The spinal cord performs the critical function of relaying messages between your brain and various body organs. It controls everything from your ability to move your arms and legs to basic functions like breathing and heart rate. When the spinal cord gets injured in any way, it can mean losing your full or partial ability to walk, move, or even breathe on your own.
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, about 17,730 new spinal cord injuries occur in the U.S. every year, and the lifetime costs for care can exceed $1 million for severe cases.
Getting the right treatment fast is obviously important. However, medical care is not cheap in Illinois. Moreover, your financial challenges may increase with prolonged pain and suffering and lost wages due to inability to work. At Mike Agruss Law, our personal injury attorneys can help you recover maximum compensation if you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence.
With our seasoned spinal cord injuries lawyers on your side, you only need to think about your recovery – and not worry about paying for your health costs or rehabilitation. Reach out to us for a free, no-obligation consultation today.
What Is a Spinal Injury?
A spine injury refers to any damage to the spinal cord that disrupts the signals between the brain and the body. Think of it like a cut in a power cable; the electricity cannot flow properly.
The human spinal cord is a bundle of nerves running down the middle of your back, and it is protected by a spinal column of bones (the vertebrae). When these nerves get damaged, either by being compressed, stretched, or severed, it wrecks the entire communication system. Loss of movement, feeling, and control over most body functions below the level of the back injury is a common sign.
Common Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
Just like there are different types of bone fractures (compound, transverse, oblique), there are many types of spinal injuries. Each one needs to be treated in a different way, but all of them are serious.
Complete spinal cord injury
This is the type of catastrophic injury where the spine is fully severed or wounded, which cuts off all communication between the brain and the body below the injury point. The result is total paralysis below the injured area.
Incomplete spinal cord injury
Here, the spine is partially damaged. Some signals can still get through, so you might have some movement or feeling below the injury.
This affects the lower part of your body, including your legs. Paraplegia generally occurs after the lower part of the spinal cord gets injured.
Also known as tetraplegia, this affects both your arms and legs. It’s usually the result of an injury to the upper part of the spinal cord, near the neck. Christopher Reeve, best known for bringing Superman to life on the big screen, suffered this injury due to a horse-riding accident and never recovered from it.
Cervical spinal injuries
These are injuries to the neck area and can be the most severe, often resulting in full paralysis or even death.
Thoracic spinal injuries
These occur in the upper and mid-back and can affect your torso and legs.
Lumbar spinal injuries
These happen in the lower back and can affect your hips and legs.
Sacral spinal injuries
These are injuries near your hips and can affect the legs as well as bodily functions like bowel and bladder control.
These are bruises on the spinal cord. They are less severe than a complete or incomplete injury but can still cause significant complications.
This is when one of the soft cushions between your vertebrae slips out, pressing on the spinal cord or nerves.
This is when one or more of the vertebrae crack or break, which can lead to spinal cord damage if not treated right away.
Accidents That Can Cause Spinal Cord Injuries
Any situation where your body goes through a sudden jolt can damage your spine. This is why car, truck, motorcycle, and bicycle accidents are the leading cause of spinal and back injuries. But there are several other situations where people sustain similar injuries:
- Slipping and falling, especially from a height, can put a lot of pressure on your spine
- Contact sports like football or activities like diving into shallow water
- Heavy lifting or falling objects at construction sites
- Sometimes surgeries or medical treatments can go wrong
- A strong electric shock can cause muscles to contract violently, damaging the spine
- Bus or train accidents where the spine suffers major force of impact
- Collisions on the water when you are in a boat, where you are thrown around
- If you are a pedestrian and hit by a car while walking
- Kids climbing and falling off playground equipment (swings, monkey bars)
- A dangerous animal attack can also result in spine injuries
How Much Compensation You Can Receive for a Spinal Injury Claim?
The amount you can recover through an Illinois personal injury claim in these cases depends on several factors, including:
- How seriously you are injured (the more severe the injury is, the higher the settlement)
- The amount of all your medical treatment costs (ambulance rides, surgeries, physical therapy, home modifications, assistive devices, chronic pain medications)
- The amount of income you have lost and might lose in the future (if you can’t work)
- The pain and suffering you go through because of the spine injury
Who was responsible for your accident is also considered; if your Illinois personal injury attorney can prove that the other party is clearly at fault, you are more likely to get a higher amount. But remember, the at-fault party’s insurance coverage limits can also affect how much you can get. If they have low coverage, it might limit your compensation.
The good news is, the Illinois law doesn’t put any cap (limit) on how much you can recover for most personal injury cases, including spinal injuries. Workers’ Compensation cases do have limits based on a formula that considers your average weekly wage and the severity of your disability. You should talk to your Illinois spinal cord injuries lawyer to get an accurate estimate for your specific situation.
Determining Liability for an Accident Causing a Spinal Cord Injury
Illinois follows the principle of comparative negligence, which means even if you are partly at fault, you can still obtain financial compensation through your personal injury claim. The rule is that your share of the blame will proportionately reduce how much compensation you get.
For instance, if you are in a car accident and the court determines the other driver is 70% at fault and you are 30% at fault, you will get 70% of the total money awarded for your injury. In workers’ compensation cases, it doesn’t matter who is at fault, and you will receive the compensation you are entitled to.
Sometimes, a third party, like a machine manufacturer, might also be liable if your spinal cord injury was caused due to their defective tool or machinery. Your personal injury lawyer would then go after them for additional compensation in addition to your construction workers’ compensation.
In spinal cord injury lawsuits, you need to prove four elements to establish liability. Simply put, you need to prove that:
- The person or company who caused your injury had a duty to act in a certain way
- They did not do what they were supposed to do
- Their actions directly led to your injury (if you cannot link your injury to their actions, you won’t have a case)
- You actually got injured and suffered losses (i.e., medical bills or lost wages)
At Mike Agruss Law, we investigate your case thoroughly and collect as much evidence as possible to prove each of these legal elements.
For example, if your spine was damaged in a car or motorcycle accident, we will acquire the police report, which often points out who broke the law. We will also look for any traffic camera or dashcam footage that recorded the accident victims, and talk to witnesses, if any.
If you were injured at a commercial site due to hazards like loose cables or a wet floor, we will check if the company has had safety violations before. Your medical records will also help us establish the severity of your injury and connect it directly to the accident. We might bring in an engineer or a medical professional to explain things like how a machine at your workplace is unsafe or why you need a certain medical treatment.
How Long Do I Have to Sue for a Spinal Cord Injury in Illinois?
You have two years after your accident to file a lawsuit; if you don’t do it within this time frame, your chance to take any legal action will pass. If the injured person dies, their immediate family member can file a wrongful death claim within two years of the date of death.
There are several other factors and exceptions to this statute of limitations in Illinois, but it’s best for you to assume that you only have two years or less. Do NOT delay in calling a spinal cord injury attorney.
No Win, No Fee: Schedule Your Free Consultation Today
When you decide to go against powerful insurance companies or defendants, you want to be represented by a legal team that has been through similar legal battles, came out victorious, and knows exactly how to help you do the same. At Mike Agruss Law, we have settled more than 8,000 cases and recovered millions of dollars through jury verdicts and out-of-court settlements in Illinois.
But that is to be expected when our personal injury lawyers have a combined experience of over 100 years, going toe-to-toe with some of the biggest corporations in the country. You get access to our legal acumen at no charge: we work on a strict contingency basis. You don’t pay us a dime unless we win your case.
If you are ready to talk to spinal cord injury lawyers who are willing to go the extra mile fighting for your right to maximum compensation, give us a call at 312-300-5996 (local) or 844-SEE-MIKE (toll-free), or contact us online.