Doctor pointing to an x-ray scan of the spinal cord

Spinal cord injuries are traumatic events that can drastically alter the course of an individual’s life and can lead to physical, emotional, and financial hardships. Often resulting from accidents, falls, or sports-related incidents, they can leave victims grappling with difficult long-term consequences. In California, specific laws address these injuries. If you or a loved one has been affected, seeking legal assistance is crucial to make sure your rights are protected and you receive the compensation you need. 

Understanding Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries are among the most severe and life-altering traumas an individual can experience. The spinal cord, a bundle of nerves running down the middle of the back, communicates signals between the brain and the rest of the body. When injured, this vital communication pathway can be disrupted, leading to a range of physical and neurological complications.

The consequences of a spinal cord injury depend on the location and severity of the damage. Injuries can be categorized as complete, where there’s a total loss of sensation and muscle function, or incomplete, where some neurological function remains below the level of injury. These injuries can lead to paralysis, loss of sensation, chronic pain, and other debilitating conditions that demand immediate and long-term medical care.

Symptoms and Impacts of Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries manifest in various symptoms, which are primarily influenced by the injury’s location and severity. Initially, individuals might experience pain or an inability to move parts of their body. Numbness or tingling in extremities, difficulties with coordination, or even complete paralysis can occur. Loss of bladder or bowel control is another potential symptom, indicating damage to the spinal cord’s functioning.

Beyond the immediate physical symptoms, spinal cord injuries can have profound long-term impacts on an individual’s life. The potential for paralysis can affect mobility and independence, requiring modifications to one’s living situation and daily routine. Additionally, many victims experience emotional and psychological challenges, including depression, anxiety, and coping with the changes to their bodies and lifestyle. The ripple effect of these injuries extends to relationships, career prospects, and overall quality of life.

California Laws Pertaining to Spinal Cord Injuries

In California, laws related to spinal cord injuries primarily fall under personal injury statutes. If an individual sustains such an injury due to another party’s negligence or intentional actions, they can seek compensation for their damages. The state follows a comparative negligence system, which means that even if the injured party is partly at fault, they can still obtain compensation. However, the amount awarded will be reduced by the percentage of fault of others.

The statute of limitations plays a crucial role in spinal cord injury cases in California. Victims generally have two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit against the responsible party. Missing this deadline could mean losing the right to seek compensation altogether. There are certain exceptions, such as when the injury is discovered later, but these are specific and limited.

When it comes to proving negligence, the burden of proof lies with the victim or their legal representative. They must demonstrate that the responsible party owed them a duty of care, breached that duty, and as a direct result, caused the spinal cord injury. Successfully proving these elements can lead to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other associated damages.

Compensation and Damages

When a spinal cord injury occurs due to another’s negligence or wrongful action, the victim has a legal right to seek compensation for their losses. This compensation can cover medical expenses, both immediate and ongoing, required to treat and manage the injury. Additionally, damages can be sought for lost wages if the victim is unable to work or has reduced earning potential due to the injury. Rehabilitation, therapy, and any necessary modifications to one’s home or vehicle are also areas where compensation can be pursued.

Beyond the tangible costs, spinal cord injury victims may be entitled to damages for pain and suffering. These are non-economic damages that consider the emotional and psychological trauma associated with such life-altering injuries. It can be challenging to put a monetary value on these types of damages, but they acknowledge the profound personal toll that these injuries can take. When seeking compensation, having skilled legal representation is essential to ensure all potential areas of recovery are considered and pursued.

How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

A personal injury lawyer offers invaluable assistance to victims of spinal cord injuries. With their expertise, they can navigate the complexities of California law, ensuring that the injured party’s rights are upheld and that they pursue the maximum compensation possible. Beyond legal knowledge, they provide guidance and support, managing negotiations with insurance companies and taking the case to trial if necessary. By having a seasoned attorney by their side, victims can focus on their recovery while ensuring their legal interests are well-represented.

Get Help If You Have Suffered a Spinal Cord Injury in California

Navigating the aftermath of a spinal cord injury can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to face it alone. The experienced team at Ardalan & Associates is here to guide you, ensuring your rights are protected and you get the compensation you deserve. Reach out to us today and let us be your advocate in this challenging time.

Ardalan & Associates, PLC is a personal injury law firm based in Thousand Oaks, serving all of Southern California including Los Angeles, Ventura, Kern, and Orange Counties. We are committed to helping our clients involved in spinal cord injury accidents seek justice and navigate their legal journey.