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Suffering a spinal cord injury can be a life-changing experience. The damage to the spinal cord can cause severe pain and hinder an individual’s ability to carry out daily tasks. If you or a loved one suffers a spinal cord injury (SCI) as a result of someone else’s negligence, it is only fair that you get compensation to help you cover your financial losses. We’re here to help you. Contact our Charleston personal injury lawyers to schedule a free consultation.
The Charleston spine injury attorneys at Mickelsen Dalton have a long-standing reputation for providing exceptional legal counsel. Here’s why you should work with us for your spinal injury case:
In these difficult times, the assistance of an experienced spinal cord injury lawyer can make all the difference. Here’s how an attorney can help:
Spinal cord injuries are divided into two main categories: complete and incomplete. These categories define the extent of the injury and its impact on an individual’s mobility and function.
A complete spinal cord injury refers to cases where the injury results in complete paralysis and loss of sensation below the site of the injury. In these cases, an individual may lose the use of their arms, legs, or both, depending on the location of the spinal cord injury.
An incomplete spinal cord injury refers to cases where an individual retains some degree of movement and sensation below the injury site.
More specifically, spinal cord injuries can lead to various conditions, including:
Spinal cord injuries can occur due to various causes, some of which may involve negligence or intentional harm from another party. Understanding how these injuries occur is critical in identifying potential sources of liability and seeking proper legal recourse. Some of the most common causes of SCI include:
Determining liability for a spinal cord injury can be a complex process. In many cases, several different factors and parties may contribute to an accident that causes these injuries. Some of the most common parties held responsible for an SCI include the following:
Car accidents are a leading cause of spinal cord injuries, and in many cases, liability lies with negligent vehicle drivers. Accidents may result from drunk driving, speeding, reckless driving, disregard for traffic signals, or even distracted driving. When a driver’s negligence or recklessness leads to a spinal cord injury, the victim has the right to pursue a personal injury claim against the responsible party.
Sometimes, spinal cord injuries happen due to hazardous conditions on someone’s property. Uneven surfaces, wet floors, inadequate lighting, and poorly maintained stairs are just a few examples of dangers that may lead to a fall resulting in a spinal cord injury. In such cases, the property owner may be held liable under what’s known as “premises liability.” Property owners have a duty to maintain a safe environment for guests and visitors and can be held responsible if they fail to do so.
Spinal cord injuries may stem from defective products, such as malfunctioning safety equipment or automotive parts. When products fail to function as they should due to design defects, manufacturing flaws, or inadequate warnings, the companies responsible for their production may be held liable. Product liability claims can involve a wide range of entities, from manufacturers to distributors, making it crucial to have an experienced spinal cord injury attorney navigate this complex arena on your behalf.
In some instances, medical professionals may be liable for spinal cord injuries resulting from medical malpractice. Such cases may involve surgical errors, misdiagnoses, delayed treatment, or improper aftercare. Medical malpractice claims can be challenging to prove, requiring expert witnesses and extensive documentation. Partnering with a qualified injury attorney who has experience with medical malpractice cases can greatly improve your chances of obtaining compensation for your injuries and losses.
Spinal cord injuries may also occur in the workplace, especially in jobs with high levels of physical demands. Employers have a responsibility to ensure that workers are safe on the job and provided with appropriate safety gear and training. If an employer’s negligence results in a spinal cord injury, the victim may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits and in rare cases, may also be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the employer.
While we tend to consider our canine companions to be loyal and loving friends, the unfortunate reality is that dog attacks and bites still occur and can lead to serious injuries. When a dog causes a spinal cord injury – whether due to a direct attack or a secondary event, such as knocking someone down – the owner may be held responsible under the concept of strict liability.
Strict liability means that the dog’s owner is deemed responsible for any injuries caused by the animal, regardless of whether or not they took reasonable care to prevent the incident:
“(A) If a person is bitten or otherwise attacked by a dog while the person is in a public place or is lawfully in a private place, including the property of the dog owner or person having the dog in the person’s care or keeping, the dog owner or person having the dog in the person’s care or keeping is liable for the damages suffered by the person bitten or otherwise attacked.”
However, there are exceptions to strict liability, such as situations where:
In these cases, the dog owner may not be held liable for the spinal cord injury.
When filing a personal injury lawsuit involving a spinal cord injury, there are several types of damages that can be recovered. These damages are usually categorized as economic damages, non-economic damages, and in some cases, punitive damages.
Economic damages consist of objective, quantifiable losses that stem directly from the accident that caused the injury. These can include:
Non-economic damages are subjective and more difficult to quantify. Some examples include:
In rare cases, punitive damages may also be awarded. These damages aim to punish the defendant for their particularly reckless or malicious actions and serve as a deterrent to others:
“Punitive damages may be awarded only if the plaintiff proves by clear and convincing evidence that his harm was the result of the defendant’s wilful, wanton, or reckless conduct.”
To establish negligence in a spinal cord injury case, you will need to prove the following four elements:
It’s helpful to understand more about what these elements mean and how they apply to spinal cord injury cases.
The first requirement in a negligence case is to demonstrate that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care. This means that the defendant was responsible for acting with reasonable care and caution to avoid harming others. Duties of care vary depending on the circumstances. For example, all drivers have a duty of care to others on the roads.
The second element is that the defendant breached their duty of care through their actions or inaction. This might involve an act of recklessness, carelessness, or failure to provide adequate safety measures. Examples of breaches in spinal cord injury cases can include a property owner failing to repair a dangerous condition on their premises, a driver operating their vehicle recklessly, or a careless medical practitioner mishandling your treatment.
The third element, causation, requires proving that the defendant’s breach of duty directly caused the plaintiff’s spinal cord injury. This means that if the defendant had not breached their duty, the injury would not have occurred. Establishing causation can be complicated, especially in cases where multiple factors could have contributed to the injury. Expert testimony from medical professionals and accident reconstruction specialists is often needed to prove this element.
Finally, you must demonstrate that the spinal cord injury resulted in damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
While a spinal cord injury is undoubtedly a life-changing experience, having a skilled Charleston spinal cord injury lawyer can significantly improve your chances of receiving fair compensation for your losses. Contact Mickelsen Dalton today to schedule a free consultation.