Los Angeles Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer

Los Angeles Spinal Cord Injury Attorney

Every year in the U.S., close to 18,000 people sustain a spinal cord injury (SCI) – one of the most serious types of catastrophic injury. This figure breaks down to 48 spinal cord injuries every day.

Trauma to the cervical spinal cord vertebra is associated with loss of function in the arms and legs, a condition known as quadriplegia. Injury to the thoracic vertebra can result in paraplegia, paralysis of the lower extremities that may include the abdomen, legs, feet, and toes. The most debilitating spinal cord injury affects systems that regulate breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, and bladder/bowel control. 

Spinal cord injuries can take a serious physical and emotional toll, robbing you of the life of a loved one, or your own health, mobility, and independence.  By some estimates, there are 12,000 new cases of spinal cord injury every year in the United States.  With its dangerous roads and active residents, California accounts for its share in this unfortunate statistic.  If you suffered a spinal cord injury in Los Angeles, Ellis Injury Law can help. Our premier team of legal talent, investigative researchers, and medical experts together offer the most comprehensive representation available to victims of negligence dealing with spinal cord injuries.

Kinds of spinal cord injuries

A spinal cord injury is a rupturing, tearing, or bruising of the spinal cord, often due to some form of trauma that compromises the protection provided by the spine.  An injury could involve a fracture or misalignment of the vertebrae, or a ruptured (herniated) disk (the pad between the vertebrae; also known as a “slipped” disk).  Spinal cord injuries can be incomplete (so that motion or sensation is diminished), or complete (so that no motion or sensation remains at all).

Injuries are categorized based on their location in the spinal cord:

  • cervical spinal cord injury (tetraplegia or quadriplegia):  to the neck/upper back
  • thoracic spinal cord injury:  to the area near the rib cage
  • lombar spinal cord injury (paraplegia):  to the area of the lower back
  • sacral spinal cord injury:  to the area about the “tail bone”

Depending on the location or severity of the injury, the injured party may experience any number of resulting health problems such as:

  • paralysis or weakness of the limbs
  • loss of physical sensation
  • respiratory (breathing) problems
  • bowel or bladder dysfunctions
  • sexual dysfunctions
  • chronic pain or discomfort
  • emotional or psychological struggles

Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury  

The symptoms of a spinal cord injury will vary widely based on the location. Immediately following a spinal cord injury, the spine may enter a state of shock, resulting in an initial loss or reduction in feeling, muscle movement, and reflexes. 

Some of the most common symptoms of spinal cord injuries are: 

  • Motor Function Impairment: Muscle weakness or paralysis, impacting the ability to control movements. 
  • Loss of Sensation: Partial or complete loss of sensation below the level of the injury, affecting touch, temperature, and proprioception (the sense of self-movement, force, and body position).
  • Chronic Pain: Persistent and often intense pain in the neck, head, or back
  • Breathing Problems: Depending on the level of the spinal cord injury, respiratory muscles may be affected, leading to breathing difficulties.
  • Loss of bowel and bladder function: Spinal cord injuries can impact control over bowel and bladder functions

Every spinal cord injury case is unique. If you or a loved one is injured and exhibits any of the symptoms associated with spinal cord injuries, seek medical attention immediately. 

 Filing a Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit: Key Steps 

A spinal cord injury is often a life-altering experience, and in the aftermath, understanding your rights and what steps to take are important. If you or someone you know has experienced a spinal cord injury in California, consider the following:  

  • Seek Immediate Medical Attention Right Away: Victims should prioritize their health by seeking prompt medical attention, essential for an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.
  • Document the Incident: If possible, document details of the accident by taking photographs, getting contact information from witnesses, noting any nearby businesses as they may have surveillance cameras, and any other contributing factors relevant to building a solid and compelling case.
  • Consult with a Spinal Cord Injury Attorney: Contact a specialized attorney with experience in spinal cord injury cases. Legal guidance is essential in understanding your rights and potential compensation while navigating the complex legal processes.

We understand that the road to recovery from a spinal cord injury can be overwhelming. However, with the support of an experienced spinal cord injury attorney, you won’t have to do it alone. 

How Does a Spinal Injury Affect Your Life? 

The impact of spinal injuries on one’s life can be profound. Simple activities like bathing may now require meticulous planning and assistance. According to a report from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), the average remaining years of life for individuals with traumatic Spinal Cord Injury has not improved since the 1980s and continues to fall significantly below the life expectancies of those without a traumatic spinal cord injury. 

Beyond the immediate physical challenges, individuals may grapple with emotional and psychological effects, navigating changes in personal relationships and adjusting to new financial burdens. In addition, coping with sudden changes in physical abilities, potential lifestyle alterations, and the uncertainty of the future can contribute to feelings of grief, anxiety, and depression. 

Ellis Law will tirelessly advocate to ensure that individuals affected by spinal cord injuries are not only compensated for immediate losses but are also adequately supported in addressing the challenges posed by these injuries. 

California Fault and Comparative Negligence Laws 

California is a pure comparative negligence jurisdiction. It means that individuals can recover damages even if they are partially at fault for the accident. However, the amount is adjusted based on the percentage of fault assigned to the victim. This underscores the need for an experienced attorney who can thoroughly investigate your accident to minimize the degree of fault attributed to you.  

Proving the negligence of the defendant requires the four following elements.  

  • Duty of Care: Establish that the defendant owed you a legal duty of care. For example, in a car accident, the defendant owes everyone a duty of care to drive carefully.
  • Breach of Duty: Show that the defendant breached the duty of care, e.g., by driving drunk or distracted.
  • Establish Causation: It must be demonstrated that the defendant’s negligent actions directly resulted in your injuries. For example, the defendant rear-ended you because they were distracted.
  • Damages: You suffered actual damages as a result of the defendant’s breach of duty, which can include medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress, property damage, or other financial losses.

Should you call a spine injury attorney?

Spinal injury lawsuits are one method for easing the financial strain following a traumatic experience. It could take years for resolution, while taking an emotional toll on you and your family, but the substantial payout may be your best chance of living without financial worry.

Most people are not in a financial position to cover the cost of disability-accessible housing, vehicle adaptation, motorized wheel chairs, and other personal assistive technology. Even with help from health and disability insurance companies, as well as the State and Federal Government, people with spinal cord injuries may still be lacking the financial, social, medical, and rehabilitative support needed to get by.

Finance is not the only reason people call spine injury attorneys. Some victims are worried that the perpetrator(s) who injured them will go on injuring others unless they are held accountable for their actions. This is particularly the case when individuals are harmed by doctors, large corporations, or violent offenders.

Sometimes spine injury victims just need to know what happened and would like to tap the vast resources of a law firm. Ellis Injury Law Firm in Los Angeles, California helps spine injury victims who have suffered needlessly due to the negligent or reckless actions of another party. The moments before catastrophic injury can all be a blur. If you are unsure of what happened leading up to the injury and need more clarification or suspect that there was more to the accident than meets the eye, we can help!

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

California’s standard statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is generally two years. It is crucial to consult with a legal professional as soon as possible to ensure compliance with these deadlines and preserve your right to seek compensation. Take the first step toward healing and contact the legal team at Ellis Law to get started on your injury claim. 

Costs of spinal cord injuries 

About one-third of spinal cord injury victims are re-hospitalized at least once a year after their accident, with hospital stays averaging 20 days. Needless to say, the cost of medical care and long-term rehabilitation is astronomical. By recent estimates, the lifetime costs for a 25-year-old living with a spinal cord injury runs between $1,500,000 and $4,600,000.  

California law allows catastrophic injury victims to recover monetary damages when evidence shows their harm was caused by the negligent actions of another. Successful litigation can help ease the hardships of hospital bills, surgery fees, physical therapists, and other costs that can undermine one’s financial security.  

Ellis Law’s team of Los Angeles personal injury lawyers leverages 25 years of experience successfully litigating catastrophic injury claims involving spinal cord injury, paralysis, and long-term disability. Our seasoned trial attorneys know how to maximize the value of your spinal cord injury lawsuit, and take pride in offering clients compassionate, attentive service through each phase of the litigation process.  

Most common causes of spinal cord injuries

Spinal cord injuries can occur under a variety of circumstances.  The following are the primary causes of traumatic spinal cord injury – injuries that do not stem from disease, age, or infection. 

  • Motor vehicle accidents – severe trauma to the spinal cord is common in rollover accidents, which mostly affect the cervical vertebra 
  • Falls – Slips, trips and falls account for 31 percent of all spinal cord injuries. These often take place on public property, at work sites, amusement parks, and swimming pools. People aged 65 and older are most susceptible  
  • Recreational sporting accidents – In terms of sporting accidents, football has the highest rate of cervical spine injuries. Rugby, surfing and horseback riding are also linked to a greater risk of SCI.  
  • Acts of violence – gunshot wounds or blunt force trauma  
  • Medical mistakes – errors during surgical procedures that compromise or injure the spinal cord 
  • Faulty products – For example, a defective airbag that failed to inflate during a car accident 

Causes of spine injuries are often preventable

Of the roughly 12,000 annual spine injuries, about 35.9% are caused by motor vehicle crashes. Most of these accidents were preventable in some way. Attorneys bring in their own team of crash scene investigators, researchers, witnesses, medical experts, accident reconstructionists, and police officers to examine what happened, and identify instances where another person’s negligence is at least partially responsible for your injuries.

Additionally, 29.5% of spine injuries result from violence – another instance where a California spine injury lawyer can be invaluable. Gunshots and knife wounds are the top causes of injury to the spine. When perpetrators can be determined, a spine injury lawsuit is an effective way to bring about justice and closure.

An estimated 20.3% of spinal cord injuries happen during falls. Particularly when the falls occur on-the-job, there are many factors to consider. The employer’s safety training, oversight, and working conditions all must be explored to ensure there is not a systemic problem.

Sports cause 7.3% of spine injuries, and another 7% can be attributed to “other” causes. No matter what the case may be, defendants can include sports leagues, employers, contractors, local municipalities, property owners, and a host of others you may not immediately expect, so it’s best to have a lawyer look into your case.

Liability issues

If you have suffered a spinal cord injury, you may at first blame yourself (“How could I have been so careless?”)  However, other parties may also be responsible under such circumstances.  For instance, in a premises liability case, property owners are responsible for providing a safe environment, whereas manufacturers are responsible for providing properly functioning equipment with appropriate instructions and safety warnings.  If such parties have not met their obligations, they are responsible (or “liable”), at least partially, for any injury that you suffered as a result.

An Ellis Law Los Angeles personal injury attorney can demonstrate the responsibility that others may have for your injury.  We work with a network of experts to present evidence of liability.  These include medical experts, who understand the kind of tests and exams necessary to understand your condition and treatment, and other kinds of investigators in the Los Angeles area.  We understand the legal framework and details necessary to successfully present your case in a California court and we have the resources at our disposal to obtain compensation for your injuries.

Taking legal action after an SCI 

The consequences of an SCI depend on the location and severity of the spinal cord injury. In addition to varying degrees of paralysis, victims may suffer from genitourinary system diseases, as well as digestive, respiratory, circulatory, and musculoskeletal issues. 

Spinal injury lawsuits entail complex medical and legal issues, underscoring the need to choose your legal counsel carefully. Andrew Ellis is a highly respected catastrophic injury lawyer who has recovered more than a quarter-billion dollars on behalf of clients during his career. 

In addition to providing staunch advocacy and compassionate support to spinal cord injury victims, Ellis Law collaborates with top-tier industry experts, to ensure past, current and future losses are properly assessed and compensated.  

Compensation for spinal cord injuries

If a jury determines that another party is liable in your case, you may be awarded compensation to cover medical bills, rehabilitation expenses, lost wages, diminished earning capacity, pain and suffering and other damages related to the injury.  The amount of settlements will vary, depending on the extent of your injuries and the degree to which the defendants are deemed liable for them.  However, more severe spinal cord injuries can require expensive medical equipment and changes to your home, as well as years of medical care and assistance.  Children with serious spinal cord injuries in particular will need a lifetime of additional care, equipment, and access to special facilities.   Settlements in such cases can be proportionately large.

In a recent case, a Los Angeles man was rendered a quadriplegic through a weightlifting accident that could have been prevented with the simple installation of a safety device to the weight machine.  In 2008, the plaintiff ended up getting a $10,000,000 dollar settlement based on a bad faith claim against the insurance company, which had initially refused to settle during the original 2002 trial.

Even if your injury is less severe, your case deserves the thorough and experienced treatment that the personal injury attorneys at Ellis Law can provide.

How much is a spinal cord injury case worth? 

In light of the life-long disabilities caused by severe spinal injuries, the potential for a large settlement or verdict is high. Of course, each case is unique and compensation is awarded based on the following factors: 

  • The age of the plaintiff at the time of injury 
  • Past, current and anticipated medical care expenses 
  • Rehabilitation costs 
  • Medical equipment or devices 
  • Loss of wages and future earnings 
  • Pain and emotional suffering 
  • Loss of enjoyment of life 

Experienced legal advocacy from Ellis Law 

The knowledge and expertise of your attorney can make a major difference in the outcome of your spinal cord injury claim. Whether hurt on the construction site, in a car accident, or in a slip & fall accident, you can reach out to a Los Angeles accident lawyer at Ellis Law to help you get the compensation you deserve. 

Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation catastrophic injury lawsuit review. Our firm operates on a no-win, no-fee basis, so there are no upfront costs!