Calculating Damages in Spinal Cord Injury Cases

Spinal cord injuries or SCIs are one of the most devastating types of personal injuries imaginable.  Often, a spinal cord injury will cause permanent paralysis or changes in mobility that leave the victim unable to work or even perform self-care tasks.  Estimating the future costs of spinal cord injury cases is not an easy task, and is usually best left to a personal injury attorney with experience in SCI cases.

What Are The Types of Spinal Cord Injuries?

There are four basic categories of spinal cord injuries:

  • Incomplete paraplegia. This term refers to the inability to move some of the muscles in the lower half of the body.  Depending on where the injury is on the spine, it can involve a few or many of the leg and groin muscle systems.
  • Complete paraplegia. This term refers to the complete loss of movement in the lower half of the body.
  • Incomplete tetraplegia. This term refers to the inability to move some of the muscles in both the lower and the upper half of the body.  Depending on the severity of the injury, this could involve only one side of the body or both sides, and could range from mild paralysis to nearly complete loss of use.
  • Complete tetraplegia. This term refers to the loss of all ability to control muscle function below the neck.

What Does A “Spinal Cord Disability” Mean?

An SCI itself does not constitute a disability.  The disability is the loss of use associated with the injury.  Many disabilities can arise from the various types of spinal cord injuries, including:

  • Paralysis–the inability to move muscles or muscle groups
  • Uncontrollable contractions of muscles, leading to twitching or spasms
  • Muscular deterioration, often known as dystrophy
  • Chronic pain, numbness, or weakness in certain muscle groups
  • Incontinence of bowels or bladder
  • Impotence

How Are Damages Calculated in an SCI Case?

Once the extent of the damage from a spinal cord injury is understood, the costs associated with the injury can be calculated.  In figuring these costs, an attorney will look at three major factors:

  • Current medical costs. These are the costs to treat the injury immediately after the accident and costs associated with ongoing care at the time the lawsuit is filed.
  • Future medical costs. This is an estimate of what future medical costs will be based on the prognosis for the outcome of the case.  In some cases, these figures are relatively easy to find; in other cases, the attorney will make adjustments for possible future treatments that have not yet been tried.
  • Future living expenses. Many victims have increased living expenses to include nursing or support care, occupational therapy, rehabilitation, and modifications to living areas to accommodate the victim’s new lifestyle.

Finally, the attorney will consider whether or not to ask for special damages such as punitive or other compensatory damages related to the specifics of the case.

If you need help calculating your case’s value, call the attorneys at Barber & Associates.  We have been working with victims of spinal cord injury accidents for many years and know how to evaluate your case properly.  Give us a call today.

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