Spinal cord injuries are among the most devastating trauma that an accident victim can suffer. Many of these are irreversible, even with surgeries and other treatments. As a result, the victim could suffer some degree of paralysis, taking away their quality of life. When a victim can recover, it could require a long road with grueling rehabilitation. This is why spinal cord injuries generally result in more compensation than many other injuries.

If you find yourself in this situation, seek help from the experienced Tucson spinal cord injury attorneys at Zanes Law Injury Lawyers.

Your Tucson Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer

MMDAF awards_logo1Zanes Law has been serving the Tucson area for many years, helping injured clients take on the insurance companies and collect the damages they deserve. In our years in practice, we have helped many clients who have suffered spinal cord injuries. No matter how your injury occurred, we want to hear from you so that we can evaluate your case, determine who was responsible and put together a plan to help you recover compensation.

We have helped clients who suffered the following spinal cord injuries and more.

Auto Accidents

Spinal cord injuries are common in car accidents. Particularly when struck from the rear, a driver or vehicle occupant is vulnerable to having their head and neck suddenly snap forward and back, causing a painful and difficult-to-treat spinal injury known as whiplash.

If you injured your spine in a car accident, whether it was a rear-end collision or another type of crash, we will help you recover compensation from the other driver and their insurer. Call Zanes Law at (866) 499-8989 so that we can get to work on your case right away.

Slip and Fall

Slip and fall accidents make up a major portion of the spinal cord injury cases we have fought and won over the years. If you slipped and fell on someone else’s property, the owner or manager is likely responsible for your injuries under Arizona’s premises liability laws.

Zanes Law will investigate your slip-and-fall injury and determine if it was caused by a hazardous condition that should have been addressed by the property owner or manager. We will pursue them and their insurance company for fair compensation.

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is a leading cause of death and major injury in Arizona and in the United States. If negligence or wrongdoing by a doctor or medical provider caused or contributed to your spinal cord injury, we will go after them for the compensation you deserve.

Intentional Violence

Sadly, many spinal cord injuries are not accidents at all but the result of violent acts by another person. We will seek damages from anyone who intentionally injured you or your loved one.

Zanes Law will help you whether your injury does or does not appear on the above list. To learn more about our law firm and how we can recover the compensation you deserve, call our office today to set up a free, no-obligation case evaluation: (866) 499-8989.

Trust Zanes Law to Recover the Compensation You Deserve

After suffering a spinal cord injury, your first order of business should be receiving any medical care you need. This is important not only for your health but for establishing a clear, conclusive link between the incident that caused your injury and the damage itself. Even if you do not feel seriously injured, you should always get an immediate medical check-up anytime your spine is involved.

Next, speak with a Tucson spinal cord injury lawyer about your legal options. Chances are, you are eligible to file a claim or lawsuit and recover damages from one or more responsible parties. We will help you do this and will make sure you receive the fair compensation you deserve.

We will help you recover a settlement or award that includes damages for the following and more:

  • Current and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Reduced earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering and inconvenience
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Depending on the unique circumstances of your injury, you may be eligible to recover more damages than those listed above. According to Mayo Clinic, spinal cord injuries can be severe enough to require rehabilitative therapy to “strengthen existing muscle function, redevelop fine motor skills, and learn adaptive techniques to accomplish day-to-day tasks.” You may be eligible for damages to help pay for this kind of treatment.

Zanes Law will conduct a free case evaluation and let you know what to expect. To start the process today, and to sign up in a single phone call, reach us in our Tucson office at (866) 499-8989.

Why Spinal Cord Injuries Happen

Thankfully, spinal cord injuries are rare in the United States. The estimated annual rate of occurrence is 54 injuries for every million people. This translates to roughly 18,000 SCIs every year. This gives your family no comfort when you or a loved one suffered one of these injuries. It will uproot not only the life of the victim but also that of the entire family.

SCIs usually happen due to sudden trauma to the body. Usually, this is a blow to the neck that severely damages one or more of the vertebrae. Then, the vertebrae will penetrate and injure the spinal cord. When this type of damage occurs, the accident victim will likely permanently lose some movement in part or all of their body.

SCIs could happen in any one of these accidents:

The Different Types of SCIs

Medical professionals categorize SCIs according to the extent of the injury. Here are the two main types of SCI:

  • Complete SCI – this is when the victim suffers an SCI that cuts the brain’s ability to send messages to the rest of the body. This is the most serious type of SCI.
  • Incomplete SCI – this is when the injury affects the brain’s ability to send messages, but it does not necessarily eliminate this ability. People respond differently to incomplete SCIs. Some may permanently lose function, while others may recover to an extent after rehabilitation. Incomplete SCIs can include things like anterior cord syndrome, central cord syndrome, and Brown-Secard Syndrome.

Every spinal cord injury will have a classification, depending on its severity. Here are the main types of SCIs by severity:

Tetraplegia – This is the most severe type of spinal cord injury. Patients can no longer move below the site of the injury. The severity of the loss of movement depends on the location of the injury on the spinal cord. Anything below the injury would likely lose all function, including possible respiratory and bladder control issues.

Paraplegia – This is a form of partial paralysis. Patients lose their function from the waist down, and they can no longer walk.

Triplegia – This is an incomplete SCI, where the patient loses function in their legs and one arm.

In the past, more SCIs became complete injuries. In recent decades, the medical community improved the immediate treatment of SCIs, and timely and extensive intervention can now minimize the severity of some injuries. What may have been a complete SCI in the past could now become an incomplete SCI, giving the patient hope for some recovery and more function. The cost of these treatments can be prohibitive.

Our legal team helps SCI victims with all types and degrees of spinal injuries. Seek the medical treatment you need, then contact our Tucson spinal injury lawyers for legal assistance.

The Statutes of Limitations

ASLA awards_logo3Arizona has a two-year statute of limitations under AZ § 12-542 that applies to most personal injury claims, but the deadline for your specific injury may be longer or shorter depending on a number of factors. That is why it is essential to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after your injury. Once we evaluate your case, we will apprise you of any dates you should be aware of. We will even file a quick lawsuit if necessary to keep the statute from expiring.

Treatment and Care Costs of a Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injuries are expensive to care for and treat, to say the least.

The estimated lifetime costs for an SCI depend on the type and severity of injury:

  • High tetraplegia is the most serious type of spinal cord injury, and it has lifetime costs of nearly $5 million, including over $1 million in the first year.
  • Low tetraplegia has lifetime costs that exceed $3 million, with initial costs in the first year approaching $800,000.
  • Paraplegia has lifetime costs of approximately $2.5 million.
  • Loss of motor functions could cost between $1-2 million.

These cost estimates were for a 25-year old who suffers the injury. Older victims may have lower costs. In addition, these costs can regularly increase due to medical cost inflation. Care could depart from these averages based on the severity of the injury and the needed intervention. For example, if the patient needs respiratory help, it could cost far more.

Younger males suffer most spinal cord injuries. Typically, this is because they have a more active lifestyle that exposes them to injuries. Nonetheless, the largest number of spinal cord injuries come from car accidents and falls. However, anyone can suffer this catastrophic injury at any time. The damage that can change a life can happen in an instant. Then, the victim and the family will have to deal with the impacts for an entire lifetime.

Costs Are High at First and Require a Lifetime of Care

Many costs are incurred right off the bat because a spinal cord injury victim may have numerous complex surgeries at first to either potentially repair the damage or stabilize the area. These are extensive procedures performed by an entire team of surgeons. As a result, the family will have significant medical bills right off the bat, even after health insurance covers its part of the tab. These medical creditors could breathe down the family’s back for payment.

The costs of caring for SCIs stay high. Depending on the severity of the injury, the patient may need round-the-clock medical care. Even without this, medical equipment and refitting their home to accommodate their new condition is extremely expensive. They may also need to have years of physical therapy and rehabilitation to see if they can regain any of their function or learn to accomplish tasks with their disability. All the while, the patient is suffering from the mental effects of their injury.

The Non-Medical Costs of an SCI

These are just the medical aspects of the costs. There are financial and emotional costs that stretch far beyond this. SCIs will rob a patient of much of the life that they enjoyed before the accident. Even if they do not feel physical pain, their injury will cause them anxiety and depression, and they adjust to their new life. In addition, they will lose much of the enjoyment of life that they had before.

Further, the victim may have to take a different job if they can work at all. If they did physical work in the past, they could never have the ability to work again. Thus, lost wages are also a large part of the claim. The family could go from having a breadwinner to having to pay large medical bills. If a family member must miss work or leave their job to take care of the accident victim, this should count as part of lost wages.

Your Tucson Spinal Cord Injury Settlement or Verdict Might Be High

Tucson Metro Chamber awards_logo2As you are coming to understand, SCI settlements and jury verdicts are hardly small because the damages are steep. You may need millions of dollars just to pay the costs of care before you receive compensation for anything else. At the same time, you need to make sure to fight for every penny to which you are legally entitled. The family will need that money, and you never want to run out of money to care for an accident victim because you settled a claim for too little.

While we gave average claim values for SCIs, your particular claim may be different. This is why you need someone who can place a dollar value on your claim. This cannot be guesswork or a back-of-the-napkin calculation. Instead, this must be a precise estimate from someone who has done the work to properly value your claim.

This is why you need a lawyer whose representation you trust. You are taking their word for how much you deserve in your case. At Zanes Law Injury Lawyers, we work with medical, professional, and economic experts to figure out your needs both now and in the future. This is a number that you simply cannot afford to get wrong.

Don’t Let the Insurance Company Underpay Your Claim

The insurance company may be happy to settle your claim quickly if you go down that route. They understand that they never want to face off against someone with an SCI in court. These injured accident victims make very sympathetic plaintiffs in front of a jury, and an insurance company may want to settle when they can to keep their tab low.

This is not what is in your best interests. You count on your attorney to put the brakes on this by telling you that the offer is too low and that you should reject it and continue to negotiate.

Before you even file a claim, you need a legal strategy for dealing with the case. The important things in these areas are for a lawyer to figure out:

  • What happened to cause your injury?
  • Who was responsible for it?

What Happens When an SCI Happens at Work?

If the injury happened at work, you may not be able to sue anyone for it. Instead, your claim would have to proceed through the workers’ compensation process. The good news is that this would cover the medical costs that are often the largest component of any SCI case. This would also cover part of the victim’s wages. However, a workers’ compensation claim would not pay for pain and suffering.

If someone else other than an employer was responsible, the case could go through the personal injury process. Your lawyer must figure out who was responsible for the injury. Oftentimes, there is more than one responsible party, and you can sue each of them. This helps maximize your recovery, not because your damages are greater, but there may be more insurance coverage to pay for the injuries. This requires a full investigation of your case by your lawyer.

Suing a Company for a Spinal Cord Injury in Tucson

The possible settlement or jury verdict could be even larger if you can sue a company. If your injury happened due to a company or a person who was on the job at the time of the accident, this could allow you to file the lawsuit because the company is responsible for the acts of its employees. Companies usually carry larger policies, and they are responsible for the acts of their employees. This is what usually happens if an accident victim suffered an injury in a trucking accident.

The important part is to get a lawyer on the case quickly. Not only will getting someone to work immediately possibly help your claim, but it will give your family some peace of mind in knowing that someone is working on your behalf to recover financially as the medical bills pile up quickly. The legal process does not put itself on hold while the family tends to their injured family member. Instead, they need to multitask. Since there is only so much that they can do on their own, they need the help of an attorney.

You Do Not Have to Worry About the Cost of a Lawyer

With everything that the family has on their plate financially, hiring a lawyer is one thing that they do not have to worry about. Regardless of your financial situation, you can always afford to hire our spinal cord injury lawyers.

Our attorneys will not charge you anything upfront. While this does not mean that the attorney works for free, it does mean that you do not need to worry about a retainer or hourly bills. We only receive payment after the case if you are successful. If for some reason, you are not, you do not owe us for our services. Having the money to hire a lawyer is one less thing that you have to worry about during what is already an incredibly difficult time.

Tucson Spinal Cord Injury FAQ

Is There a Hope of Recovery from My Spinal Cord Injury?

While SCI victims may not fully recover from their injury, they may regain some degree of function after the injury. Treatments can make some difference. For example, medical professionals are increasingly using electrical stimulation to help injury victims. Some research has shown this to help patients recover some abilities. Medical professionals are still researching the subject, but this is a promising avenue of treatment.

Others are receiving stem cell therapy to repair damaged cells below the injury. This is another area where research and science are making progress.

Even when recovery and healing are not possible, physical and occupational therapy can help an accident victim adjust their life to accommodate their injuries.

However, all of these treatments can cost enormous sums. While research is advancing, it will also mean that medical bills associated with SCIs will increase. Meanwhile, if you or a loved one have suffered this devastating injury, our Tucson spinal cord injury lawyers can fight for the compensation you need to pay for the medical treatments you already received as well as those you may yet require.

How Do I Know the Total Life Care Costs for an Injury?

We have described the very high lifetime costs for a spinal cord injury. You will need a very good idea of what they will be at the time that you are seeking compensation. Otherwise, you cannot persuade an insurance company or jury to pay you what you need to care for your injuries. The problem is that it is difficult to look into the future to know what you may need.

There are experts and life care planners that can assess your situation and give you a better idea of what the lifetime costs of your injuries are. At Zanes Law Injury Lawyers, we work with these experts regularly, and we can place a value on your claim. This may be the most important part of your claims process since the insurance company knows these costs and likes to operate with better information.

In addition to life care costs, you will also need a vocational expert to value your future earnings when you cannot work again.

What Types of Doctors Will Help Treat an SCI?

Here are some of the doctors that might serve on your medical team and what they may do to help you:

  • Orthopedist – this doctor will diagnose the severity of the SCI and may perform surgery to treat the injury.
  • Physiatrist – this is a doctor who specializes in rehabilitation and physical medicine. They may help oversee your physical and occupational therapy to help ensure its maximum effectiveness.
  • Neurologist – most spinal surgeries are performed by neurologists because they are very complicated and delicate procedures.
  • Neuropsychologists – these doctors are clinical specialists who will help retrain an SCI patient’s behavior to adjust to life after the injuries.

Patients will need an entire medical team to treat them. They may have numerous surgeries over the years as doctors try to help them stabilize and recover. This is why SCIs have such high costs of treatment.

Will an SCI Shorten a Patient’s Life?

SCIs may shorten the life expectancy of a patient, although many can live for a relatively long time. Some patients do not live past the first year after the injury. An otherwise healthy 20-year old who survives the first year after their injury will have a life expectancy of around 34 years. Life expectancies decrease when a patient has a complete SCI.

Various factors can shorten life expectancies, such as kidney damage and respiratory failure. In addition, SCI patients are more susceptible to serious infection the less they can move.

What Damages Can I Recover for an SCI?

We have explained why SCI cases will result in much higher settlements or jury awards.

Here are the components of an SCI settlement:

  • Lost wages – many SCI patients never work again, especially if they did physical labor before their accident. You may have a difference of opinion with the insurance company about how much work you can do after the accident.
  • Pain and suffering – this is also a large part of the award because having a permanent disability can cause depression and anxiety.
  • Medical expenses – a settlement can cover all of treatment and rehabilitation costs, both for past and future expenses.
  • Care costs – if patients need home health care or extra help, part of a settlement pays for this. In addition, part of the settlement also pays the costs of medical equipment and fitting the home to accommodate the injury.
  • Emotional distress – both the injury and the aftermath can cause significant emotional trauma for an accident victim.

What Is the Average Settlement for an SCI?

It is difficult to give an exact dollar figure for the average settlement after an SCI. It depends on the nature and extent of your injuries and what type of SCI you have, complete or incomplete.

The next differentiating factor is how hard you fight for the maximum possible settlement or award. Some people may be less aggressive in pursuing compensation. As a result, the insurance company may pay them less than they legally deserve. With different legal strategies, two people who have the exact injury and life situations can get entirely varying amounts of money. Much depends on the lawyer that you hire. At Zanes Law Injury Lawyers, we are equal to the task of fighting to get you the largest settlement possible.

What if the Insurance Company Has Denied My Claim After a Spinal Cord Injury?

While the insurance company has some power because they are an intermediary who can write a check and settle a case, their control is not unlimited. Your legal rights do not end with the claims process. If the insurance company does not even make a settlement offer because they have denied the claim completely, you can file a lawsuit against the defendant.

The insurance company will be on the defensive in court, and the jury will decide whether you are entitled to damages. In most cases, insurance companies know when you have a strong case, and your fight with them is about the amount of the settlement rather than your entitlement.

Nonetheless, you always have the right and ability to sue. Before you even file a claim, you should seek the help of a lawyer to make sure that you are following the insurance company’s procedures properly.

What if the Responsible Party’s Insurance Policy Is Not Enough to Pay for My Injuries?

If your injury occurred in an auto accident, you may have underinsured motorist coverage that can pay for your injuries that exceed the other driver’s maximum policy coverage. This will mean that you need to deal with two different insurance companies.

If you have an umbrella policy, you may also use this to pay your costs.

If this is still not enough to cover your damages, you can collect them from the driver. You can get a judgment that you can enforce by going after their personal assets. You may access their bank accounts, garnish their wages, and seize some of their personal property.

Sometimes, multiple parties caused your injuries. This means you may file a claim against more policies.

We will review your case to see if there are any additional parties that you can bring into your claim that can result in more compensation.

Will My Spinal Cord Injury Case Go to Trial?

In general, personal injury trials are rare. Even if lawyers file many lawsuits in court, most will settle before they end up in a courtroom. Often, the parties will go through many of the processes that lead up to trial, such as discovery, only to settle before the trial happens. There are compelling reasons for that. SCI patients do not want to wait years to get their money, and they do not want to take the risk that they may get nothing in court.

Insurance companies fear going in front of a jury in a case against a severely injured patient. The jury may award a large damages verdict that the insurance company can avoid by settling before a trial. In almost all cases, there will be settlement discussions between the plaintiff and the defendant. Some injured patients will settle the case with the insurance company without even filing a lawsuit. Your lawyer will give you legal advice about the best strategy for your case.

Why Do I Need a Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer?

This is not the type of case that a family should try to handle on their own. The stakes are too high, and the variance in outcomes is too great to go through this case without an experienced attorney. The insurance company feels no pity for a badly injured claimant, nor do they feel any remorse when they settle a claim for far less than it is worth.

Your lawyer is your safeguard and your advocate who will fight for your interests. Otherwise, some will seek to compromise your legal rights, so they can make more money or avoid paying you the money that you need and deserve. Studies show that those with lawyers do far better than those who try to handle their own claims, even after paying a percentage of their settlement to a lawyer.

What Will Happen if I Need to File a Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit?

You should prepare for the legal process to take longer if you need to go to court. The average trial can take two years from the time that you file the case, and that is without an appeal if the defendant loses. The court process is not easy, but we are here for you at every step of the way. Zanes Law Injury Lawyer will aggressively and persuasively argue your case in court, as we are a force to be reckoned with at trial.

Your case will begin when your lawyer drafts a complaint that states the facts of your case and the reasons why the defendant should pay for your injuries. They will file this with the court and serve it to the other party.

Then, you will go through the most detailed and involved part of your case, which is called discovery. This is where each side tries to get evidence that the opposing party possesses. You may even have your deposition taken.

If the case has not settled, you may end up at a hearing in front of the jury, where they will decide whether you can get compensation and how much you might receive.

How Much Will a Tucson Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Cost Me?

You already have enough financial worries after a spinal cord injury as medical care is expensive, and you may not be working and earning money. The cost of getting legal help is not something that you need to stress over because there is none. This is one thing that you do not need to worry about.

Lawyers do not work for free, but the way they collect payment makes it easy for you to pursue financial compensation. You do not need to write a check (or borrow money) to pay for our spinal cord injury lawyers.

Other types of lawyers may need money upfront, but this is not something that we ask for. We work on a contingency basis, meaning that we collect payments only if you win. If, for some reason, you do not win, you don’t pay anything. If you receive money, we will only collect a percentage of the proceeds from your settlement or jury award.

In the end, you lose nothing and gain much from contacting the Tucson spinal injury attorneys at Zanes Law Injury Lawyers.

Contact Our Tucson Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers

Doug Zanes

Doug Zanes, Tucson Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer

After a spinal injury to you or a loved one, you want Zanes Law Injury Lawyers on your side. Contact us online or call the Tucson office at (520) 777-7777 for your no-cost, no-obligation consultation. We have locations throughout Arizona to best represent our clients.

Tucson Office
4580 E Grant Rd #101
Tucson, AZ 85712
(520) 777-7777

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