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West Palm Beach Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys
Spinal cord injuries are among the most costly injuries an individual in West Palm Beach can suffer. Patients miss work while receiving medical care and sometimes cannot return, especially if they suffer paralysis throughout their whole body.
Money cannot undo the harm or remove the obstacles a spinal cord injury victim faces, but it can serve as a source of funding for future medical care and living expenses associated with the injury.
If you have sustained a spinal cord injury because of another person’s negligence or recklessness somewhere in West Palm, Florida law permits you to seek compensation for damages and losses related to your injury.
The skilled West Palm Beach spinal cord injury lawyers at Shiner Law Group understands the challenges you face in the wake of a spinal cord injury, and we can guide you through this difficult time. Contact our West Palm Beach office today for your free case evaluation to discuss the events leading up to your spinal cord injury, the impact it has had on your life, and how we can help you.
Shiner Law Group’s Dedication to Seeking Justice
The experienced West Palm Beach spinal cord injury lawyers at Shiner Law Group understand the physical challenges, emotional trauma, and financial hardship that typically accompany spinal cord injuries.
We have assisted injured clients in seeking compensation for damages related to their injuries for more than two decades. The firm’s commitment to seeking justice and providing exceptional client service has led to the recovery of millions of dollars in damages from settlements and jury verdicts in favor of the plaintiff.
Although compensation does not turn back the clock, it does help provide a lifetime of care, which many spinal cord injury victims need. We cannot promise specific results for your spinal cord injury case, but the skilled legal team at Shiner Law Group has the resources and desire to diligently pursue the best financial outcome possible for your circumstances.
Traffic Accidents Cause Most Spinal Cord Injuries
People suffer spinal cord injuries (SCI) for rare reasons and unknown causes; however, most can point to a specific event that led to their spinal cord injury. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), four events are responsible for more than 90 percent of all spinal cord injuries.
- Traffic collisions cause 40.4 percent of spinal cord injuries across the United States. They are the number one cause of an SCI for people under age 65. Traffic accidents that occur when vehicles are traveling at high speed have massive force when vehicles collide, causing various severe injuries. If a driver or occupant suffers a spinal cord injury in a high-speed crash, they have a higher chance of facing permanent spinal cord damage and paralysis.
- Unintentional falls cause 27.9 percent of spinal cord injuries across the nation, making them the second leading cause of spinal cord injuries. However, falls are the number one cause of spinal cord injuries for older adults over the age of 65. The elderly are more vulnerable to falls and might experience one in various locations. Stairways, parking lots, driveways, storefronts, and businesses that do not maintain a safe environment are all sources of falls for the elderly and others.
- Violence between people is another common cause of spinal cord injuries, causing 15 percent of spinal cord injuries across the United States. Gunshot wounds are the most common violent injury that leads to a spinal cord injury, but knives and other dangerous weapons that people fight with can also lead to a spinal cord injury.
- Sports participation causes eight percent of spinal cord injuries across the nation. Tweens and teens are especially vulnerable when they play full-contact sports or extreme sports. Boxing, football, hockey, and martial arts can lead to spinal cord injuries in certain circumstances. Children and adults can also suffer spinal cord injuries from skiing, snowboarding, mountain-climbing, and skydiving.
Specific Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
Many people think of their spinal cord as one thick nerve that runs down their body, especially if they do not work in the medical field. However, the spinal cord looks more like a cable or electric extension cord. The spinal cord consists of many smaller nerves that make up the entire cord like a cable with multiple wires or cables inside. The spinal cord is one of the main components of the body’s central nervous system, along with the brain and 31 branches of nerves that carry signals throughout the body.
A spinal cord injury disrupts or blocks messages from the brain to different areas of the body, causing different types and levels of functional loss. It’s rare that an individual completely severs their spinal cord in a car crash or other event. Most spinal cord injuries occur after someone suffers an injury to their spine. Accidents and other trauma to the spine can break off pieces of vertebrae and cartilage in the spine, some of which get lodged into the spinal cord.
Specific injuries that damage a person’s spinal cord result in temporary or permanent loss of function.
- Compression fractures along the spinal column
- Ruptured and herniated discs
- Nerve damage along the spine
- Severed or partially severed spinal cord
Spinal Cord Injury Victims Face Lifelong Struggles
According to The Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, over 250,000 people in the United States live with a spinal cord injury. Each year, over 11,000 people sustain spinal cord injuries that require hospitalization.
Many who suffer spinal cord injuries typically face some type of permanent damage that requires continuous care for the remainder of their lives. Some minor injuries do heal, and victims only suffer temporary function loss or paralysis.
However, even the most minor spinal cord injuries are dangerous because of the importance the cord plays in the central nervous system. Additionally, spinal cord cells do not regenerate on their own like other cells in the body.
The long-term complications and struggles a spinal cord injury victim faces vary greatly among individuals. Doctors separate spinal cord injuries into two broad categories to help diagnose patients and provide a long-term prognosis: complete and incomplete injuries.
Those who suffer from a complete spinal cord injury cannot tighten their anus and have no feeling in their anal area; those who suffer from an incomplete spinal cord injury have feeling in their anal area and can tighten their anus. Research shows that those with incomplete injuries have a greater chance of making a partial or full recovery.
Conversely, complete injuries indicate permanent damage that will not heal; it’s unlikely that SCI patients with complete injuries will regain any lost function.
The Location of a Spinal Cord Injury Determines Functional Loss
Doctors also separate spinal cord injuries based on their location along the spinal column. Each section of the spinal cord correlates with different body functions. Typically, the closer a spinal cord injury is to the brain, the greater the functional loss someone suffers. Injuries in the lower regions of the back cause less functional loss.
The potential long-term effects of a spinal cord injury in each region of the spine include:
Eight vertebrae protect the cervical region of the spine, which refers to the neck. The cervical region of the spinal cord controls signals from the brain to the diaphragm and upper extremities.
Spinal cord injuries in the neck are the most dangerous and most likely catastrophic, preventing victims from returning to work. Some spinal cord patients with injuries in the cervical region suffer from tetraplegia, which is total body paralysis from the neck down. Other long-term issues related to cervical spinal cord injuries are breathing and loss of movement in all extremities. Some need a machine to breathe.
The middle and upper back comprises the thoracic region of the spine. Injuries in the thoracic region result in less functional loss than those in the cervical region of the spine. In this area, the spinal cord transfers messages from the brain to areas of the arms and the trunk of the body.
People who suffer a thoracic spinal cord injury face reduced movement and function in their torso because the injury impacts the way their stomach muscles function. For many, a thoracic spinal cord injury also means wheelchair confinement for life.
Lumbar and Sacral Regions
The lumbar and sacral areas of the spinal column begin in the middle of the back and extend to the tailbone. Lumbar and sacral spinal cord injuries typically are not as severe. Victims often face permanent damage, but many can still function.
Lumbar spinal cord injuries impact the functioning of the hips, legs, and feet. Injuries at the top of the lumbar region might even cause paralysis below the waist. Sacral spinal cord injuries are the least severe. They typically do not cause paralysis. Even with permanent damage, spinal cord injury victims can go on with a fairly normal life.
Seeking Damages for a Spinal Cord Injury
Medical treatment costs for spinal cord injuries are astronomical. Victims have massive medical expenses because they need to be hospitalized for weeks or months. During their stay, victims cannot work, and some can never work again.
The economic hardship some families suffer in the aftermath of a spinal cord injury can lead to foreclosure, eviction, bankruptcy, vehicle repossession, massive credit card debt, and struggles paying for monthly utilities, food, and other necessities.
If you take legal action against the person or party responsible for your spinal cord injury, you could receive compensation for injury-related losses if you settle with an insurance company, or a jury rules in your favor.
Damages included in a West Palm Beach spinal cord injury lawsuit vary.
They could include compensation for:
- Medical expenses including ambulance service, emergency room treatment, doctor visits, hospitalization, diagnostic scans, surgery, and medication
- Estimated future medical costs, including ongoing treatment for permanent spinal cord damage
- Long-term healthcare cost for spinal cord injury victims that need full-time nursing care in a facility
- Rehabilitation costs including continuous physical therapy to avoid muscle atrophy, occupational therapy to help victims learn new ways to get through their daily routine, and mental health services to help victims cope with the emotional trauma of their injury
- Assistive devices such as wheelchairs, walkers, and canes
- Assistive technology to help spinal cord injury victims with communication, pain, and other complications
- Lost wages for missing work in the case of a minor spinal cord injury
- Lost earning capacity when a catastrophic spinal cord injury prevents someone from returning to work or seeking gainful employment in the future
- Home modification costs to make a house more accessible for a spinal cord injury victim by constructing a wheelchair ramp, widening doors, installing grab bars, and/or building a living space on the main floor
- Replacement service costs for tasks a spinal injury victim did before their injury, like lawn mowing, pool maintenance, cleaning, shopping, and driving
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of consortium
- Punitive damages when a spinal cord injury occurs from willful harm or extreme negligence
Your West Palm Beach spinal cord injury lawyer can review the facts of your claim and advise you on which damages apply to your case.
West Palm Beach Spinal Cord Injury FAQs
If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury (SCI) in West Palm, you have a long road ahead. SCIs are serious injuries that more often than not lead to permanent disabilities. Fortunately, Florida law permits you to seek compensation for damages to offset some or all of the costly medical treatment and other expenses that come with a spinal cord injury. However, you might be overwhelmed or uncertain about what to do next.
It’s in your best interest to contact an experienced West Palm Beach spinal cord injury lawyer to learn about your legal options for recovering damages. Until you have the opportunity to meet with an attorney, ask questions, and determine the best course of action for your situation, the answers to the following frequently asked questions about spinal cord injuries in West Palm Beach provide some preliminary information.
How Long After My Spinal Cord Injury Do I Have to Bring a Lawsuit?
Under Florida law, you typically have four years to file a lawsuit from the date of the spinal cord injury. Meeting this deadline is key to having an opportunity to receive compensation for losses related to your spinal cord injuries. Although the law provides some rare exceptions, it is doubtful a Florida court will hear your case beyond the four-year statute of limitations period.
Some scenarios that have different statutes of limitations to bring a spinal cord injury lawsuit include:
- Medical malpractice. If your spinal cord injury occurred due to medical malpractice, you have two years to bring a malpractice lawsuit under Florida law. The time clock begins from the moment you discover your spinal cord injury. Children who have not yet turned eight years old are not subject to the statute of limitations for medical malpractice.
- Claim against a government entity. If you suffered a spinal cord injury due to the negligence of West Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, or the State of Florida, you have the right to bring a claim against the appropriate government entity. However, you must give notice of your claim within three years of the date of injury and wait 180 days after giving notice before you file a claim.
Regardless of the exact statute of limitations that applies to your situation, it’s in your best interest to consult with a West Palm Beach Spinal cord injury lawyer as soon as possible.
As time goes by, you risk that the quality of your evidence will diminish, especially eyewitness statements. Witnesses sometimes struggle with memory, and the details of an event get foggy. Other times, witnesses die or move away, so they cannot provide testimony for a deposition if your case goes to trial.
As soon as you consult with a lawyer, he or she can begin investigating your case and gathering evidence to support your claim, even if you wait some time before filing a lawsuit.
How Do I Prove Liability After a Spinal Cord Injury?
As discussed above, most spinal cord injuries occur during traffic accidents, but an individual can sustain a spinal cord injury in many ways. For an individual, business, or another entity to be financially liable for your spinal cord injuries and associated costs, you must prove they were negligent.
Broadly speaking, negligence has four main components you must prove. Here is an overview of each element in light of how it relates to a West Palm Beach spinal injury claim:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care, which refers to how most people would have acted in a similar situation to the one that led to your spinal cord injury. For example, motorists have a duty of care towards others on the road to follow traffic laws and drive safely.
- The defendant breached their duty. A breach of duty refers to behaviors that go against the obliged duty of care. For example, if you suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident that occurred at South Olive and Gardenia because a driver ignored a stoplight, the breach of duty occurred when the driver disobeyed traffic laws and ran the light.
- You suffered harm. You must have real damages. A spinal cord injury certainly qualifies as harm. Additionally, the economic losses and non-economic losses related to the injury qualify as damages.
- The other party’s breach of duty led to your spinal cord injury. For example, the driver who ran the stoplight caused an accident, and that accident led to your spinal cord injury.
If you prove these elements of negligence, you have a great chance of prevailing in your West Palm Beach spinal cord injury claim.
Can I Sue My Employer if I Suffered a Spinal Cord Injury at My Workplace?
In the vast majority of cases, you cannot sue your employer for a workplace injury. Florida, in compliance with federal law, requires employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ comp pays medical expenses and disability benefits to injured workers regardless of fault, protecting employers from personal injury lawsuits for spinal cord injuries or other types of workplace injuries.
Your first step to receiving compensation after a spinal cord injury at your place of employment is to file a claim with your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provider.
Some situations might warrant a lawsuit against your employer, the insurance provider, or a third party after suffering a spinal cord injury on the job.
- Your employer does not carry the required workers’ compensation insurance.
- Your employer threatened to retaliate if you filed a workers’ comp claim.
- Your employer retaliated against you after you filed a workers’ comp claim.
- The insurance provider denied your workers’ comp claim.
- The insurance provider is acting in bad faith, dragging out your claim, not paying benefits, etc.
- You were injured on a worksite owned by another person or entity.
If any of the above applies to you, contact a West Palm Beach spinal cord injury lawyer as soon as possible to help you fight for the compensation you deserve.
How Much Compensation Can I Receive for My Spinal Cord Injury?
It’s impossible to predict the amount of money you might receive for your spinal cord injury. Each case is different, and many factors impact the value of a claim.
Many spinal cord injuries fall under the category of catastrophic injuries, which is an injury that prevents someone from returning to their job or seeking future employment. A catastrophic spinal cord injury is already a high-stakes claim that your lawyer and the insurance company will value higher than a non-catastrophic spinal cord injury.
Other factors that impact the financial outcome of your West Palm Beach spinal cord injury claim include:
- Liability. When liability and fault are clear, the value of a claim is typically higher. If liability is muddy, the amount of compensation a spinal cord injury victim receives is typically lower.
- Gross Negligence. If your spinal cord injury occurred because of intentional harm or someone’s egregious disregard for the law and safety of others, you might be eligible for punitive damages, which increases the value of your claim.
- Policy limits. You will likely need to file an insurance claim to recover damages for your spinal cord injury. The size of the insurance policy can limit the amount you might collect for your injuries.
- Total economic loss. The more medical bills, lost wages, and expenses you incur, the larger the value of your claim.
- Litigation. Accepting a settlement offer sometimes means accepting a lower amount than the value of your claim. If your case goes to trial, you will incur more attorney fees, but there is also a chance the jury will rule in your favor and award you the full amount of your claim.
The only non-flexible limit for compensation comes into play during medical malpractice cases. If your spinal cord injury occurred because of a medical error or negligence, you cannot receive more than $500,000 in non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and loss of consortium.
Your West Palm Beach spinal cord lawyer can evaluate your claim and offer a range of compensation you might receive. However, you have no guarantees. You will not know the exact amount of compensation you will receive until your spinal injury claim is resolved.
Should I Accept a Settlement Offer for My West Palm Beach Spinal Cord Injury?
Most personal injury cases settle before going to court. However, spinal cord injuries are more prone to go to trial because of their high value. If you receive a settlement offer from the insurance provider, it might be a sign that they are trying to pay you a lower amount to avoid paying a higher amount of court-awarded damages later on. It’s always best to let an attorney review the offer.
Once you accept a settlement offer from an insurance carrier, you also give up your right to seek additional compensation for your spinal cord injury. You, your doctor, and your lawyer must understand the full scope of your spinal cord injury and your chances for a full recovery.
If you face permanent injury, you will need additional compensation for continued treatment and care, especially if you have a catastrophic spinal injury that prevents you or your loved one from working.
How Long Will It Take to Resolve My West Palm Beach Spinal Cord Injury Claim?
The nature of spinal cord injuries makes them some of the longest claims to resolve. If your spinal cord injury is catastrophic, you can be sure the insurance carrier will fight that categorization to avoid paying lost future wages.
Everyone involved will want to wait until you have healed as much as possible, so they can accurately value your claim. Additionally, the defendant will want you to take time to heal, so you can go back to work and reduce the value of your claim.
It can take a year or more to learn the full extent of a spinal cord injury. Once lawyers begin settlement negotiations, your case might settle quickly. In other situations, negotiations fail, and spinal cord injury victims must go to trial. Litigation adds significant time to how long it takes to resolve a case. Lawyers need to prepare for trial, including a wide range of investigative and administrative tasks that add months to a claim.
Your West Palm Beach spinal cord injury attorney can review your case and provide a rough guess about how long it will take to resolve your claim.
Can I Afford to Hire a West Palm Beach Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer?
Yes, you can afford a spinal cord injury attorney. Do not let worries about the cost of legal counsel stop you from hiring a lawyer to advocate for you. Spinal cord injury claims can be complex. Letting a qualified attorney fight for you gives you the best chance of winning your case.
If you hire a spinal cord injury lawyer, you do not have to pay upfront for a retainer. Instead, you will enter a contingency agreement with the law firm, permitting them to deduct attorney fees and other costs of representation from any compensation you receive in a settlement or from a jury award on behalf of their efforts. If you do not win your case, you do not have to pay attorney fees.
How Can a West Palm Beach Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Help?
Spinal cord injuries devastate victims and their families. Seeking compensation for damages is sometimes the only way a victim can secure funds to pay for a lifetime of costly treatment after a permanent injury. Even spinal cord injury victims who make a full recovery face massive medical expenses and weeks or months of lost wages.
Spinal cord injury lawyers help their clients get the funding they need by supporting them in multiple ways, including:
- Investigating the event that led to a spinal cord injury
- Gathering relevant evidence
- Consulting with expert witnesses
- Communicating and negotiating with insurance companies
- Advocating for clients in the courtroom when settlement negotiations fail
If you have sustained a spinal cord injury in West Palm Beach, contact an experienced spinal cord injury attorney at Shiner Law Group today.
Get the Legal Help You Need from a West Palm Beach Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer
If you or someone you love has suffered a spinal cord injury because of someone else’s negligence, you deserve compensation. You should not have to face the economic consequences of a spinal cord injury when someone else caused it.
Shiner Law Group has experience advocating for spinal cord injury victims and understands the obstacles and challenges you face. We are here to help while you focus on rehabilitation and recovery.
Contact us today online or call our West Palm Beach office at (561) 777-7700 for a free case review. You can discuss the details of your case with one of our compassionate team members, and learn more about how we can assist you in recovering compensation for the losses you incurred because of your injury.
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