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What is the Average Settlement for a Spinal Injury?

December 10, 2021 By John Torgenson



A spinal cord injury is one of the most devastating effects of an accident that you can suffer. The spinal cord transmits movement messages from your brain to the rest of your body. A spinal cord injury can cost you the ability to move various parts of your body below the point of the damage.

Since spinal cord injuries are so severe, your compensation should be higher. However, it is up to you to know how much you deserve and to fight for the money. An experienced spinal cord injury attorney at Torgenson Law will help you assess your legal options and passionately represent you throughout the process as you seek compensation.

Accidents That Lead to Spinal Cord Damage

Accidents with physical trauma or sudden and violent motion can cause a spinal cord injury. One of the main causes of spinal cord injuries is when broken vertebrae in the neck or back compress or cut the spinal cord. In addition, if your head suddenly snapped forward, like often happens in a car crash or fall, you could also injure your spinal cord. You could suffer physical trauma that can cause this in the following types of incidents:

  • Car accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Slip and falls
  • Physical assaults
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Sports injuries
  • Balcony collapses
  • Swimming pool accidents

No matter what type of accident caused your spinal cord injury, the legal principle at work is always the same. The person or business responsible for your injuries must fully compensate you once you can prove fault.

Common Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injuries

Because of the trauma and swelling, you may not even realize that you have suffered a spinal cord injury at the scene of the accident. It may only be in the days after the accident that you begin to realize that something is wrong. Symptoms of a spinal cord injury include:

  • Extreme back pain
  • Weakness in any part of your body
  • Numbness in your extremities
  • Difficulty with balance
  • Trouble controlling bladder or bowels
  • Respiratory problems

If you notice any of these symptoms, you need immediate medical treatment.

Common Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries vary in severity based on how high up on the spinal cord they occur and the extent of the damage. Generally, there are two types of spinal cord injuries:

  • Complete spinal cord injuries. Your body loses all ability to send messages to the area below where the spinal cord injury has occurred. You would have no feeling or movement in the affected area.
  • Incomplete spinal cord injuries. You would still have some feeling or motion below the affected area. It is more likely that you could have a chance at some degree of recovery from an incomplete spinal cord injury.

Then, the severity depends on the location of the injury to the spinal cord:

  • Injuries that occur lower on the spinal cord that affect only the use of your legs
  • Injuries that occur higher on the spinal cord and affect the use of all four limbs

No matter what type of spinal cord injury you suffer, you are faced with a long road ahead of you. The course of your life would be changed, even if you are eventually able to make a recovery from your injuries. Even incomplete spinal cord injuries could mean a lengthy period of rehabilitation and surgical procedures. You could recover some function, but you may never be the same again.

The Burden of Proof in an Accident Case

Before you can even qualify for a dollar in financial compensation, you must prove that someone else was to blame for the accident. Negligence is the standard that you must meet in every personal injury case. This term has a very specific meaning. The mere fact that an accident happened does not automatically mean that there was negligence involved. Accidents can and do happen. You must show that someone else committed some sort of wrongful action by meeting each of the following elements:

  • The other part owed you the duty of care
  • They failed to uphold that duty by doing something that would be considered unreasonable under the circumstances
  • You suffered an injury
  • You would not have been injured had it not been for the actions or omissions of the other party

You must carry your own burden of proof to qualify for financial compensation. No matter how badly you have been hurt, the standard is always the same. You must prove that someone else was to blame for the accident by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that it is more likely than not that they were responsible for your injuries. The only way that you can meet your burden of proof is by coming forward with physical evidence, such as witness testimony, pictures of the accident scene, and documentary proof of what happened.

Along the way, you may need to overcome attempts to blame you for the accident. The insurance company knows that they could owe you a considerable amount of money, and they may do anything within their own power to get off the hook financially. They know that Arizona law allows your settlement or award to be reduced by the percentage of blame that you bear for the accident, so they will not hesitate to point the finger at you when it is in their interest. Your spinal cord injury lawyer often needs to defend you every bit as much as they try to prove that the other party was to blame for the accident.

Factors That Affect Monetary Damages in Spinal Cord Injury Cases

It is vital that you know the value of your claim or lawsuit before you file it since there is so much money on the line. Your spinal cord injury lawsuit is the one and only chance that you have to receive compensation for what happened. Although your case may be worth millions of dollars, several hundred thousand dollars is not simply a rounding error — it is money that you would need to fund your case and lost wages, perhaps for the rest of your life.

An experienced spinal cord injury lawyer could work with expert witnesses to learn the value of your claim. They would research your own individual situation and extensively analyze your case to learn how much you should seek in a claim or lawsuit.

Your spinal cord injury compensation is dependent on how you have been impacted by the accident.

Many people will search for or ask about the average value of a spinal cord injury settlement. That type of thinking could lead you to a bad path that would disadvantage you throughout the legal process. First, there are many different types of spinal cord injuries that vary in severity. Some types of injuries are worth far more than others because of the effect that they have on you and the rest of your life.

Second, there is no such thing as an “average” claimant. You may be so focused on a number that is a rough aggregate of what other people have received that you do not put the spotlight where it really belongs — on you and your own injuries.

Finally, much depends on whom the defendant is and the amount of insurance coverage they have available to pay for your injuries. If you are able to sue a corporate defendant, they would have far more coverage and the assets available to pay for a judgment should you win one in court.

Factors That Increase the Value of a Spinal Cord Injury Claim

Of course, the more severe the spinal cord injury you have suffered, the more compensation you may receive. Medical bills are one of the main drivers of your spinal cord injury compensation. There are some estimates that the most serious spinal cord injuries have lifetime medical costs that can top $5 million. In the first year alone, you may incur between $400,000 to $1,000,000 in medical costs.

Your pain and suffering damages are often keyed to your medical costs. Juries and insurance companies often use the multiplier method to calculate your damages. They will apply a number to your medical costs based on the severity of your injuries. If you have suffered a severe spinal cord injury, it is not uncommon for the multiplier to be as high as five. Your pain and suffering could be considerable, especially when your physical injuries have also led to depression and emotional distress.

Your continued ability (or inability) to work would also determine how much you are to be paid. Most spinal cord injury victims are unable to work while they are impacted by their condition. You are entitled to be paid for the full extent of your lost wages, both the money that you have not earned and will not earn in the future. If you can no longer do the same work that you did before your injury, you can be compensated for the reduction in your earnings capacity.

If your spinal cord injury is serious enough, you may also need care to assist you with the activities of daily life. This care could be for a few hours a day. If you are seriously injured, you may even need around-the-clock care. Then, you could also require extensive retrofitting of your home and vehicle, along with expensive medical equipment.

Further, if there is some hope for recovery, your settlement may also include money to pay for treatment and procedures that could improve your condition. There are numerous new and experimental treatments that could improve your life, but these can cost a considerable amount of money.

Factors That Decrease The Value of a Spinal Cord Injury Claim

There are some factors that could decrease the value of your claim. Your compensation is generally tied to the severity of your injuries and your remaining functions. You are paid for the road ahead of you that you have. Spinal cord injuries always mean a difficult road, but some paths are even harder than others.

The following could lead to a lesser settlement check or award:

  • Still retaining some movement in the affected areas
  • Being able to work to an extent
  • The possibility that you could make more of a recovery
  • The insurance company’s disputing the reasonableness or necessity of some of the damages that you claim

Remember that the insurance company is going to downplay your injuries to the fullest extent possible. They may paint a rosy picture than the one that you actually face. Your attorney’s job is to make sure that your story is told and that your specific situation is considered.

How To Secure the Compensation You Deserve for Your Spinal Cord Injury

It is crucial to get every dollar you deserve in a spinal cord injury case. You will need this money in the future. The insurance company is never going to offer you everything upfront and at once unless it is extremely evident that your case is worth the policy limit. More likely, you will have to negotiate and fight to get a reasonable settlement for your injuries.

Remember that you are never obligated to accept what the insurance company offers you in a settlement. Once you prove that someone else was responsible for your injuries, you have the legal right to full compensation. The insurance company does not have the power to dictate anything to you or force you to sign a settlement agreement. If the insurance company does not pay you fully, you always have the option to take your case to court, and the jury will award you damages.

How Much Will a Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Cost Me?

The good news is that you do not have to pay anything upfront to hire a lawyer for your spinal cord injury case. Of course, attorneys do not work for free. Your attorney is paid, but only after you win your case by receiving a settlement check or an award from the jury. If you do not win your case, you do not have to pay your lawyer anything for their time and services. You do not ever have to pay your lawyer anything from your own pocket. This means you are able to conserve your own resources until you receive a settlement or award.

Contact an Arizona Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Today

To learn more about your legal rights and the average settlement for a spinal injury, contact an experienced personal injury attorney at Torgenson Law today. We can review your case during your free initial consultation and discuss your potential legal path forward. Our team has a demonstrated track record of success over our two decades in existence, relentlessly fighting for the rights of accident victims. To speak with a lawyer about your case, you can contact us online, or you can call us today at 602-726-0747.

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John Torgenson

John Torgenson is a highly experienced personal injury lawyer with over 20 years of practice in Arizona. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah and his Juris Doctor from Notre Dame. John has a proven track record of securing substantial verdicts and settlements, including an $8.25 million recovery for a gunshot injury victim. His expertise has earned him AVVO ratings and recognition as a Super Lawyer.

John is also a sought-after lecturer on personal injury law, sharing his extensive knowledge with peers and aspiring attorneys. Beyond his legal practice, John is an avid golfer and actively supports organizations like the Military Assistance Mission, Arizona School for the Arts, Page Balloon Regatta, University of Arizona Foundation, Junior Achievement of Arizona, and the Tim Huff Pro Bono Golf Classic.

Passionate about advocating for injury victims, John dedicates his career to battling insurance companies and corporate interests, ensuring that the rights of those who are hurt are vigorously defended.