Spinal cord injuries can have a devastating physical, emotional and financial impact on the lives of victims and their families. If a victim’s spinal cord damage was caused by the negligence of another, however, he or she may be able to pursue a personal injury lawsuit and seek a recovery of damages.
These funds won’t erase the harm that has been suffered. However, they can help a spinal cord injury victim to pay bills that may be piling up as well as to move on in life with a sense of security.
The amount of damages that can be recovered in a spinal cord injury lawsuit in New York will vary from case to case. Factors that can determine the recovery amount include the severity of the injury and the availability of insurance coverage.
It is crucial to work with an attorney who can examine all factors involved in a case and determine the damages amount that should be pursued in your case.
The personal injury lawyers of Powers & Santola, LLP, have the experience and legal skills that spinal cord injury victims and their families deserve. Since 1987, our firm has protected the rights of catastrophic injury victims in Albany, Syracuse and throughout New York. Contact us today to arrange a free consultation.
As we review your case, we will focus on damages that can generally be broken into three categories: Economic, non-economic and punitive.
To help you get a better understanding of what may be sought in your case, we present a closer look at each damages category.
Economic Damages in a Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit
A claim for economic damages is based on objective evidence such as bills, receipts and, perhaps, a statistical analysis prepared by an expert. This category of damages can be broken into two sub-categories:
- Past and Future Medical Expenses – If you have suffered spinal cord injury due to the negligence of another party, all reasonable and necessary medical (and other) expenses that are related to that party’s negligence should be fully covered.This includes emergency treatment, surgery, hospitalization, medication, rehabilitation and assistive devices. It may also include ongoing care – whether it is provided by a skilled nursing facility, home health aide or family member – and mental health counseling.
The more severe a spinal cord injury is, the more expensive care and treatment will be. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) provides these estimates of “average yearly expenses” for spinal cord injuries:
Injury First Year Each Year After High tetraplegia (C1-C4) $1,023,924 $171,808 Low tetraplegia (C5-C8) $739,874 $ 109,077 Paraplegia $499,023 $66,106 Incomplete motor function $334,170 $40,589
Future costs also will depend on a person’s age at the time of the injury. For example, the NSCISC estimates that a person will face $2,221,596 in lifetime costs if he or she suffers paraplegia at age 25 and $1,457,967 if he or she suffers the condition at age 50.
- Lost Wages and Loss of Earning Capacity – You should also be compensated for all income you have lost due to your injury, including your salary and fringe benefits or self-employment income. Additionally, our firm can work with an economist to calculate how your spinal cord injury has damaged your ability to earn income in the years ahead.
Non-Economic Damages in a Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit
In contrast to economic damages, non-economic damages are – to a degree – subjective. However, objective evidence can still be used to arrive at the proper amount. These damages can be broken into three categories:
- Pain and suffering – These damages take into account the severity of pain a victim may have suffered, which may be substantial in a spinal cord injury case. Often, the amount in economic damages is multiplied to arrive at this figure.
- Mental anguish – These damages should reflect the trauma a spinal cord injury victim has experienced and any ongoing anxiety, depression or other mental health issues the victim experiences.
- Loss of consortium – These damages can cover the services a spouse would have provided if not for the injury. For example, if a spouse would have mowed the lawn every week, how much will it cost to hire a landscaping company to do so now? These damages also include lost comfort, affection and sexual relations.
Punitive damages – also called “exemplary damages” – may also be pursued in some spinal cord injury cases. These damages are not intended to compensate the victim. Instead, the purpose is to punish and deter one who has engaged in “intentionally harmful” or “willfully or wantonly negligent or reckless actions.”
Other Considerations in a Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit
Finally, you should take into account the following factors that may reduce the amount that can be recovered in a spinal cord injury claim in New York:
- Comparative fault – New York is a “pure” comparative negligence state. This means that your recovery could be reduced in proportion to the amount of fault attributed to you. For instance, if you suffer $1 million in damages, and you are 40 percent at fault, the most you could recover would be $600,000.
- Offsets – If your medical treatment has been paid by another provider, including a government program such as Medicare or Medicaid, the provider will seek to recover that amount from a settlement or verdict that you obtain.
- Costs and fees – Our law firm often represents personal injury victims on a contingency fee basis. This means that we will pay the costs of investigation and litigation, including expert fees, and we will not charge for our legal services unless we obtain a recovery for you. When a settlement or verdict is reached in a case, that amount will be deducted from a final recovery.
Contact a Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Serving Albany and Syracuse
If you or a loved one has suffered spinal cord injury in Albany, Syracuse or elsewhere in New York due to the suspected negligence of another, get in touch with the personal injury lawyers of Powers & Santola, LLP. Reach us by phone or through our online form.
We handle only select cases so we can devote the full extent of our skill, experience and resources towards obtaining the damages our clients deserve.
Sources / More Information
- The Costs of Living with SCI, Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation