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Spinal cord injuries are some of the most severe types of injuries a person can endure. Spinal cord injuries have been known to have a significant impact on victims’ lives. If you have suffered a severe spinal cord injury in Los Angeles caused by the negligent actions of another, you may have the right to financial compensation. 

A reputable Los Angeles spinal cord injury lawyer at West Coast Trial Lawyers could help you get the most out of your claim. Schedule your no-cost, risk-free consultation today when you contact our office to discuss the legal details of your case.

What to Do After Suffering a Spinal Cord Injury in Los Angeles 

After a spinal cord injury in Los Angeles, you may be feeling worried about what your next steps should be. It is more common than you might think to be unsure how to handle the aftermath of a spinal cord injury. 

With this in mind, here are the steps you should take immediately following a spinal cord injury accident in Los Angeles:

  • Contact 911
  • Obtain a medical evaluation
  • Document the accident scene, if possible
  • Obtain contact information of all involved parties
  • Contact a spinal cord injury lawyer for help

Once you have a spinal cord injury attorney on your side, you can find out more about what is next for your case. Generally, the liable party will be represented by some type of insurance provider. You will file a claim with their insurer to recover certain types and amounts of damages. 

If the liable party is not represented by an insurance company, or the insurance settlement does not adequately meet your means, you may need to be prepared to bring your case to court.

How to Compensate for Spinal Cord Injuries: File a Claim or Lawsuit

Spinal cord injuries can be caused by a variety of circumstances, such as car accidents and truck accidents, and almost always present a variety of complications. Just like the brain, the spinal cord cannot regrow new cells. Therefore, victims of spinal cord injuries are often left to deal with lifelong disabilities, including paralysis from the neck down (quadriplegia) or paralysis from the waist down (paraplegia). 

Spinal Cord Injury Symptoms

Spinal cord injuries can be caused by damage to any part of a person’s spinal cord or the nerves at the end of the spinal canal. These injuries are catastrophic and can easily cause permanent changes in strength, tactile sensation, and other crucial bodily functions.

The severity of spinal cord injury is referred to as ‘the completeness’ and can be classified as either complete or incomplete.

Complete spinal cord injury occurs when all feeling and all ability to control movement is lost below the spinal cord injury. Incomplete spinal cord injury occurs when some motor or sensory function is retained below the affected area.

Spinal cord injuries may result in one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of movement
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Spasms or exaggerated reflex activities
  • Difficulty breathing, coughing, or lung secretions
  • Pain or intense stinging caused by nerve damage
  • Changes in sexual functioning, sexual sensitivity, or fertility
  • Loss of/or alteration in the ability to feel heat, cold, and touch

Emergency signs and symptoms of a spinal cord injury:

  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Difficulty walking or maintaining balance
  • Difficulty breathing immediately after an injury
  • Extreme back pain or pressure in the neck, head, or back
  • Weakness, lack of coordination, or paralysis in any part of the body
  • Numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation in the hands, fingers, feet, or toes

Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

An injury to the spinal cord can vary significantly in symptoms and severity. Sometimes a spinal cord is severed completely or to the point that it completely cuts off all sensation to the nerves below that area of a victim’s body.

Typical spinal cord injuries include:

  • Sciatica 
  • Whiplash
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Herniated discs
  • Fractured coccyx
  • Rotator cuff tears
  • Fractured vertebrae
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Vertical compression fractures

Spinal cord injuries are particularly delicate because they can also affect other parts of the body. Depending on the location and severity of an injury, a victim may suffer loss of bladder and bowel control, sexual dysfunction, infertility, and paralysis.

Spinal cord injuries can easily lead to paralysis, depending on the severity. Paralysis is the loss of ability to move part or most of the body.

There are several types of paralysis:

  • Monoplegia – Affects one limb or region of the body.Paraplegia – Can be caused due to damage to the brain, spinal cord, or both. Paraplegics suffer with movement below the waist and can lose a significant amount of sensation.
  • Hemiplegia – Affects one side of the brain and can progressively get worse over time. If one sustains hemiplegia, the victim can completely lose control and/or sensation of one side of the body.
  • Diplegia – Paralysis that affects symmetrical parts of the body. A few examples of diplegia include both legs or both arms; however, it is possible for the severity on one side of the body to vary in comparison to the other.
  • Quadriplegia – Affects one’s brain or spinal cord, which results in the ability to receive or process signals for one to function. Believe it or not, many quadriplegics have healthy legs and arms; however, if they do not have the ability to send or receive signals, they lose muscle control or are extremely weak

Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries in Los Angeles

Under the worst of conditions, spinal cord injuries can occur in any number of ways. However, the majority of spinal cord injury insurance and civil claims occur in one or more of the following types of accidents:

  • Car accidents
  • Truck accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Bus accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Premises liability claims
  • Dog bites
  • Work injuries
  • Construction accidents
  • Defective product claims
  • Medical malpractice
  • Nursing home abuse

These are only a few of the more common types of accidents and incidents that have been known to produce spinal cord injuries in Los Angeles. If you were involved in another type of accident or incident that was not described above, you may still have the right to financial compensation. A spinal cord injury attorney in LA can help you review the details of your case and determine whether you have the opportunity to get justice for your suffering.

Proving liability in a Los Angeles spinal cord injury claim is critical. In fact, it may be one of the few ways you can recover total compensation for your damages. When pursuing a civil spinal cord injury claim, your lawyer will need to prove liability based on a preponderance of the evidence. 

The evidence presented in your case must clearly show that the defendant is more likely than not responsible for causing your accident or resulting injuries. With that in mind, there are many pieces of evidence that could be used to prove negligence in a spinal cord injury claim. Some of the more common pieces of evidence used include:

  • Medical records
  • Financial statements
  • Photos of your Injuries
  • Photos of the accident that caused your injuries
  • Video of the accident 
  • Cell phone records
  • Blood alcohol concentration test results
  • Forensic evidence
  • Police and crash reports
  • Safety inspection reports
  • Accident reconstructionist reports
  • Witness statements
  • Expert testimony

For the jury to return a verdict in your favor, your lawyer will need to show that the four elements of negligence have been met as follows:

  • Duty of care
  • Breach of duty
  • Causation
  • Damages

Here, your spinal cord injury lawyer will need to show that the defendant owed you a duty of care, breached that duty of care in some way, thereby causing you significant damages that have had a substantial impact on your life. 

Remember, much of the previously mentioned types of evidence may be time-sensitive, which means the sooner you get your attorney working on your case, the greater your opportunity to build a powerful claim against the liable party.

What to Expect From the Spinal Cord Injury Claims Process in Los Angeles

The spinal cord injury claims process can be intimidating. After all, after everything you have been through, bringing your case decor and dealing with a money-hungry insurance company may seem overwhelming. Fortunately, when you have an experienced Los Angeles spinal cord injury attorney advocating for your rights, you can feel confident in your decision to move forward with your claim. 

Every person’s spinal cord injury case can proceed differently depending on the individual details of your accident and injuries. However, generally, the claims process may go as follows:

  • You hire a spinal cord injury lawyer
  • Your attorney begins investigating the cause of the accident
  • Evidence is gathered to support your case
  • Liability is established
  • Your attorney prepares to file claims with the insurance company
  • Your lawyer steps in and handles the insurance settlement negotiation process
  • If the insurance settlement is not enough to meet your needs, your attorney will prepare your case for trial
  • At trial, your lawyer will advocate for maximum compensation for your damages

For some families, you may be able to avoid bringing your case to court by obtaining a sizable injury settlement through the insurance company. However, this may not always be possible, as insurance companies routinely only cover certain types and amounts of economic damages. 

Any additional economic damages, and your non-economic damages in their entirety may only be recovered should you bring your case to court. You can find out how to maximize your injury settlement when you contact your spinal cord injury attorney for help.

California Fault and Comparative Negligence Laws

Sharing fault for your spinal cord injuries is more common than you might think. Fortunately, under California law, sharing fault for your injuries will not prohibit you from recovering compensation. California follows a pure comparative negligence system. Here, sharing fault for causing the accident or your spinal cord injuries will not result in the dismissal of your case. 

Instead, your injury settlement will be reduced to account for your portion of culpability. With that in mind, let’s look at an example:

Susan was crossing the street when she was struck by a distracted driver. The judge found Susan 10% at fault for her injuries because she was using her cell phone while crossing the street. The jury awarded Susan $100,000 for her damages. However, because Susan was 10% at fault for her injuries, her injury settlement was reduced to $90,000.

Sharing even a small amount of liability can have a dramatic impact on the amount of compensation you are awarded. For this reason, you may need to retain a trusted legal advocate who will ensure that fault is correctly assessed in your spinal cord injury claim. That way, the insurance company, the defendant, and other liable parties cannot take advantage of you during your greatest time of need.

How Long Do You Have to File Your Los Angeles Spinal Cord Injury Claim?

When you are considering legal action against the liable party, it is important to take action on your case quickly. The statute of limitations for personal injury and spinal cord injury claims across California is just two years. Two years may seem like more than enough time to build a powerful case against the liable party. However, the sooner you get your attorney on your case, the more readily available time-sensitive evidence may be. 

It is important to get your claim filed before the statute of limitations for your spinal cord injury claim expires. If the statute of limitations passes and your lawsuit has not been filed, you will no longer have the opportunity to recover compensation through the Los Angeles civil court system. 

The exact date the statute of limitations will end in your case can vary wildly depending on the date of your injury diagnosis, the date of the accident, and a variety of other factors. Get the clarity and legal support you need to avoid issues with the statute of limitations when you get a Los Angeles spinal cord injury lawyer to take on your case.

What to Expect From the Insurance Company

Dealing with the insurance company is never easy. California is a fault state for car accidents and insurance purposes. This means when you are involved in an accident, you will need to file a claim with the liable party’s insurance provider. For example, if you were involved in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, you would file a claim with the drunk driver’s auto insurance provider. 

Sadly, insurance companies make obtaining the compensation you deserve far more challenging than it should be. Insurance companies lose money every time they payout on a claim. For this reason, they look for opportunities to reduce payouts and deny claims entirely. Some insurance adjusters have been known to ask claimants for statements, only to later manipulate their words to make it seem as though they have admitted fault or accepted responsibility for causing the accident in some way. 

Other insurance adjusters have been known to make lowball insurance offers quickly. This can tempt injury victims into accepting far less than they may otherwise be entitled to. Unscrupulous tactics aside, your spinal cord injury attorney will be well prepared to handle whatever the insurance company has up its sleeves. If the insurance company is unwilling to settle your claim reasonably, you will be able to have your attorney step in and handle the insurance negotiations on your behalf. This way, you can avoid being taken advantage of. 

It is also important to know that insurance companies are only required to pay out for certain types of damages and only up to the limits of the policyholder’s policy. For example, if the liable party carried $50,000 in bodily injury liability coverage, but your medical bills exceeded $100,000, the insurance company would only be required to cover up to $50,000. Any remaining medical expenses will need to be sought after in a civil spinal cord injury claim against the liable party.

Compensation for Spinal Cord Injury Victims in Los Angeles 

After a spinal cord injury, your entire life could be affected. Fortunately, if someone else is responsible for causing your injuries, they can be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law and compelled to cover your damages in their entirety. This will include economic and non-economic damages. 

Economic damages are financial, while non-economic damages are physical and emotional, and include every way your life has been affected by your spinal cord injury. Some of the different damages you could recover in your Los Angeles spinal cord injury claim include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Lost income
  • Loss of consortium
  • Diminished earning capacity
  • Medical equipment and expenses
  • Skin scarring and disfigurement
  • Loss of household services
  • Property damages

Meet With a Los Angeles Spinal Cord Injury Attorney for Help

When you have suffered a debilitating spinal cord injury and do not know how to make the liable party pay for their negligence, you need legal guidance and support you can count on. 

Reach out to a dedicated Los Angeles spinal cord injury lawyer at West Coast Trial Lawyers to find out what your next step should be. Schedule your no-cost, risk-free consultation today when you fill out our convenient contact form or give our office a call at 213-927-3700

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