Portland Spinal Cord Injury Attorney
At Mayor Law, a Portland spinal cord injury lawyer is acutely aware of the challenges and frustrations that often come with these types of injuries, and can help you hold the negligent party responsible for the harm they have caused. From recovery plans, cost of treatment, future costs of care, and impact to a family’s financial future, you need a specialized attorney who will leave no stone unturned and maximize the compensation you deserve.
Every part of the human body works together by way of the spinal cord. The spinal cord is part of the nervous system; the largest nerve in the body. If the spinal cord is damaged, the brain and body cannot adequately communicate about movement, sensations or involuntary activities of the body. This is why spinal cord injuries have such devastating and complex effects on the people who suffer from them.
Contact Portland spinal cord injury lawyer Travis Mayor to have your tough questions answered: (503) 610-0005. Consultations are always free. You pay nothing unless we win your case.
Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)
What is a spinal cord injury?
A spinal cord injury is damage to the spine and bundles of nerve fibers that make up the spinal cord. These nerve bundles play a key role in transmitting signals to and from the brain to the various extremities such as arms and legs. They are vital to controlling how the body moves and what it feels. Injuries higher on the spine, meaning closer to the brain, have a greater impact on the body and can result in paralysis of the body from the neck down. Injuries lower on the spine (farthest from the brain) may affect fewer external body parts, such as only the legs. Spinal cord injuries are classified as a “complete SCI” or “incomplete SCI”, meaning a total or partial loss of motor and sensory functions below the level of injury. Almost 50% of injuries are classified as complete SCI and result in total loss of motor control and feeling. In these injuries, the spinal cord is rarely cut, but the loss of motor control or paralysis is caused by a contusion (bruising) to the spinal cord or pressure from a physical injury to the spine.
Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
According to the CDC and other recent studies, over 1.2 million people are living with paralysis as a result of spinal cord injuries and will require sustained, constant care for the rest of their life. Motor vehicle crashes, industrial accidents, and sports-related injuries are responsible for two-thirds of these catastrophic injuries. Typical types of accidents that most frequently result in spinal cord injuries include:
- 28% from industrial accidents
- 24% from car accidents, 16% from sports / recreation accidents
- 9% from falling accidents
- 4% from violent personal assaults
- 19% from other causes
The spine is very complex and most susceptible to injury as a result of severe impact (such as a head-on car crash or fall) or abrupt movements (such as a side-impact car crash), or a combination of the two. A spinal cord injury can be caused by the impact of an accident or the subsequent movement of passengers within the vehicle. These injuries can lead to costly and very complex recovery plans.
SCI Patients Are at High Risk for Secondary Medical Complications
Spinal cord injuries are usually caused by a traumatic accident, and it is common for the injured person to suffer other trauma including chest, abdomen, and vital-organ injury. While progress in medical care and rehabilitation are continuing, there still is no “cure” for SCI. The main complications arising from these injuries include pneumonia, pressure ulcers, deep vein thrombosis, and can be found in two-thirds of the patients with complete paralysis. Anyone suffering from SCI must anticipate potential secondary complications that may not be obvious within the first few months after an accident.
Spinal Cord Injury Case Example
Case Example: Client in his 20’s was severely injured on the job when a piece of heavy equipment fell on him due to an operator error and a machine defect. His traumatic injuries resulted in complete paralysis from the waist down and permanent disability. A claim was brought against the manufacturer and owner of the defective machinery. After a lengthy battle, the case settled for a confidential amount, and included the client’s past and future medical expenses, additional medical needs such as a lifetime of wheelchairs, and lost income both past and future.
This case required extensive legal efforts to prove the defendants were negligent, and that their conduct directly caused injury to the client.
To minimize the amount of potential damages, the insurance company’s legal team attempted to establish that the client’s actions at the time of the accident contributed to some level of negligence. If this was true then any damages awarded would be reduced by the percentage amount that the client contributed to the cause of the accident. The insurance company’s legal team also attempted to minimize the damage amount by arguing that future medical expenses and lost income would not be as great as projected. In the end, the insurance company could see the strength of the client’s case and raised the offer to settle several times the initial amounts presented.
Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Compensation
Seeking compensation for back or spinal cord injuries is often a complicated and lengthy process requiring an experienced Portland spinal cord injury lawyer to establish the facts and prosecute the case. The cost of living with a spinal cord injury is something most people cannot define and completely underestimate. It takes more than simply filing a lawsuit and waiting for settlement offers to come in. The at-fault party’s insurance company will obtain aggressive legal representation and work hard to minimize the value of your injuries. They will claim you were fully or partially at fault or that your injuries are not as severe as you claim. It is important to seek legal representation from an experienced attorney who specializes in litigating catastrophic injury cases involving spinal cord injuries. Your Portland spinal cord injury lawyer must work hard on your case, have adequate financial resources, and be prepared to go to trial and win.
A seasoned Portland spinal cord injury attorney will help you determine potential future expenses to maximize your personal injury claim by analyzing the following areas:
- Present and future medical expenses
- Rehabilitation, physical therapy, occupational therapy
- Medications, medical devices, pain management
- Impairment, scarring, or disfigurement
- Therapy – psychological distress, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder
- Modifications to accommodate physical limitations such as wheelchair ramps and access, specialized beds, and personal care assistance
- Personal care and assistance
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages or income and impaired earning capacity
The compensation you may be legally entitled to receive in a spinal injury case is called “damages.” There are two categories of damages: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are costs that can be quantified such as medical expenses, lost wages and income, and property damage.
Non-economic damages are less quantifiable and more subjective harms. They include compensation for physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of dignity, interference with daily activities and loss of enjoyment of life. Because SCI injuries are very severe and can affect an individual’s quality of life, determining damages will be a complex matter requiring numerous experts including forensic accountants to project the lifetime costs for adequate and fair compensation. Typical cost projections for medical care and subsequent living expenses for various levels of injury are as follows:
These estimated costs do not even include compensation pain and suffering or lost earnings which substantially affect any potential injury settlement or jury verdict.
Spinal Cord Injury Frequently Asked Questions
Below are the most frequently asked questions regarding spinal cord injuries:
What are the treatment options for spinal cord injury?
Answer: In spite of the many medical advances in the treatment of spinal cord injury there is no current method of reversing damage to the spinal cord and regenerating nerve cells. Once the patient is stabilized and no longer in need of acute medical care, the rehabilitation process can focus on achieving specific outcomes such as maintenance and strengthening of existing muscle function, redeveloping fine motor skills and learning adaptive techniques to accomplish day-to-day tasks. There are no “quick fixes” that can restore the spine’s functionality, only professional rehabilitation programs which can help you learn to live independently. Because the success of any rehabilitation program is different for each individual, predicting current and future expenses needed to provide the best rehabilitation program is complex. This is where an experienced personal injury attorney can help you recover the financial resources needed to pay for the long-term care and medical treatments.
How can car accidents result in spinal cord injury?
Answer: The spine can be damaged in many ways other than a complete severing of the spinal cord. If you are involved in a car accident and experience a sudden forcible forward movement of the head, like an accident whiplash injury, this can result in a cervical spine injury. If you are involved in a car side impact crash, then the spine is susceptible to rotation forces creating a cervical or thoracic spine injury. Compression injuries occur from car accidents or falls where the impact force is transmitted through the head or base of the spine causing fragments to fracture into pieces and damage the spinal cord. Hyperextension injuries occur from falls or car accidents where the neck is forcibly extended in a backward direction and causes excessive stretching of the spinal column.
Where can I learn more about understanding liability and accident insurance coverage?
Answer: No settlement will be able to “undo the damage and suffering” caused by a spinal cord injury, but you can obtain a settlement that will help you financially recover from your injuries and assist with future medical, care, and living expenses. The settlement process is never a quick or simple negotiation. Insurance carriers and their lawyers are skilled and experienced in tactics designed to limit their liability and minimize their costs. They are good at representing the at-fault party and their shareholders. On your side are laws, the legal system, and your legal team, headed by an aggressive spinal cord injury attorney, with the focused objective of obtaining fair compensation from the at-fault party. By law every driver in Oregon is required to maintain the following types of insurance:
- Bodily injury and property damage liability
- Personal injury protection (PIP)
- Uninsured motorist
There are required minimum amounts, but most policy limits can be much higher. In addition, other insurance policies such as homeowners insurance, “umbrella policies”, business owner’s insurance and corporate liability policies may be used depending on specific circumstances of the accident. The best way to understand potential insurance coverage is to talk to a personal injury lawyer and review the facts of the case.
Do I need a Portland spinal cord injury lawyer to represent me or can I deal directly with the insurance company in an SCI case?
Answer: Dealing with spinal cord injuries is NOT a simple process. Because the stakes are very high with damages potentially in the millions of dollars, insurance companies place a high priority on aggressively representing the at-fault party. No insurance company is going to write a million dollar check without first pursuing every legal avenue available. Defense strategies and tactics typically include:
- Delay the process with the goal being to pressure or wear down the injured claimant and increase the cost of pursuing the settlement. Read more about insurance company delay tactics.
- Switch responsibility for the accident away from the defendant toward the injured claimant or some other person in an attempt to “share” responsibility for the accident and hence reduce any award or settlement by the percentage of fault – comparative fault.
- Minimize the damage amount by arguing the claimant’s injuries were not as severe or debilitating as claimed, or that future medical expenses and lost earnings are not as great as projected.
- Prey on simple mistakes that diminish the value of your case. To read more about these mistakes read “8 Mistakes Insurance Companies Are Hoping You Make!”
This type of case is not one that can be successfully resolved by dealing directly with the insurance adjustor. Our recommendation is to always speak with an experienced Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer in Portland to evaluate your specific case factors, your situation, and the appropriateness of retaining a lawyer. Remember, when you deal directly with an insurance company, you are dealing with a large, corporate entity, specifically staffed with lawyers and specialists trained in techniques to minimize the value of your claim. They utilize many techniques that are very effective in reducing the value of their offers to you. You can read about numerous examples of case results were settlement offers increased by a factor of ten or more when clients have an aggressive spinal cord injury lawyer representing them. Do not give up your only leverage in dealing with an insurance company; your right to legal representation and due process. We provide an initial free consultation and personal injury case evaluation for all potential clients and will give you an honest assessment of the case including a potential value and strategy to win your case.
Where can I find more SCI Resources?
For more medical information about spinal cord injuries, recovery options, and living with SCI visit these great resources.
Getting Results for Victims of Spinal Cord Injury
As a Portland Personal Injury Attorney, my goal is to help severely injured victims restore their lives. My firm can help you by reducing the hassles and inconvenience of your case while maximizing your financial compensation. Travis Mayor has recovered millions of dollars for his catastrophic injury clients.
Initial case evaluations are always free. Feel free to email or call (503) 444-2825 to discuss the cause of your injuries. If you are unsure whether your situation or case falls within our areas of practice, please contact us anyway. If your legal needs are in an area of law we do not ordinarily handle, we would be happy to recommend reputable attorneys who do so.