are talking about where on your spine the injury occurred.
It is categorized by the region of the spine—cervical, thoracic, or lumbosacral. The level is then completed with the number of the particular vertebrae in that region like C1, T2, or L3.
You’ll find that spinal cord injury types are classified into two broad categories — complete or incomplete. A complete spinal cord injury means that the spinal cord is completely severed, and therefore there is no function below the injury.
An incomplete injury means that only a portion of the spinal cord is severed. Therefore, some functionality may exist below the injury site.
These are not the only way to classify a spinal cord injury, your injury could also involve spinal fusion, where two parts of the spine are surgically fused together. Your medical records will go more in depth and explain the specifics of your injury. They will refer to which part of the spine (front, middle, or back) was injured and your paralysis (quadriplegic, paraplegic, etc.).
This information has a significant impact on the value of your case. A complete C1 level spinal cord injury means the spinal cord at the first vertebrae in your neck was severed entirely and that you are paralyzed from the neck down.
An incomplete L5 level injury means the injury site is the 5th vertebrae in your lumbar region and that you have at least partial movement in your legs.
What Types of Accidents Most Commonly Cause Spinal Injuries?
Spinal cord injuries can occur in a wide variety of accidents. Any traumatic force, like a sudden blow to the spine, can cause spinal cord damage. Your spine may be fractured, dislocated, or compressed, which puts you at risk for a spinal cord injury. Not every bone fracture or trauma will result in permanent spinal cord damage.
Some of the most common causes include:
- Auto accidents,
- Slip and fall accidents,
- Medical malpractice,
- Workplace injuries,
- Swimming pool accidents, and
- Sporting event accidents.
Spinal cord injuries can also occur in victims of violent crimes. If a bullet or knife pierces the spinal column, the victim could be left paralyzed. Domestic violence victims are also at risk for spinal cord injuries during an attack.
What Damages Will a Spinal Injury Lawyer Help Me Pursue?
When you retain our experienced team of spinal cord injury attorneys, we will help you pursue compensation for all of the damages you incurred as a result of the accident.
Damages from many spinal cord injuries are more than the average person can afford. It’s not uncommon to rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses, especially if you are completely paralyzed.
Depending on the severity of your injury and the circumstances of your accident, your damages will vary. In most cases, you can pursue damages for:
- Current medical expenses;
- Future medical bills;
- Cost of rehabilitation and long-term care;
- Medical supply costs;
- Prescription medication;
- Your loss of earnings to date;
- Future lost wages;
- Loss of earning potential;
- Pain and suffering;
- Loss of ability to enjoy life
- Property damage to your vehicle; and
- An estimated loss of benefits like life insurance, pensions, etc.
With the most severe spinal injuries, you may have long-term facility care costs to consider as well as expensive medical equipment.
When you handle a claim on your own, it’s not uncommon to accidentally leave out certain expenses and costs in your demand. If you reach a settlement with the negligent party and sign a release, it means you can’t go back to ask for more money to cover additional expenses or future treatment. When you work with a spinal injury lawyer at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, we will help you pursue all the compensation you deserve.
Terminology: Important Terms Related to Spinal Injury Cases
When you read your medical records or hear medical professionals talk, you might be thinking a lot of the terminology sounds complex. It’s essential to learn what these abbreviations and words refer to when discussing spinal cord injuries. It can also help you make sense of what you’re reading or researching online.
ADL stands for activities of daily living. You will be monitored to see how you do with eating on your own or getting dressed.
Ambulation refers to your ability to walk with or without some assistance from aids like crutches or braces.
The front of the body is your anterior side.
Your dura mater is the outermost of three membranes that protect both the spinal cord and the brain.
Medications like corticosteroids are used to reduce swelling in your spine that could damage your spinal cord.
Surgery done to remove fluids pressing on your spinal cord is called a decompression laminectomy. Bones may be fused together, or hardware may be inserted in your vertebrae.
Dysphagia refers to problems with swallowing. It can occur when you have a cervical spinal cord injury.
With a myelogram, you will have dye injected into your spine that helps doctors more clearly see your spinal nerves.
The neurological level references the lowest segment of your spinal cord that still has normal motor and sensory function on both sides of the body.
When you have nerve pain, it’s referred to as neuropathic. It can almost feel like a slight electrical shock.
Paraplegia is the loss of motion or paralysis that typically affects both legs and the trunk. It doesn’t affect the arms. This is a sign that the injuries are limited to the thoracic and/or lumbar levels.
Your peripheral nerve tissue refers to nerves outside of the brain or spinal cord.
The posterior side of your body is the backside.
This term is also called quadriplegia and refers to paralysis, usually from the neck down. Tetraplegia indicates an injury in the neck region of the spinal cord. Depending on the severity of the injury, there may be partial or total paralysis in the arms and legs.
How Much Will It Cost to Hire a Spinal Injury Lawyer?
In most cases, you aren’t paying an hourly rate when you hire a Florida spinal cord injury lawyer. At Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, we have a no-fee guarantee.
What this means is that you don’t pay an up-front retainer for legal fees and expenses. Instead, we take a set percentage of your settlement if your case resolves to cover the fees and costs. You won’t pay anything unless we settle with the negligent parties or win your case at trial.
Spinal cord injury claims are very complex. You should not be handling the claim yourself, taking on the stress of negotiating with insurance companies. Let our capable legal team help.
We will not only help you pursue the compensation you deserve, but we will also assist you with getting a rehabilitative plan in place. Contact Abrahamson & Uiterwyk today to schedule an initial consultation.