If you’re in a serious car accident in South Florida resulting in damage to the spinal cord or paralysis, a consult with a spinal cord injury attorney is imperative. Depending on the circumstances, you may be have numerous options for compensation. Given the disabling and permanent nature of such injuries, full and fair damages recovery is critically important. Sometimes, all it takes is filing a claim, such as with the state’s brain and spinal cord injury program, as outlined in F.S. 381.76. In other cases, it may unfortunately require a drawn-out spinal cord injury lawsuit. Such claims may still resolve in settlement prior to trial, but a dedicated spinal cord injury lawyer may be needed to help ensure the compensation you get is complete and equitable.
In addition to incurring much higher medical bills than the average Broward County car accident victim, those with spinal cord injuries are much more likely to require ongoing physical rehabilitation to cope with their new impairments. Many tend to find it extremely challenging if not impossible to return to their previous line of work. Many a Florida spinal cord injury plaintiff has asserted they weren’t able to return to work at all. Most patients need some form of ongoing psychological therapy to mentally and emotionally process the changes this will mean for their lives.
The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center reports annually yearly expenses just for health care for an average 25-year-old with paraplegia is about $2.3 million. This does not include indirect losses in wages, fringe benefits and productivity, which vary depending on one’s neurological impairment, pre-injury employment history and education, which average out to an additional $72,000 a year.
Your spinal cord injury attorney in Fort Lauderdale may also make it a point to underscore in your spinal cord injury lawsuit that one’s life expectancy is often substantially decreased, particularly the less mobility they sustain and especially in cases where one is dependent on ventilation.
South Florida Spinal Cord Injury Attorney Explains Prevalence and Severity
Vehicle crashes are the No. 1 cause of new spinal cord injuries in the U.S., according to the NSCISC.
An injury of the spinal cord occurs when this vital central nervous system component sustains some type of trauma. In a crash, this damage can result from compression of the vertebrae, laceration from bone fragments or swelling after the accident. Anytime the spinal cord sustains injury, there is the risk of temporary or permanent disruption of transmissions to and from the brain and rest of the body. This can make it difficult if not impossible for the brain to communicate and receive vital information to important organs and limbs. Depending on the location and severity of a spinal cord injury, movement can be widely and permanently impaired or lost.
Although a fair number of folks who suffer spinal cord injuries do recover some of that function within the first six months, potential for substantial recovery declines dramatically after that.
A few years ago, the Florida Department of Health, Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Program, the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology and the FAAST Spinal Cord Injury Resource Center teamed up to conduct a Florida spinal cord injury victim needs assessment. Discovering spinal cord injury prevalence statistics fairly unreliable, researchers scaled based on national models (which indicate 12,000 new cases in the U.S. each year) and figured there are roughly 761 new cases of spinal cord injury in Florida annually.
What to Expect in Florida Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit
Although Florida is a no-fault state for auto insurance, meaning the first and sometimes only remedy for recovering damages for car accident injuries, those who suffer spinal cord injuries virtually all meet the “serious injury threshold,” as outlined in F.S. 627.737, required to step outside the no-fault system and pursue a bodily injury liability or wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault driver and negligent third parties.
So you have the option not only of PIP (personal injury protection) benefits – up to $10,000 – you also have the limits of defendant driver’s bodily injury liability auto insurance limit and (if they have it) umbrella insurance coverage. If the driver is not insured or does not have enough to cover your injuries (a likely scenario), you may file a claim with your own uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage carrier – with your coverage amount equal to your own bodily injury liability insurance cap. Liability of third parties should not be overlooked. These might include product liability lawsuits against vehicle manufacturers, medical negligence claims against first responders, nurses or physicians whose actions or omissions caused or exacerbated crash-related spinal injuries or anyone else who may have contributed to the crash and your resulting injuries.
Finally, you need to make sure your spinal cord injury attorney examines whether claimant is eligible for state services via referral to the central registry. Eligibility for services requires one is a legal resident of the state, has sustained a spinal cord injury, is medically stable and reasonably expected to achieve reintegration into the community through services provided.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Facts and Figures at a Glance, 2016 Fact Sheet, National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center
More Blog Entries:
Florida Crash Lawyers Critical in Collisions With Multiple Insurers, Sept. 29, 2018, Fort Lauderdale Spinal Cord Injury Attorney Blog