You may be able to file a lawsuit against the person who caused your spinal cord injury. Although every case is different, many spinal cord injuries leave lasting effects on a person’s life. In fact, your life might never be the same after one of these devastating injuries.
To hold the person whose negligence resulted in your spinal cord injury responsible for your losses, we must prove all four elements of legal liability.
The Four Factors of Liability for Negligence
Duty of care. We must show that the party that harmed you owed you a duty of care under the law. Let’s say that you were riding your bicycle in the bike lane when a car hit you. All people driving on the roads have a duty to operate their vehicles cautiously, maintain a proper lookout, and follow the rules of the road.
Breach of duty (negligence). The driver of the car was on her way home from working a double shift as a nurse at the hospital. She was drowsy and did not realize that she had drifted into the bike lane. Driving while drowsy violates the duty to operate your vehicle cautiously and keep a careful lookout. A breach of one’s duty of care is negligence.
Causation of injury. The negligence must be the cause of the injury. If your spinal cord injury was the result of the person’s drowsy driving, then the facts satisfy the causation factor of liability.
On the other hand, if someone else’s negligence caused your harm, then you must pursue a claim against that person. Merely being negligent is not enough, by itself, to subject a person to liability.
Damages. If you were lucky enough to experience a “near miss” instead of a spinal cord injury, the drowsy driver will not be liable. Being frightened but not physically injured does not give rise to a personal injury lawsuit.
Damages for a Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit
You can get the same types of damages for a spinal cord injury that you can collect in any other personal injury lawsuit. The law usually categorizes personal injury damages as either economic or non-economic.
Economic damages are out-of-pocket or other financial losses. You can measure these monetary items in dollars by adding up your medical bills, invoices, receipts, and other documentation. Your economic losses can include:
Medical expenses for spinal cord injury: medically necessary and reasonable costs of the ambulance, emergency room, hospital, surgery, physicians, prescription medications, diagnostic tests, physical therapy, and spinal cord injury rehabilitation center.
Long-term care: for people whose spinal cord injury causes them to need daily assistance with personal care and medical treatments.
Specialized equipment and modifications: for things like necessary home modifications, an adapted vehicle, wheelchairs, and respiratory equipment.
Lost wages: to compensate you for income you did not receive because of the accident, hospitalization, and recuperation.
Decreased earning potential: in the event that you cannot earn as much income as you used to because of the spinal cord injury.
After we total your economic losses, we will calculate a fair amount of compensation for your non-economic damages as well, like:
- Physical pain
- Mental distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Your spouse’s loss of consortium
How Your Negligence Can Affect Your Compensation
Often more than one person made a mistake that led to an injury. If you were partly at fault in the accident that caused your spinal cord injury, you can still recover compensation. Georgia’s rule of comparative negligence will subtract part of your compensation to represent your percentage of the total fault.
How to Get Help with Your Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit
At the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, PC, we help people whose spinal cord injuries have impacted their lives. We will meet with you and evaluate your right to compensation. Just call us at 404-474-0804 to get a free consultation and secure help from a personal injury lawyer.