New Jersey Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys
Every year, an estimated 17,810 new spinal cord injuries take place. Many of these injuries occur in car crashes. Being in a car accident is terrifying—learning you may lose the use of a limb or other body function because of an accident compounds the terror.
Since the average age of a spinal cord injury victim is over the age of 45, we know their lives are irreparably changed following such an injury. The “new” normal in most cases is not anywhere near what their lives were before suffering a spinal cord injury.
If you or a loved one suffered a spinal cord injury in a truck accident or a car accident, or any other type of accident, you should speak with a New Jersey spinal cord injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact us at Jacoby & Meyers LLP today.
New Jersey Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys Can Be Your Best Advocate
Remember, when you attempt to get a settlement from your insurance company, they might hope that you do not know what rights and options you have. This may encourage them to take advantage of your lack of knowledge, and they might attempt to settle for the least amount possible. Spinal cord injury victims generally are facing significant financial challenges.
These challenges are often life-long and are caused by numerous factors including an inability to return to their prior work, the potential need for long-term medical care, and the possibility the victim may need at-home care. Working with an experienced New Jersey spinal cord injury lawyer helps victims and their families get the compensation they deserve.
Table of Contents
- Types and Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries in New Jersey
- Understanding Levels of Spinal Cord Injury
- Establishing Liability for New Jersey Spinal Cord Injuries
- How to Calculate Damages Following New Jersey Spinal Cord Injuries
- Holding an Insurance Company Accountable After a New Jersey Spinal Cord Injury
- Costs Associated With New Jersey Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuits
- New Jersey Spinal Cord Injury FAQs
Types and Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries in New Jersey
There are two primary types of injury a victim of a spinal cord injury could face—complete and incomplete.
Here is what each means:
- Incomplete – This means there is partial damage. Victims may have impaired movement and limited feeling depending on where on the spinal cord the injury occurred and how serious the injury is. Some victims may suffer more serious setbacks depending on their medical history and their health before the accident.
- Complete – When a victim suffers irreparable damage, it is known as complete injury. Tetraplegia and paraplegia are common outcomes. Tetraplegia is characterized as a form of paralysis that impairs respiratory functions. Paraplegia is most common after auto accidents. Rehabilitation is a long-term process.
Motor vehicle accident survivors are at great risk for spinal cord injuries. Pedestrians, passengers, motorcycle, or bicycle operators all face this risk when they are involved in a catastrophic injury. Because of the nature of these injuries, victims will often be hospitalized for several days, and up to weeks following a spinal cord injury.
Understanding Levels of Spinal Cord Injury
The spinal cord is divided into sections. Any section which suffers damage can cause problems.
Some of the potential areas for spinal cord injury include:
- High-cervical nerves – These injuries are the most difficult to recover from since they can cause paralysis. Victims of these injuries often require round-the-clock care and may not recover from the damage they suffer following a car accident.
- Low-cervical nerves – Victims may lose some use of one or more of their arms or hands if a serious accident damages these nerves.
- Upper thoracic nerves – A thoracic nerve injury may paralyze the legs, leaving survivors wheelchair-bound.
- Lower thoracic nerves – Anytime a victim suffers a lower thoracic injury they could be confined to a wheelchair and may also lose control of their bladder and bowels.
- Lumbar nerves – Victims may have limited use of their legs but with the proper bracing may not require a wheelchair.
- Sacral nerves – Most victims of these types of injuries will have control of their legs but may require assistance in the form of braces to walk properly. Long-term rehabilitation is a possibility.
Establishing Liability for New Jersey Spinal Cord Injuries
Car accident victims are primarily concerned about their recovery. Chances are if you have suffered a spinal cord injury you may be uncertain as to what rights you have when someone else is responsible for the accident. This is when it is helpful to know about liability in New Jersey car accident cases.
The victim of an accident must have suffered a serious injury, since New Jersey follows a no fault rule when it comes to auto insurance. This means as a victim, you will file a claim with your own insurance company following an accident. Victims have the right to file lawsuits against the person responsible for the accident in the event they have suffered an injury that results in permanent damage—which could be applicable in most cases of spinal cord injuries.
Establishing liability can be extremely complicated. For example, a drunk driver who runs a red light and strikes your car is more likely to present a clear and compelling example of liability. What if a restaurant or nightclub overserved the driver, however? Suddenly, you have a more complex case requiring investigations of liability.
For example, a truck driver may be the primary cause of an accident because they were speeding before they struck your vehicle. However, their employer may have failed to professionally train them or allowed or required them to drive too long. You could have suffered an injury because the truck tipped due to improper loading. All of these situations could result in a third-party liability claim.
This is why you must speak with a lawyer who has handled New Jersey spinal cord injury cases. Contact Jacoby & Meyers LLP today.
How to Calculate Damages Following New Jersey Spinal Cord Injuries
Victims of spinal cord injuries rarely know what damages they may request.
Here are some of the potential damages that victims may seek:
- Current wages lost – While you are out of work recovering from a spinal cord injury, you may be collecting short or long-term disability. However, this is likely less than your normal wages. You may be entitled to the amount between the disability and your usual wages.
- Estimated future wage loss – Working with your medical team, your lawyer can help determine whether you will return to full employment. If you can’t return to full employment or must take on a different role, you may file for damages for the difference in the income you would have earned.
- Medical expenses – Those who suffer a spinal cord injury can expect to incur significant medical expenses. In addition to immediate treatment which may include hospitalization, victims may also require extensive rehabilitation which can be costly. Specialized tests, medical equipment, and day-to-day nursing care either in a facility or at home may be required. In these cases, victims may request they be reimbursed for any out-of-pocket costs associated with their care.
- Pain and suffering – In many instances a victim may include pain and suffering in their damages claim.
You may have other options for collecting damages following a spinal cord injury. Your legal counsel can help you determine what losses you have suffered and help you understand what damages you may be entitled to claim. Any time you are injured in an accident, you need to know your legal rights and options. Set up a free consultation at Jacoby & Meyers LLP to get started.
Holding an Insurance Company Accountable After a New Jersey Spinal Cord Injury
Like any business group, insurance company executives have a plan which involves keeping their costs down. This is to be expected. However, when you are the victim of an accident and you have suffered a spinal cord injury, you want someone to be held accountable for your injury. You also want to make sure your family does not suffer financially because of the actions of another party.
Holding insurers accountable can be challenging. Insurance companies often have big-name law firms working on their side helping them avoid paying the full amount a claim is worth in any legal way. In fact, victims of spinal cord injuries are often surprised at how quickly an insurer comes back to them offering a settlement. Do not let this fool you. There is often a reason behind this quick offer: Insurance companies want to pay you the least possible amount, and they know if they make a quick offer they will be off the hook for future liability.
Victims who suffer a spinal cord injury may not know for several months what the extent of their financial losses will be due to numerous factors. Since everyone has a different recovery period, there is no “standard” per se. Therefore, insurers know if they can get you to settle early, they might save themselves hundreds and thousands of dollars in medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.
This is another reason why victims should never agree to an early settlement and speak with a New Jersey spinal cord injury lawyer to review any settlement offer. In nearly all cases where a settlement is offered, insurers include a clause that eliminates their liability for any future expenses.
Stop and consider this: If you accept an offer made three months after an accident and you learn the following month you require an additional surgical procedure, or additional rehabilitation therapy, the insurance company may not have to cover those costs. This could amount to thousands of dollars you would have to pay out of pocket—while you are out of work. Contact us immediately if you are offered a settlement following a spinal cord injury. Jacoby & Meyers LLP is here to help.
Costs Associated With New Jersey Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuits
Naturally, you are concerned about your financial status if you are suffering a spinal cord injury. It seems like bills are arriving in your mailbox daily and all you can do is stand by helplessly and hope you can find a way to pay them before your savings completely run out. The last thing you want to consider is taking on an additional financial burden to file a New Jersey spinal cord injury lawsuit. This is especially true because you are aware these types of lawsuits take time to resolve.
You never need to worry about paying a legal fee upfront to have our New Jersey spinal cord injury lawyers take on your case. In fact, a New Jersey spinal cord injury attorney who understands how to successfully negotiate with insurance companies will not cost you any money upfront.
Schedule a free consultation where you can learn your legal rights and options under New Jersey law. This consultation can help an attorney determine the damage you suffered and discuss the challenges you face as a spinal cord injury victim.
Should you decide to hire an attorney to pursue a spinal injury claim, they will typically take the case on a contingency fee basis. What this means is rather than paying an hourly fee for legal advice, you will pay a fixed amount for the legal representation. This fixed amount is based on the amount of settlement the lawyer can secure on your behalf. Speak with an attorney about their fee structure for more information.
All accidents are traumatic, and it is common to be fearful about your future when you have suffered a spinal cord injury. If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury in a New Jersey accident, contact an attorney immediately for help. Contact Jacoby & Meyers LLP today. Make sure you have someone focused on protecting your rights and serving as your advocate while you focus on recovering as well as possible from a spinal cord injury.
New Jersey Spinal Cord Injury FAQs
Any person who has suffered a spinal cord injury, or has had a family member suffer from one, has numerous questions about their recovery and the best way to deal with the party who is responsible for their injury. We will address some of the most common questions victims and their families have asked us. To discuss your specific questions, contact Jacoby & Meyers LLP for answers.
What is a spinal cord injury?
According to The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), an Institute within the National Institutes of Health, spinal cord injuries stem from a traumatic blow to the spine. These injuries may fracture or dislocate vertebrae and damage the spinal cord. Spinal cord injuries can result in pain, bruising, and in some of the worst cases, paralysis.
What are the leading causes of spinal cord injuries in New Jersey?
Studies of spinal cord injury causes have been conducted by the National SCI Statistical Center.
Its most recent data shows:
- Vehicular accidents – The largest percentage of spinal cord injuries stem from an automobile accident, accounting for nearly 40 percent of spinal cord injuries. When someone is involved in an accident, the responsible driver could be held accountable for the injury.
- Falls – Most common in seniors and children, falls result in nearly 32 percent of all spinal cord injuries. These are generally accidental, though could come from a negligent caregiver.
- Acts of violence – Victims of gunshot wounds can suffer a spinal cord injury. In these cases, it is clear the person who wielded a weapon is responsible for the injury. These types of injuries occur in nearly 14 percent of spinal cord injuries.
- Sports injuries – Sports injuries account for approximately 8 percent of spinal cord injuries.
- Medical or surgical mistakes – Slightly more than 4 percent of spinal cord injuries are the result of a medical or surgical mistake.
Nearly 18,000 people suffer a spinal cord injury annually, and this number may be low because it excludes victims who lose their lives at the site of the accident causing their injury.
What are the effects of spinal cord injury on a victim’s body?
The aftereffects of a spinal cord injury will vary widely depending on the extent of the injury. Victims may suffer temporary issues, or in serious spinal cord injuries, permanent ones.
Some potential effects include:
- Spinal shock – This is generally a temporary issue that will resolve itself. However, in the immediate aftermath of a spinal injury, victims will suffer temporary numbness in the area below the site of the injury. Following this phase, victims will likely suffer a degree of pain and stiffness.
- Lower heart rate/blood pressure – Because portions of the brain regulate body functions including heart rate and blood pressure, victims of spinal cord injuries could suffer additional issues because these regulators are not working at maximum capacity.
- Tetraplegia and paraplegia – Paraplegia is a common issue following a spinal cord injury. This condition results in the victim losing movement below the site of a spinal cord injury. This condition may be complete or incomplete depending on the extent of the damage. By most estimates, only about one percent of spinal cord injury victims have regained complete recovery by the time they are discharged from the hospital following an injury. Tetraplegia is, unfortunately, possible as well, and may result in a victim suffering complete paralysis from the neck down.
As you can see, there are varying effects of spinal cord injuries. Victims typically require long-term rehabilitation to recover from their injury. In other cases, the damage is permanent, and the victim will have to live with the effects of their injury for the rest of their lives.
What treatment options are available for New Jersey spinal cord injuries?
Victims may never recover from a spinal cord injury.
When an injury results in only temporary issues, treatment options include:
- Surgery – Victims may undergo surgical procedures to relieve pressure on the spine. This may include removal of fluid, bone fragments, or vertebra depending upon the severity of the injuries.
- Drugs – In some cases, a patient may be given steroid medication to reduce inflammation. There are some indications if administered within eight hours of an injury these drugs may help reduce inflammation and prevent further damage.
- Physical Therapy – Victims may respond well to physical therapy which can help them regain some or all of their mobility, help with speech impairments caused by the spinal cord injury, and strengthen muscles.
These are only some treatment options a doctor may include in a complete plan for a victim of a spinal cord injury. Since each case is different, recovery and rehabilitation plans may vary.
What costs are involved in the treatment of a New Jersey spinal cord injury?
On average, a spinal cord injury will require a victim to spend upwards of 11 days in the hospital. Once discharged, most victims will go to a rehabilitation center where they could spend up to an additional 31 days.
An average hospital stay of three days typically costs approximately $30,000. This means before a victim goes to rehabilitation, the costs could hit $100,000.
During the first year, victims could anticipate treatment costs following a spinal cord injury as high as $800,000; and future years’ costs could exceed $150,000 annually. These costs depend on the level of injury a victim suffers.
It is worth noting that these costs are specifically medical and rehabilitation costs.
Other economic costs are to be expected, including:
- Loss of income – Victims of a spinal cord injury could lose their capacity to earn a living or be forced to take a less lucrative position.
- Home modifications – Some victims’ injuries may necessitate home modifications, including lower countertops, ramps, and safety equipment in bathrooms. These modifications could cost thousands of dollars.
- Mental healthcare – Spinal cord injuries are traumatic. Victims often seek mental health counseling to deal with the sudden disruption to their lives. Over time, victims may require additional mental health treatment due to ongoing issues including depression.
These are only some of the potential costs of a spinal cord injury that victims and their families must deal with. Some victims may require in-home care including nursing and other care which could cost thousands of dollars every month.
Who can be held financially responsible for spinal cord injuries?
The answer to this question depends on how the injury occurred.
Some potential areas of liability related to specific accidents include:
- Injuries caused by a roadway accident – When someone causes a car accident, they can be held financially responsible for any injury which is suffered by a victim. There may be additional responsible parties as well. For example, if a drunk driver caused an accident when a victim suffers a spinal cord injury, they may be held partially responsible.
- Workplace-related injuries – While a New Jersey workplace accident victim may collect workers’ compensation benefits if their injury was caused by a coworker, independent contractor, or other third party, they may also be held financially liable for a spinal cord injury.
- Slip and fall or trip and fall injuries – When someone suffers an injury on the property of another person, the facility owner may be held financially liable for the injuries which are suffered. Premises liability claims are complicated, but you can seek help from a New Jersey premises liability attorney, like those at Jacoby & Meyers LLP.
You might hold other parties accountable. Accidents can involve third parties like rideshare companies, trucking company owners, or medical facilities. When you contact a lawyer to discuss your accident and injuries, they will discuss the potentially liable parties.
How much compensation can a New Jersey spinal cord injury victim expect?
This is perhaps one of the most complicated questions to answer and one which is asked by both victims and their families. The reason this is complicated is because no simple answer exists.
Some factors that play a role in determining how much a New Jersey spinal cord injury lawsuit would seek in damages include:
- Age of the victim – When a person under the age of 30 suffers a spinal cord injury there is an expectation they could live longer than a victim over the age of 50. Therefore, the younger victim would likely lose more in terms of estimated future earnings.
- Pre-accident health – Insurance companies may dive deep into your prior medical history to determine the best way for them to minimize the amount of your claim. Your attorney can fight back to make sure the insurer does not minimize your claim.
- The extent of injuries – The severity of the injury a victim suffers following any type of accident will play a significant role in how much compensation may be awarded.
- Out of pockets costs – Any costs that victims must pay for the treatment or recovery associated with their injury is compensable.
- Future costs of injury – When a victim’s injuries will require future treatment, they have the right to include those costs in a settlement demand.
A New Jersey spinal cord injury lawyer can carefully evaluate your specific case and help determine which damages should be included in a demand to the responsible party’s insurance company. Some cases may involve one insurance company, and other cases may require negotiations with multiple insurers.
Should I negotiate a settlement with the insurance company after a New Jersey spinal cord injury?
Victims or their families should not attempt to negotiate with an insurance company following any type of accident where someone else is at fault. This is especially important in cases involving multiple insurers, because these negotiations quickly grow complicated. Insurance adjusters are committed to saving money for their employers, the insurance company. They have the backing of the legal teams of the firms which employ them. They have a full grasp of the law, and they hope the victim does not have the same level of knowledge.
Should you attempt to negotiate with an insurance company on your own, chances are they might try hard to get you to accept the lowest settlement possible. Additionally, once you accept a settlement, the insurance company asks you to sign a waiver that prohibits you from seeking any future compensation—even when your costs exceed the settlement amount.
Why should I hire a New Jersey spinal cord injury attorney to negotiate with insurers?
Hiring an attorney can provide the victim with several benefits when negotiating with insurance companies.
Some of these may include:
- Experience handling complicated cases – The more complicated your case, the more likely you are to want someone who has experience handling these types of cases.
- Someone to advocate on your behalf – Having someone who is serving as your advocate can be invaluable. Rather than focusing on dealing with insurance companies, you can focus on your health and recovery.
- Access to experts – Because an attorney has access to experts in various fields, you are more likely to get a more accurate settlement demand amount.
These are just a few potential benefits of hiring an attorney to help you following a New Jersey spinal cord injury. Contact Jacoby & Meyers LLP today.
How can I afford a New Jersey spinal injury attorney?
This is a serious concern many victims and their families have following a spinal cord injury. Your medical bills are mounting, you may be depending on your savings to meet your monthly financial obligations, and you are uncertain about when you can return to work. However, you need not be concerned.
Your initial consultation with a New Jersey spinal cord injury attorney, like those at Jacoby & Meyers LLP, is free of charge. During the consultation, you will be asked about your injury and the circumstances surrounding the incident which led to your spinal cord injury. The lawyer you speak with will then make sure you know your rights and can tell you what legal options are available.
Should you decide to hire a New Jersey spinal cord injury lawyer to help you with your spinal injury, you do not have to worry about paying any legal fees upfront. Our New Jersey spinal cord injury attorneys always work on a contingency fee basis, which means unless the attorney obtains a settlement in your case, you will not pay for legal fees. Once a settlement is agreed upon, your attorney fees will be taken out of the settlement amount. Speak with an attorney to learn more about their fee structure.
If you suffered a spinal cord injury, contact a New Jersey spinal cord attorney at Jacoby & Meyers LLP immediately for help. You can also call us at (877) 565-2993 or chat with one of our live representatives for your case evaluation. Your focus should be on your physical recovery. Work with an attorney and refer any calls from insurance adjusters to us.
“I highly recommend hiring Jacoby & Meyers should you ever find yourself injured in an accident, and an individual or company needs to be held accountable for their negligence.” -C.J.