Tampa Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer

February 1, 2024 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman

Accidents occur every day throughout the Greater Tampa area. Cars crash into one another. People fall down flights of stairs. Workers sustain injuries on the job. People rarely anticipate that a fall, a vehicle crash, or an on-the-job mishap could cause a life-altering spinal cord injury. As Tampa spinal cord injury attorneys, we have seen the devastating effects of a serious accident firsthand.

Unfortunately, thousands of spinal injuries occur each year. When the force from an accident is strong enough to damage your spine, it's also traumatic enough to cause severe pain, suffering, and even psychological issues. Spinal cord injury recovery is often a long-term process, which requires the tenacity and flexibility to manage high recovery and rehabilitation costs, lost income, temporary and permanent impairments, and drastic lifestyle changes.

Our spinal cord injury lawyers in Tampa have seen these consequences happen to far too many of our clients. When someone else's negligence causes an injury with the power to affect someone so drastically, we make it our mission to ensure they take responsibility for the damages they cause.

The Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys at Dolman Law Group Can Fight For You

Tampa Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer

At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we have dedicated our practice to helping injured clients. Our Tampa personal injury attorneys understand the complex liability and damage issues that arise when an accident is serious enough to cause catastrophic injuries. We've successfully resolved auto and truck liability cases, slip and fall accidents, workplace injuries, and many other situations that have left our clients with unimaginable pain and permanent disabilities.

We work with our clients and their families to determine who is to blame for their injuries, and we identify every potentially negligent entity. We use our firm's resources to prepare our clients' cases to produce the best possible outcomes. We understand that a damage award can't restore our clients' health. However, we work hard to recover damages for our clients because it helps improve their quality of life.

Our Clients Appreciate the Results We Produce

Dolman Law Group has recovered more than $400 million for our injured clients. These results come from comprehensive case investigations, evidence evaluations, aggressive settlement efforts, and extensive trial skills. We have built a solid reputation with insurance companies, self-insured corporations, defense attorneys, and judges who know we will fight for what's fair and not back down.

When possible, we try to negotiate settlements for our clients. We also resolve cases through facilitated negotiation during mediation and arbitration. When litigation is the best alternative, we are prepared to present our evidence to a judge or jury.

As each case is different, we can't guarantee a specific outcome. However, our spinal cord injury attorneys promise to put forth our best effort for each client. We believe that our case results demonstrate our commitment.

  • Semi-truck accident, $3.2 million settlement: Our client sustained a brain injury when a tractor-trailer caused an accident. We settled the case during a pre-trial mediation.
  • Semi-truck accident, $1.75 million settlement: Our client sustained a torn rotator cuff and a mild traumatic brain injury in a tractor-trailer accident. We negotiated a fair settlement after the defendants attempted low-dollar negotiations directly with our client.
  • Auto accident: $1.58 million verdict: We negotiated a fair settlement for our client's two herniated spinal discs. The responsible parties previously offered an inadequate amount because our client had prior injuries.

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What Is a Spinal Cord Injury?

Spinal cord injuries occur when a trauma damages or severs the spinal cord. This sometimes happens when an accidental or intentional act fractures, crushes, compresses, or causes other serious damage to one or more vertebrae. Bone and disc fragments and other displaced tissue can damage the spinal column and destroy nerve extensions. Paralysis and loss of function can also occur when spinal cord damage prevents the nerve extensions from carrying signals between the brain and the rest of the body.

A spinal injury reduces or destroys a person's functional abilities at or below the location of the damage and sometimes internally. Spinal cord injury victims may lose most functioning ability when the damage is located high on the spine and affects the cervical vertebrae in the neck.

While there are limited spinal cord injury treatment options, The National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Strokes explains that improved emergency care and aggressive treatment sometimes minimize damage and restore limited function. For example:

  • If administered within eight hours of an injury, the steroid drug methylprednisolone “appears” to reduce nerve cell damage.
  • Respiratory support helps patients with severe cervical damage.
  • Electrical nerve stimulation “may” restore limited bladder, breathing, limb movement, and other functions.

Spinal Injury Classifications

The spinal cord carries messages from the brain to the rest of the body and controls movement and function. Contrary to popular belief, a spine injury rarely involves a severed cord (complete spinal cord injury). Instead, most individuals with spinal injuries have a cord that is intact but damaged (incomplete spinal cord injury).

Medical professionals describe a spinal cord injury type based on the degree of damage. They assess the injured person's impairment category based on damage location and severity and loss of function:

Injury Type

  • Incomplete spinal cord injuries: The trauma causes damage but doesn't sever the spinal cord. The loss of function and sensation vary.
  • Complete spinal cord injuries: The trauma completely severs the cord at the damaged location. The affected person retains no sensation or motor function at or below the injury site.

Impairment Categories For Spinal Injuries

  • Tetraplegia (quadriplegia): Functional and sensation losses beginning at the upper spinal spine and downward. Quadriplegia often includes some degree of paralysis or functional losses in the upper body, all limbs, and in some internal organs.
  • Paraplegia: Paralysis and loss of function affect the legs, lower body, and some internal organs.
  • Triplegia: Paralysis and loss of function involving three limbs. Illnesses and medical conditions often cause Triplegia.

In addition to evidence from your medical records and other documentation that supports your claim, our spinal cord injury attorneys are able to defer to medical experts who can accurately assess the extent of your injury.

How Can a Spinal Cord Injury Occur?

The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCIS) has tracked SCI patients since the early 1970s. Based on their research, they project that an estimated 17,730 persons sustain new spinal cord injuries each year. The NSCIS further estimates that there are approximately 291,000 persons in the US living with an SCI.

Common Causes of SCI Our Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys Handle

While any form of severe impact to the back and neck could cause damage to the spinal cord, here are some of the most common causes of spinal cord injuries we see:

  • Vehicle crashes, 42.04 percent
  • Falls, 22.86 percent
  • Violence (primarily gunshot wounds), 16.97 percent
  • Sports, 10.01 percent
  • Medical/surgical complications, 2.88 percent
  • Other, 5.24 percent

Alcohol use is a factor in approximately one-quarter of all spinal cord injuries.

Spinal Cord Injuries Change Everything

A spinal cord injury is considered catastrophic because it's usually fatal or disabling. As with most catastrophic injuries, spinal injuries affect every facet of the injured person's life. Emergency treatment is usually just the beginning of their recovery and rehabilitation efforts.

Accident victims must adjust to a new life as long-term patients. Even after they reach maximum recovery, their rehabilitation regimens often continue indefinitely. The Model Systems Translation Center provides online resources for SCI patients and their families. Their website also provides insight into the tough path SCI patients often follow.

  • Inpatient rehabilitation: SCI patients begin rehabilitation while still hospitalized. Before re-entering their home environments, they must develop new skills to make it easier to adapt to their new circumstances. Patients often make multiple adjustments that range from managing their bowels and bladders to reestablishing the confidence to live independently.
  • Outpatient rehabilitation: Outside of the hospital, spinal injury patients need continued therapy and rehabilitation. It helps them develop and sustain physical strengths and improve newly developed abilities.
  • Driving: Despite disabilities, many SCI patients regain their driving capabilities. A doctor or specialist in driving rehabilitation must assess their vision, strength, cognitive and other abilities. Depending on their disabilities, a returning driver often requires a vehicle with assistive devices and wheelchair access. The Florida Health Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Program helps SCI patients with assistive technologies, vehicle modifications, and other services.
  • Personal relationships: Changing abilities and health concerns often trigger shifts in personal and family relationships. Some SCI patients struggle with responsibilities, physical intimacies, parenting duties, and other aspects of their lives they once took for granted.
  • Reemployment: New disabilities often make it difficult for SCI patients to return to their prior jobs or careers. The Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation provides programs that help newly disabled people find and keep gainful employment.

Who Can Be Held Liable For My Spinal Cord Injury?

Liability refers to an individual's legal responsibility for the damages incurred in an accident. If your accident was caused by someone else's negligence, recklessness, or intentional acts, then that person or entity is liable. Some examples of liable parties in accidents that result in spinal cord injuries include:

  • A distracted driver who rear-ends another vehicle and causes the driver of that vehicle to suffer a spinal cord injury.
  • The owner of a home or shop where an invited guest experienced a fall that resulted in a spinal cord injury.
  • An individual who assaults a person during a robbery, resulting in that person suffering an injury to their spinal cord.
  • The owner of an amusement park where an individual suffered a spinal cord injury on a park ride.
  • The maker of a defective auto part that resulted in an accident and caused an individual to suffer a spinal cord injury.

Dedicated spinal cord injury attorneys will identify the liable parties in your case and the insurance resources that the liable party has available to compensate you.

Which Situations Can Lead to Spinal Cord Injuries?

Tampa Spinal Cord Injury Attorney

Most spinal cord injuries occur due to vehicle accidents and falls. People also sustain SCIs while participating in many other everyday activities. Liability in a spinal cord injury lawsuit depends on the responsible party's actions before the occurrence, the accident location, and the circumstances. Accidents often involve more than one negligent party.

  • Auto accident: Vehicle operators and owners are responsible for negligent actions behind the wheel. An owner who entrusts a vehicle to a driver, knowing they have a bad driving history, may also be liable for the accident. An SCI injury meets Florida's Personal Injury Protection tort threshold, so an injured person would have an immediate right to file a claim for damages or a lawsuit against the at-fault party.
  • Commercial truck accidents: When a commercial driver is operating a truck within the scope of his employment, his employer may also be held vicariously liable for his actions. Other responsible parties include the owner of the vehicle, someone who negligently maintains or repairs the vehicle, a manufacturer that sold a defective vehicle or component, or a loading contractor if a load shift or other load-related problem caused or contributed to an accident.
  • Falls: Property owners are liable for safety and security issues on their property. If a commercial property owner subcontracts the maintenance, security, construction, and other property-related duties, the subcontractors can share liability. A property owner's negligence is based on the injured person's status on the premises. Negligence is sometimes based on prior notice of a security or safety hazard.
  • Violent acts: Commercial property owners may share liability for violent acts if they had notice of a security or safety concern and failed to address it. Security and management subcontractors may share the owner's liability.
  • Sports: When children sustain sports-related SCIs, coaches, trainers, and team-sponsoring schools and organizations could share liability for their injuries. Equipment manufacturers might share liability for adult and child injuries attributable to defective or inadequate equipment.
  • Work-related incidents: Employees can sustain spinal injuries in vehicle accidents, construction accidents, falls from elevated work areas, and other adverse events. An employer may only owe worker's compensation benefits. An injured employee may still recover damages from a non-coworker, subcontractor, other individuals, and other businesses.
  • Medical accidents: Medical professionals may be held responsible for an SCI if their treatment fails to meet the appropriate standard of care.

A skilled spinal cord injury lawyer can help determine who may be liabile for your injuries and help you pursue compensation through the appropriate means depending on your circumstances.

Which Damages Can Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys Recover for You?

Economic Damages

Your personal injury claim should include economic damages based on your out-of-pocket costs. A settlement should consider past and future costs in determining the full value of your claim. Recoverable economic damages include:

  • Current and future lost income
  • Diminished earning capacity
  • Hospital and doctor bills
  • Outstanding medical bills related to your injury
  • Medication costs
  • Prosthetics, mobility devices, and accessibility structures
  • Therapy costs
  • Medical transportation
  • Personal care
  • Household replacement services
  • Funeral and burial expenses

General Damages

General damages place a monetary value on your emotional, psychological, social, and lifestyle losses. Values are often difficult to assess, as they are based largely on your subjective concerns. General damages in a spinal cord injury case often include:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Anxiety and emotional distress
  • Diminished spousal and family relationships
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Anger and depression
  • Loss of bodily functions

Punitive Damages

Florida law allows injured plaintiffs to request punitive damages in certain circumstances. A plaintiff must produce clear and convincing evidence of the defendant's “…intentional misconduct or gross negligence.”

An experienced personal injury attorney will ensure that all your losses are accounted for in full to negotiate the highest possible settlement.

How Do Insurance Companies Try to Avoid Paying Your Damages?

A spinal cord injury claim usually has a significant settlement value. Responsible parties sometimes use aggressive negotiation and defense strategies to minimize their ultimate payout.

Unreasonable Negotiation Tactics

Defendants, their insurers, and defense attorneys often rely on a plaintiff's case preparation problems to motivate a low settlement agreement. They realize that some law firms don't have the experience or the resources to present a comprehensive case. They must consider trial costs versus the settlement potential. This sometimes pushes injured people to accept a low offer instead of waiting for a better award at trial.

Pushing a Case Toward Trial

Defendants and their insurance companies continue their cost vs. benefit strategy when lowball negotiations stall. When they can't motivate a plaintiff to accept a low offer, they initiate depositions, interrogatories, document production requests, and other costly discoveries. This strategy sometimes forces plaintiffs to reconsider previous settlement offers in light of ongoing litigation and potential trial costs.

Courtroom Defense Strategies

Instead of negotiating a fair settlement, defendants sometimes allow a case to go to trial. They plead defenses that they hope will help them avoid or reduce the damages they must pay.

  • No negligence: A defendant refuses to acknowledge any wrongdoing. Plaintiffs have the burden of proving that the defendant was negligent.
  • Assumption of risk: Property owner defendants often rely on an assumption of risk defense. They assert that an injured plaintiff accepted the risks when they chose to enter the property.
  • Trespasser: A property owner's liability is based on the injured person's status on the property at the time of injury. If the owner proves that the plaintiff was trespassing when they sustained an injury, the only duty they owed the plaintiff was not to intentionally harm them.
  • No defect: A manufacturer may avoid paying damages if the plaintiffs cannot prove that a defective product or component caused an injury. This defense is sometimes relevant to vehicle accidents or on-the-job injuries involving allegedly defective industrial equipment.
  • Damages: Defendants try to avoid paying damages by producing evidence that the plaintiff's injuries or disabilities aren't as serious as alleged. They sometimes claim that the injuries occurred elsewhere.

Our Tampa spinal cord injury attorneys have always battled traditional defendant, insurer, and defense attorney strategies with strategies of our own. Our law firm examines and evaluates the evidence for every injury claim. We rely on our experience and our firm's resources to push back against unfair negotiation and defense tactics. We always prepare our cases to produce the best outcomes for our clients.

Tampa Spinal Cord Injury FAQs

Tampa Spinal Cord Injury FAQ

Sometimes, common, everyday activities around Tampa can lead to serious injuries, including spinal cord injuries. Spinal cord injuries are among the most serious injuries that a person can incur, often resulting in a lifetime of medical treatments.

If you have suffered a spinal cord injury in Tampa due to an accident that was caused by someone else, Florida law allows you to recover injury-related damages through a personal injury claim or lawsuit.

Experiencing a spinal cord injury can be a frightening and confusing time, filled with questions. Here are some of the most frequent questions we are asked about spinal cord injury lawsuits from Tampa clients.

How common are spinal cord injuries?

Unfortunately, spinal cord injuries are not that unusual. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, as many as 450,000 people in the United States are currently living with a spinal cord injury, with around 17,000 new spinal cord injuries occurring in this country each year.

Who is most likely to suffer from a spinal cord injury?

More than half of all new spinal cord injuries occur in people who are between the ages of 16-30. 80 percent of those cases involve males.

Will a spinal cord injury reduce my life expectancy?

A 50-year study of individuals with spinal cord injuries revealed that slightly over 8 percent of those suffering from tetraplegia—which is a loss of sensation and function in the arms, legs, torso, chest, and pelvis—died within a year after the injury, along with around 4 percent of those with paraplegia. Paraplegia is the loss of function in the legs, feet, and pelvis; 47 percent of patients with tetraplegia and 62 percent of patients with paraplegia survived 40 years after their injury.

If your doctor believes your life expectancy will be reduced as a result of your spinal injury, we may be able to request legal damages for this potential loss.

How much does it cost to treat a spinal cord injury?

The costs of treating a spinal cord injury vary, depending on the severity of the injury. It is estimated that the price tag for medical treatment in the first year after the injury will be between $320,000 and $985,000. These costs can total as much as $5 million over the course of the individual's lifetime.

What if my PIP coverage isn't enough to pay for medical expenses related to my spinal cord injury?

Tampa drivers are required by state law to obtain a personal injury protection (PIP) policy upon registering their vehicles. The required amount of coverage for this policy must be at least $10,000. When a person is injured in a motor vehicle accident in Florida, this policy can provide compensation for some medical expenses and lost wages up to the policy limit.

Because the treatment of a spinal cord injury is so complex, this amount of money likely will not make much of a dent in medical expenses incurred by a spinal cord injury and will not provide any compensation for the extreme impacts that this type of injury has on the sufferer's life. As a result, the injured individual is eligible to recover damages from the liable party through a personal injury lawsuit. In Florida, people generally have two years from the date of the injury to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Do I need an attorney to pursue compensation for damages related to my spinal cord injury?

It's a wise idea. Spinal cord injuries are severe, often resulting in life-changing impacts and medical expenses related to the frequent complications that arise with this type of injury.

If your injury was the result of someone else's actions, an experienced spinal cord injury attorney can provide services to help you obtain the compensation you need to face the long-term consequences of this type of injury. It's your attorney's job to help you recover the funds you need following a spinal cord injury; it's your job to get better.

Trust the Tampa Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys at Dolman Law Group

If you or your loved one sustained a spinal cord injury due to someone else's negligence, we want to help you protect your legal and financial rights.

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, has convenient offices along both Florida coasts. We've recovered millions of dollars for our injured clients, and we are here to help you. Call us at (813) 212-8509 or complete our contact form online for a free consultation.

Tampa Office
3715 W. Horatio Street, Suite G, Tampa, FL 33609
Phone: (813) 212-8509


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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