How much is a spinal cord injury lawsuit worth? The value of a spinal cord injury lawsuit often comes down to the extent the defendant is at fault and the severity of the injury. Spinal cord lawsuits are sometimes worth five to six figures but may go into the millions of dollars in extraordinary circumstances. Compensable damages include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Punitive damages may apply if the defendant’s behavior was especially bad.
Compensable Damages for Spinal Cord Injuries
Compensatory or compensable damages are those that reimburse plaintiffs for the costs associated with the injury. They include quantifiable, specific, out-of-pocket economic damages in the following categories.
Medical expenses (past, current, and future): Medical bills, as well as costs for hospital stays and treatments, lab tests, surgeries, physical therapy, rehabilitation, pain management, prescription medications, at-home nursing, medical transportation, and increased living expenses are covered.
Lost wages and loss of earning capacity: Spinal cord injuries typically affect a person’s ability to earn money, and money lost while in recovery is compensable.
Compensable damages also involve repercussions that are harder to quantify. These are called general damages. Pain and suffering falls under this category. Victims of spinal cord injuries often experience depression, insomnia, PTSD, lower quality of life, loss of companionship, and physical disfigurement, all of which are calculated as damages in a claim.
Punitive damages may come into play if judges believe that the compensatory damages are insufficient to punish the defendant and deter the same thing from happening again. Punitive damages are more common in situations of appalling, gross negligence or malice. They are not available in all Chicago lawsuits. An attorney can help determine what damages are available to you. The best time to hire a personal injury lawyer is as soon as possible after an injury, even if you do not yet have the full picture.
Factors That Influence How Much a Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit Is Worth
No set formula exists for calculating how much a spinal cord injury lawsuit is worth. However, the following factors give an idea of how strong a case is and how much you might receive.
Paralysis and Other Serious Injuries
With paralysis and brain or neck damage, a spinal cord injury lawsuit could be worth more than $350,000. This is due to the expenses associated with such injuries.
Obvious, Extreme Negligence
If a driver blew through a red light or a property owner continually ignored a staircase that needed fixing, the extreme negligence could lead to a spinal cord injury lawsuit worth more than $250,000.
Severe Injuries With Intense Repercussions
Spinal cord injuries that are serious and that affect your life, career, mental health, emotional health, or other areas could be worth higher amounts.
Partial Liability on Your Part
Since Illinois follows a comparative fault system, if you bear some liability for the spinal cord injury, that is likely to lower the settlement amount. This depends on the type of accident that caused your injuries.
“Typical” Versus “Outlier” Factors
The majority of spinal cord cases settle in the five figures or low six figures. That is because medical professionals typically predict recovery to be quick with no long-term damage, or the plaintiffs bear some fault for the injury. For example, the large majority of slip and fall-on-ice claims do not involve severe, long-lasting damage, but a few extreme cases do. In “outlier” cases, the injuries can be worth millions of dollars.
For example, if the government is in some way culpable for a severe spinal cord injury with lasting damage, settlement amounts could be higher. The public expects government employees and officials to follow a relatively high standard of conduct. If prison guards caused a prisoner’s spinal cord injury, that might lead to a settlement that is higher than usual, especially if negligence or abuse played a role. The same idea applies if police officers cause spinal cord injuries. Even injuries caused by school bus drivers and other drivers employed by the government could lead to higher settlement amounts.
Whether the government is involved or not, the severity of the injury and lasting repercussions are critical. If medical professionals do not expect you to recover quickly or completely, you likely need more financial assistance over your lifetime. You also endure more pain and suffering, which often results in higher compensation amounts.
Even doctors can be held responsible for spinal cord injuries. For example, they might commit medical malpractice by not diagnosing a spinal cord injury when it was reasonable to expect they would. The lack of diagnosis can lead to further, serious problems for plaintiffs. A key consideration is whether it was reasonable to expect a doctor to diagnose the injury. If similar doctors in the same situation would make the same assessment as the doctor who did not diagnose a spinal cord injury, then there might not even be a case for a spinal cord injury lawsuit.
Motor vehicle accidents are among the leading causes of spinal cord injuries. Many accidents involve high speeds, negligence, driver distraction, and serious injuries. If your spinal cord injury resulted from a motor vehicle accident, your lawsuit might be worth more. How much depends on the particulars of the accident, injury severity, and any fault you bear.
Spinal cord injury lawsuits are possible in all manner of cases, including situations where roofs collapse on customers and where fire hydrants malfunction. Many parties could potentially be responsible.
It can be tricky to assess the value or worth of a spinal cord injury lawsuit you are considering. Rather than try to figure it out alone, consult with a spinal cord injury lawyer as soon as possible. Many factors go into possible settlement amounts, and lawyers can help with evidence preservation, insurance company negotiations, and other legal issues.
Chicago personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney Howard Ankin has a passion for justice and a relentless commitment to defending injured victims throughout the Chicagoland area. With decades of experience achieving justice on behalf of the people of Chicago, Howard has earned a reputation as a proven leader in and out of the courtroom. Respected by peers and clients alike, Howard’s multifaceted approach to the law and empathetic nature have secured him a spot as an influential figure in the Illinois legal system.