Spinal cord injuries, whether they occur in a slip and fall, on a construction site, or in an auto accident, create life-changing consequences and challenges in the victim's life. Spinal cord injuries can change your preferred leisure activities, where you can work, and even your ability to take care of yourself.
If you suffered spinal cord injuries due to the negligence of another party in Boston, you may deserve compensation for your injuries, including both the financial losses you faced due to your injuries and the suffering you have dealt with in the aftermath of your injury. Contact the Boston spinal cord injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group today to learn more.
Dolman Law Group: Experienced Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys Who Can Help With Your Spinal Cord Injury Claim
At Dolman Law Group, we have extensive experience managing catastrophic personal injury claims, including spinal cord injury claims. Notably, we achieved $1.58 million in compensation for an accident victim who had two herniated discs impinging on his spinal cord. We have also helped victims of auto accidents, construction accidents, and slip and fall accidents pursue the compensation they deserve for serious spinal injuries.
Having an attorney on your side as you pursue compensation for a spinal cord injury can offer you a number of important advantages. A Boston personal injury attorney can:
- Explain the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Often, accident victims do not fully understand the compensation they deserve for their injuries, which can cause them to accept settlement offers that do not reflect the amount they really need. By working with an experienced spinal cord injury attorney, you can get a breakdown of the actual compensation you deserve and how to go after it. This includes future expenses, treatment and care costs, and intangible losses.
- Help find evidence regarding your claim. If you suffer spinal cord injuries during a premises liability accident, for example, your attorney may visit the accident scene, take photos of the place where the accident occurred, and even look into past accidents that may have occurred there. The attorney may help prove that the premises owner knew about the hazard and did not take adequate steps to protect you and other visitors to the premises.
- Negotiate on your behalf. Dealing with the insurance company or liable party after a serious accident can cause a great deal of stress for many people. By working with an attorney, you can leave that stress on someone else's shoulders and focus on the aspects of your recovery you control.
- Provide legal advice on your case. Claimants in personal injury cases will need to make several decisions as their claim moves forward. They may need to determine when and if they want to sue, if they want to accept a settlement offer, and whether they want to go to trial. While all of these decisions are up to the accident victim, their attorney should provide all the necessary information and advice to ensure their client can make the right decision for them.
The Aftermath of Boston Spinal Cord Injuries: The Limitations Faced by Accident Victims
Many spinal cord injury victims live with the assurance that they still have many things they can do, and they choose to focus on those opportunities rather than getting stuck on the things they have lost. However, spinal cord injuries may cause a wide range of challenges, many of which can impact the victim's work, leisure, and personal life.
No two spinal cord injuries are the same, even when they affect the same area or occurred in the same way. The exact nature, location, and severity of the injury can affect the person's rehabilitation, their regained abilities, whether they can adapt to perform certain tasks, and more. In general, those with incomplete spinal cord injuries may recover more abilities than those who suffered complete injuries.
Complete Spinal Cord Injuries
Complete spinal cord injuries involve a complete loss of sensation below the site of the injury. Victims usually cannot move at all below the site of a spinal cord injury. They may suffer from decreased organ function, as well. The extent of the paralysis and loss of sensation usually depends on where the injury occurred. If the injury occurred high on the spinal cord, it can cause paralysis of the arms and hands. Injury lower on the spinal cord, usually known as paraplegia, primarily affects the legs.
Complete spinal cord injuries can cause changes and challenges in your daily life, especially as you first adapt to your injuries. You may need to use a wheelchair to get around. If you suffered high spinal cord injuries, you may lose the use of your hands and arms or some muscle groups in your arms. You may struggle to maintain posture because you do not have full control of your trunk. Many spinal cord injury victims need a caregiver who can help with their basic care tasks and provide vitally needed assistance with things they can no longer do for themselves.
Many people with spinal cord injuries go on to live very fulfilling lives. However, they may need to completely change direction in their plans for their lives, including their professions. For example, if you previously worked in construction or in a warehouse, you may have a hard time completing those job responsibilities if you suffer from tetraplegia or an injury high on the spinal cord.
Due to the loss of other functions below the injury site, victims may also suffer from bladder and bowel issues or sexual dysfunction. For many victims, sexual dysfunction can mean a change in their romantic relationships as well as the challenges they face in other areas of their lives.
Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries
Victims with incomplete spinal cord injuries may still have some function and mobility below the injury site. However, they may still suffer from decreased mobility or some loss of function. Incomplete spinal cord injury can range in severity, creating everything from minor impact in the victim's life to impact almost as severe as that faced by spinal cord injury victims with complete injuries. Victims may also suffer pain below the site of the injury.
While victims with complete spinal cord injuries see some improvement over the first few months following their injuries, they may make relatively little progress. Victims with incomplete spinal cord injuries, on the other hand, often see some healing over the first several months following the accident and may gain significant function over time.
Identifying the Liable Party or Parties After a Boston Accident Resulting in Spinal Cord Injury
Finding the liable party after your Boston accident cannot turn back the clock and restore lost mobility or sensation. It can, however, help you hold the liable party accountable. A spinal cord injury claim can also help you pay for your medical bills and manage the other expenses associated with spinal cord injuries.
Talk to an experienced spinal cord injury attorney about how to identify the liable party in your accident. The attorney may fully investigate your accident and everything that led up to it to get a better idea of who may have caused or contributed to it. In some cases, the attorney may even identify more than one party that contributed to the circumstances that caused your spinal cord injury. If the attorney can identify more than one liable party, you may file a spinal cord injury claim against each one, which may increase the compensation you ultimately receive for your injuries.
The attorney will consider where and how your injury occurred, then evaluate:
Who Bore a Duty of Care to You at the Time of the Accident?
Loosely defined, a party with a “duty of care” includes anyone who may have had a responsibility to care for you or keep you safe at the time of the accident. If you suffered injuries on a construction site, for example, the company that runs the site has a high duty of care to anyone who visits that site and must take whatever steps it can to keep them safe. While construction sites have many hazards that can cause serious injuries for workers and visitors at that site, the company that runs the site must take appropriate safety precautions to keep both visitors and workers as safe as possible.
Likewise, every driver must adhere to the rules of the road and exercise care to prevent injury to anyone else who shares the road with him, including other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcycle riders.
How Did the Liable Party Violate That Duty of Care?
On a Boston construction site, the company failed to provide adequate safety equipment, which resulted in your fall and, ultimately, in your spinal cord injuries. During your visit to a hotel in Boston, you slipped and fell on poorly maintained hotel stairs. On the road, a driver chose to drink and drive, ignore the rules of the road, or drive while distracted.
Any time someone else violates their duty of care and causes an accident, they may bear liability for the injuries suffered as a result. Consult an attorney from Dolman Law Group to learn more about potential violations of the duty of care that led to your accident.
How Did Those Violations Lead to Your Injuries?
To file a spinal cord injury claim, your attorney will need to establish that the other party's negligence caused your injuries. This may include ruling out other possible causes or providing evidence to link your injuries to the accident or incident in question.
Suppose, for example, that you went for a walk at the beach. On your way down to the beach, you noticed damage to the railing beside the stairs and chose not to hold on to it. At the beach, someone attacked you, resulting in your injuries. In this case, the hotel does not bear liability for your injuries due to its negligence regarding the stairs.
Likewise, if a driver commits an act of negligence near you, including driving while distracted, but does not cause an accident or does not contribute to your injuries, that driver does not share liability for the accident. Suppose, for example, that you notice a distracted driver talking exuberantly on his cell phone while driving. You run into the car in front of you while watching him.
In this case, the distracted driver does not bear legal liability for your accident. On the other hand, if the distracted driver crashes into you, you may have grounds for a spinal cord injury claim.
Linking your injuries to an incident is usually easiest if you went to the hospital immediately following the accident, which is common with significant spinal cord injuries. Paralysis may occur immediately in many of these cases.
Assessing Your Compensation Following a Boston Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injuries often prove very expensive. In the first year after your injury alone, you may have hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses to deal with. At the same time, you still have to manage your normal expenses. Your first-year expenses will likely include hospitalization, inpatient rehabilitation, initial at-home care costs, home renovation for mobility, adaptive equipment, and more. Your ongoing annual care expenses will likely be only a fraction of your first-year costs.
Just how much compensation can you claim for a spinal cord injury, anyway?
A template does not exist that can tell you exactly how much compensation you will get for your injuries, which may depend on the extent of your injuries and the insurance policy that covers the liable party. However, most spinal cord injury victims do ask for the same basic elements of compensation.
Repayment for Your Medical Expenses and Other Financial Losses
As part of your spinal cord injury claim, you can ask for compensation for your medical costs. As a spinal cord injury victim, you may have ongoing medical costs, including the cost of physical and occupational therapy, for the rest of your life.
You can include compensation for:
- Emergency treatment
- Surgeries and procedures
- Durable medical equipment, including your wheelchair, catheter, and mobility and independence aids at home
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Follow-up appointments with your doctor
Keep track of all of your medical bills so that you know how much you have paid over time. An attorney can help you better calculate your medical expenses, including potential future medical expenses, and include them as part of your spinal cord injury claim.
Compensation for Lost Work or Lost Earning Potential
Spinal cord injuries often prevent their victims from working, especially in the early days after the accident. Even if you work in a desk job and have injuries only below the waist, you may miss a lot of time at work in the first year after your accident. In some cases, spinal cord injuries can also prevent the victim from working their previous job altogether. In that case, you can claim lost earning potential as part of your spinal cord injury claim.
Compensation for Pain and Suffering
In addition to the tangible medical expenses and lost income after your accident, you may go through considerable physical pain or emotional anguish. Talk to an attorney about how to include these elements in your spinal cord injury claim. Make sure to discuss how your injuries have affected your plans, your hobbies, and your daily life.
Other Related Expenses
It is also possible to seek additional related expenses in a spinal cord injury case. For example, if you are using a wheelchair, you will likely need to build ramps, widen doorways, renovate a bathroom, install lifts, and more before you can move home from inpatient rehabilitation. These may be recoverable expenses, so save every receipt or bill.
In addition, there may be relatively small expenses you overlooked that add up over time. Imagine having to pay for parking every time you visit the doctor or go to therapy. Some families have to rent an accessible van or invest in other accessible transportation before they can resume their previous activities. None of these expenses would have occurred if they had not suffered injuries because of someone else's negligence.
Frequently Asked Questions About Boston Spinal Cord Injuries
1. Claim Expenses As Part of My Boston Spinal Cord Injury Claim?
As a spinal cord injury victim, you may need to make many changes to your home to make it more accessible.
You may need:
- Specialty equipment around the bed to make mobility easier
- Widened doorways
- Wheelchair ramps
- Grab bars
- Modifications to the kitchen
- A renovated, handicap-friendly bathroom
All those modifications can add up quickly. While you cannot include renovations that you performed out of a desire to simply update your home as part of a spinal cord injury claim, you can include the cost of modifications you needed to maintain independence or improve mobility. Talk to an attorney about how to calculate and include those costs.
2. How Much does It Cost to Hire a Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer in Boston?
Nothing up front.
Hiring a lawyer often sounds intimidatingly expensive for victims of spinal cord injuries and other serious accidents. You may already have a host of expenses to contend with and hiring a spinal cord injury lawyer sounds like it could prove even more expensive. In general, though, personal injury lawyers work based on contingent fees. This includes our attorneys at Dolman Law Group.
Our spinal cord injury lawyers will work with you to provide the legal support you need if we decide to take your claim. We start with a free consultation: a chance to get to know your case, including an assessment of how your injuries impact your life and how much compensation you may deserve. Then, if you have a good case, we will take spinal cord injury cases on a contingent fee basis, which means that you don't have to pay anything up front. Instead, the attorney will accept a portion of your claim as payment.
Instead of asking how much it could cost to hire an attorney after spinal cord injuries, carefully consider how much it could cost not to have an attorney on your side. Many spinal cord injury victims find that just working with an attorney increases the compensation the insurance company or liable party will offer them after their accident. Others find that an attorney can help them better understand their legal rights, including the right to compensation, which will ultimately allow them to recover more of the funds they need.
3. What Should I Do If I Get a Settlement Offer from the Insurance Company Or the Liable Party?
Talk to an attorney before accepting an offer from an insurance company or a big company that accepts liability for your injuries. Often, those offers will not reflect the full compensation you deserve. The insurance company may even pressure you to accept a low settlement offer fast, because you have only a limited time to accept that offer before they withdraw it.
In reality, the compensation you deserve will not change. You may, in fact, need time to fully assess the compensation you deserve for your injuries. If you suffered incomplete spinal cord injuries, for example, you may not know how much your injuries will ultimately impact your life until six months or more after the initial accident. If you suffered complete spinal cord injuries, you cannot predict how complications in the recovery process will ultimately impact your medical expenses. By waiting, you may better assess your ultimate financial needs.
4. If I Suffered a Spinal Cord Injury At Work, Do I Have the Right to File a Boston Spinal Cord Injury Claim?
Most of the time, if you suffer a spinal cord injury at work, including on a construction site, you will start by filing a workers' compensation claim, and we can help you do that.
A workers' compensation claim differs from other spinal cord injury claims in several key ways.
- First, a workers' compensation claim will pay out compensation for your injuries regardless of who caused your accident. If, for example, during your daily job duties as a construction worker, you slipped and fell off the scaffolding, resulting in spinal cord injuries, it does not matter if you slipped due to a lack of safety precautions by the firm or due to your own negligence and decision to disregard safety protocols: you can still file a workers' compensation claim.
- Second, workers' compensation will usually pay your medical bills directly. If you need to file a spinal cord injury claim, you will typically make arrangements to pay your own medical bills, then seek compensation for those bills through a spinal cord injury claim. Workers' compensation will usually determine the providers you can use and will need to approve major care expenses, but will take care of those medical bills for you.
If you suffered injuries at work, workers' compensation often offers the best option for compensation for your injuries, since it can provide you with an ongoing source of income throughout your recovery and ensure that your medical bills get covered. Sometimes, however, even if you suffered your injuries at work, you may have grounds for a workers' compensation claim.
Suppose, for example, that you suffered injuries on a construction site due to the failure of rented equipment. On further examination, your lawyer might uncover the fact that the equipment did not get maintained properly, which led to your injuries. As a result, you may have grounds to file a spinal cord injury claim against that company.
If you do pursue both a workers' compensation claim and a civil claim, your workers' compensation company may require you to repay some of the funds spent on your medical expenses or lost wages out of the amount of that claim.
5. Who Pays My Medical Bills After a Boston Spinal Cord Injury?
If you suffer a spinal cord injury at work and use workers' compensation, your workers' compensation coverage will pay for your medical expenses. On the other hand, if you suffered spinal cord injuries in another situation, from a slip and fall to an auto accident, you may need to make arrangements to pay your medical bills yourself.
Fortunately, you do have options available that will help you meet your financial obligations after your accident. This could include:
Your medical insurance. If you carry medical insurance, it can provide a great deal of financial protection when your medical bills start arriving. Often, your medical insurance company will make arrangements to discount services through specific providers in addition to providing specific coverage for many of your medical expenses. In the first year after your spinal cord injury, you may quickly meet your deductibles and out-of- pocket maximums for the year.
As soon as possible after your accident, contact your medical insurance provider to get a better idea of what coverage you can expect.
You may want to ask about:
- Your out-of-pocket maximum
- Your co-pays and deductibles for any procedures
- In-network providers, for whom your insurance company will usually offer additional assistance and compensation
- Coverage for durable medical equipment, including wheelchairs. Include questions about any specialized wheelchairs or other medical equipment recommended by your doctor, especially if you have an injury high on your spinal cord
- How many occupational therapy visits your insurance company will cover each year
- How many physical therapy visits your insurance company will cover each year
By asking questions about your coverage early after your accident, you can get a better idea of how much your insurance will pay. This may help you make appropriate care decisions based on your available coverage. Make sure you inform your insurance company about how your accident occurred so that your representative can answer questions about your coverage appropriately.
Paying through your spinal cord injury claim. A spinal cord injury claim can help provide the funds you need to cover your medical expenses and other related expenses after spinal cord injuries. Often, as your medical bills mount, you may find yourself struggling to figure out how to pay them.
As you wait for payment from your spinal cord injury claim, your lawyer may issue a letter of protection to your care providers, notifying them of your intent to pay your medical bills once you receive your settlement. This can prevent your medical bills from going to collections and allow you to continue receiving treatment during your recovery.
Making private payment arrangements. Some hospitals, especially university hospitals, will offer income-based payment options which may reduce the financial burden you face due to your injuries. Talk to your medical care providers to learn more about your available options and how they can affect your financial obligations after your accident. We can help you do this.
6. Because of My Spinal Cord Injury, I Cannot Go Back to Work in My Previous Profession. What Legal Obligation Does the Liable Party Bear for That Loss?
As part of your spinal cord injury claim, you can include lost earning potential: your inability to return to work in your previous profession. Spinal cord injury victims must often make immense changes in their lives following their injuries. You may, for example, no longer have the ability to climb around a construction site or manage tasks in a warehouse. In many cases, however, you can adapt your current professional skills to your new limitations, allowing you to continue working.
Claiming lost earning potential as part of your claim can make it easier for you to move forward with your career and your plans following spinal cord injuries.
Funds provided for lost earning potential can make it possible for you to:
- Go back to school
- Obtain additional certifications or skills
- Pay your bills while managing the early stages of your injuries and learning to cope with your new limitations
Talk to your attorney about how much compensation you can expect for lost earning potential after spinal cord injuries.
7. How Long Do I Have to File a Spinal Cord Injury Claim in Boston?
As with any serious injury claim, you have until the statute of limitations runs out to file a claim. Even if you fear the statute of limitations may have run out, however, contact an attorney as soon as possible. Often, an attorney can help find exceptions to the statute of limitations, which may increase the amount of time you have to file a spinal cord injury claim.
8. How Long does It Take to Receive Compensation for a Boston Spinal Cord Injury Claim?
Once you reach a settlement agreement or go to court to receive an award for damages suffered as a result of your injuries, the liable party will need to pay out within 30 days unless your agreement says otherwise.
However, it can take some time to arrive at that agreement after your accident.
- First, your attorney will need time to investigate your claim. To file a spinal cord injury claim for a spinal cord injury, you must identify the liable party. In some cases, your attorney may want to take time to conduct a full investigation, including potentially identifying any parties who may have contributed to the accident.
Next, your attorney may advise waiting until you have a solid idea of your prognosis before you file a spinal cord injury claim. As a spinal cord injury victim, especially if you suffered incomplete spinal cord injury, it may take six months or more before your doctors can predict how much you will eventually recover. During that period, you may also have unexpected medical bills: higher medical bills than anticipated for some procedures, for example, or increased bills due to complications.
Do You Need a Boston Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer?
If you suffered spinal cord injuries due to the negligence of another party, a Boston spinal cord injury attorney can help you understand your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact Dolman Law Group today. Review our case results to see what recoveries we've accomplished for previous clients.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
76 Canal Street, Suite 302
Boston, MA 02114