- March 31, 2022
- Jed Strong
Nearly 18,000 people suffer catastrophic spinal cord injuries each year, and securing full, fair compensation often proves difficult. Upwards of 373,000 community members live with these debilitating conditions and long-term financial burdens that range into the millions. But too often, negligent people and corporations manage to evade financial responsibility. Rather than allowing callous parties to add insult to a devastating condition, it’s critical to enlist an experienced personal injury law firm and get the spinal injury compensation payout victims desperately need.
Facts About Spinal Cord Injuries
The number of people who suffer and live with spinal cord injuries increases each year. These debilitating injuries impact people regardless of race, gender, age, or socio-economic status. Men remain more likely to experience a spinal injury at a 78 to 22 percent ratio. African-Americans appear to get injured at a disproportional demographic rate, and the average age has ticked from 29 to 43 years old since the 1970s. That being said, no one is immune from these tragic injuries. A report tracking conditions from 2015 through 2020, released by the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), reflects the following.
- White Americans sustained spinal cord injuries at a rate of 58.1 percent.
- African-Americans suffered spinal cord injuries at a rate of 24.2 percent.
- Hispanic Americans endured spinal cord injuries at a rate of 13.3 percent.
The leading causes of spinal cord injuries remain relatively static year after year. Statistical information points to vehicular collisions accounting for 38.2 percent of such injuries, followed by hard impact falls at 32.3 percent. Deliberate violence (14.3 percent), sports (7.8 percent), and mistakes during surgical procedures (4.1 percent) were identified as leading causes. Only 3.3 percent of all spinal injuries occurred due to peripheral reasons.
How Much Compensation Will I Get for a Spinal Injury?
Compensation for a spinal cord injury largely depends on the severity and a wide range of relevant factors. Hospitalization stays rank among the most expensive initial costs, and injured people usually require 30 or more days before doctors release them. Following a hospitalization, rehabilitation, long-term care, and other costs add up quickly. The NSCISC outlines the differing costs among cases that involve severity ranging from High Tetraplegia, Low Tetraplegia, Paraplegia, and loss of motor function at any level. The organization estimates the first-year and lifetime costs based as follows:
- High Tetraplegia: $1,163,425 (first year), $202,032 (each following year), $5,162,152 (lifetime).
- Low Tetraplegia: $840,676 (first year), $123,938 (each following year), $3,771,791 (lifetime).
- Paraplegia: $567,011 (first year), $75,112 (each following year), $2,524,270 (lifetime).
Spinal cord injury victims who lose any degree of motor function can anticipate spending $379,698 on health care and rehabilitation during the first year. Once through the initial health care costs, comparatively minor spinal injuries task everyday people with paying $46,000 every year afterward. People living with spinal cord injuries have a 30 percent chance of re-hospitalization, with an average stay of 18 days. Secondary diseases to the urinary tract, skin, digestive, respiratory, and circulatory systems rank among the leading causes of hospitalizations.
It’s essential for spinal cord injury victims to understand that these expenses in no way, shape, or form help generate personal revenue. Many victims find themselves sidelined from work, and that puts a significant strain on the ability to pay for quality treatment, care, and rehabilitation services. Community members too often find the company coverage plan they possessed times out.
When calculating a spinal cord injury settlement or asking a jury for damages, the financial burden stands as a critical factor. Without the resources to pay for the best treatment possible, the extent of your recovery and quality of life may be significantly compromised.
How Does a Spinal Injury Compensation Payout Work?
Securing spinal injury compensation often proves an uphill and complicated legal battle. Negligent parties and insurance companies typically try to minimize their losses by avoiding responsibility. Oregon applies a comparative negligence procedure that allows careless parties to claim the victim was at fault. Deployed by opposing lawyers and big insurance corporations, comparative negligence can enable them to avoid paying the true amount spinal injury victims deserve. That’s why a determined personal injury lawyer with spinal cord injury lawsuit experience builds a compelling case that includes the following economic losses:
- total cost of present medical expenses
- anticipated cost of future medical expenses with inflation
- cost of rehabilitation, physical therapy, and occupational therapy
- handicapped modifications to home or residence
- cost of psychological therapy to deal with trauma and cognitive disorders
- anticipated price of prescription drugs and medical devices
- value associated with impairment and disfigurement
- lost wages and earning capacity.
Although the responsible parties will likely try to reduce the settlement or jury award by claiming the victim was at fault, an experienced personal injury lawyer knows how to push back. Another prong to improving spinal injury compensation involves non-economic damages.
How Do Non-Economic Damages Work in a Spinal Injury Lawsuit?
Unlike the hard numbers involving reimbursement for medical care, rehabilitation, and lost wages, non-economic damages are harder to quantify. These include compensation for pain, suffering, emotional distress, loss of companionship, and diminished quality of life, among others.
It’s important for spinal cord injury victims in Oregon to keep in mind that the courts do not necessarily limit non-economic and punitive damages. In 2020, the Oregon Supreme Court held in Busch v. McInnis Waste System, Inc., 366 Or. 628, that limits on non-economic damage awards were unfair.
“In 2020, the Oregon Supreme Court invalidated the state’s cap on non-economic damages, finding that while the Court ‘had no doubt that (the cap) was intended to reduce insurance costs and improve insurance availability,’ it nevertheless violated the state constitution’s remedy clause,” according to an American Medical Association report advocating for liability reform.
Presenting a compelling and persuasive case on a victim’s behalf remains the best way to recover quantitative economic losses and increase compensation through non-economic damages. It wouldn’t be right for someone to suffer from limited mobility and reduced quality of life while the person or company responsible walks away scot-free.
If you or a loved one suffered a spinal cord injury, it’s crucial to promptly contact an experienced spinal cord lawyer. Oregon places a two-year statute of limitation for filing personal injury lawsuits, and the clock began ticking at the time of the incident.
At Strong Law in Eugene, people ask: How much compensation will I get for a spinal injury? Our compassionate and determined team of legal professionals will hold the negligent parties responsible and get you the full, fair compensation you deserve. Call us today at 206-741-1053 or request a free consultation by filling out our online form.