After a serious spinal injury, victims often wonder, “how much compensation will I get for a spinal injury?” To find the answer, it’s important to understand the nature and seriousness of spinal injuries, as well as the types of damages that can be covered in a settlement. Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) are catastrophic traumas which often produce partial or complete paralysis, a range of other lifelong physical challenges and, many times, even death. They devastate tens of thousands of victims, and their families, every year. Common causes of SCIs include vehicle wrecks, workplace accidents and sports injuries. Some are also the result of surgeries or injections. Any time you submit to a medical procedure on or near the spinal cord, there is always a risk of injury. When one suffers an SCI, one thing is certain: Victims suffer financial hardship, along with acute physical and mental pain, and so does their family. This helps to explain why many spinal injury compensation settlements and trial jury awards can be quite large. Many serious spinal cord injuries cause lifelong disabilities. Damages surrounding spinal injury compensation can include both the tangible (economic) and intangible (non-economic).
Types of Damages Covered by Compensation for a Spinal InjuryEconomic damages involve medical bills, lost wages, and other quantifiable losses – the sort that can be tabulated on a balance sheet. Non-economic damages involve the tragic impact the SCI has on the victim’s quality of life, such as emotional suffering, lifestyle changes, and changes to the victim’s family relationships. Non-economic damages can be difficult to accurately value for the purposes of damage compensation, but they are vital in SCI damage settlements or jury awards. The types of damages victims of an SCI can anticipate include:
- Past and future medical expenses and life care costs, which also include specialized professional care and unique equipment to assist SCI victims, such as mobility devices like motor vehicles, electric wheelchairs, etc. This also includes expenses for transporting the victim to and from medical treatment, therapy, rehabilitation and other recurring life care services.
- Loss of past and future income (including company-paid benefits, such as medical insurance and retirement account contributions)
- Pain and suffering to the victim. This includes physical pain, mental and emotional suffering, physical impairment, inconvenience, disfigurement, emotional distress and, most important, the victim’s quality of life and the loss of ability to enjoy it.
- Loss of consortium and companionship. This is primarily meant to compensate spouses and children for their pain and suffering from the family member’s SCI. If the injury occurs to a husband or wife, the loss of that partner’s ability to help manage the household, take care of the kids, and contribute their income creates an overwhelming physical and emotional burden. The wife or husband of their SCI injured spouse needs compensation to pay for household services, such as lawn care, home repairs, major appliance replacements, etc. All the losses the victim AND the family have suffered are reimbursable.
- If appropriate, additional (punitive) damages if the party who caused the accident acted with gross negligence or willful intent.