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Non-Economic Damages in Spinal Cord Personal Injury Laws: Seeking Compensation

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When Can Spinal Cord Injury Victims Recover Damages?

As in all Georgia personal injury matters, individuals who suffer spinal cord injury through someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing have a legal right to seek damages from responsible parties.

For example, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injury. If a reckless driver ran a red light at 70 mph and T-boned another vehicle, an occupant of the other vehicle who suffered spinal cord injury in the crash would be entitled to seek compensation from the at-fault driver. Falls are another common cause of spinal cord injury. If a spill in a restaurant was not cleaned up promptly and caused a customer to slip and fall, sustaining spinal cord injuries, the restaurant could be liable for damages. 

What Are the Consequences of Spinal Cord Injury?

As stated by the Mayo Clinic, spinal cord injury often causes permanent changes in sensation, strength, and body functions below the site of the injury. Victims may also experience emotional, mental, and social effects. The ability to control the limbs after spinal cord injury depends on the severity of the injury and its location on the spinal cord. The injury may be complete (all feeling and ability to control movement are lost below the level of the spinal cord injury) or incomplete (some feeling and ability to control movement remain below the level of the injury). Incomplete spinal cord injury occurs in varying degrees.

Paralysis from spinal cord injury is referred to as:

  • Quadriplegia (or tetraplegia): The arms, hands, trunk, pelvic organs, and legs are affected by paralysis.
  • Paraplegia: All or part of the trunk, the pelvic organs, and the legs are affected.

What Types of Damages Are Available in a Spinal Cord Injury Claim?

The two types of damages that may be awarded in spinal cord injury and other personal injury claims are compensatory damages and, less commonly, punitive damages. 

Compensatory Damages

Spinal cord victims are entitled to recover compensatory damages designed to compensate them for the losses they have suffered. The two basic types of compensatory damages are:

  • Economic damages: Compensation for monetary losses, such as medical expenses, lost earnings, and loss of future earning capacity, and other financial losses.
  • Non-economic damages: Compensation for losses such as pain and suffering and diminished quality of life, and other personal losses.

Punitive Damages

In spinal cord injury cases with aggravating circumstances, punitive damages may be awarded, in addition to compensatory damages, under Georgia Code §51-12-5.1. Also known as exemplary damages, they are designed to punish the defendant for wrongdoing and to deter similar actions in the future. 

What Are Some Common Non-Economic Damages in Spinal Cord Injury Claims?

Spinal cord injuries can have life-altering consequences for victims and their families. They often require multiple surgeries, extensive medical treatment, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and ongoing care. A spinal cord injury victim may be unable to return to a previous line of work. Modifications to the home and vehicle may be required. In addition to the enormous economic costs, victims may also suffer severe personal losses of an intangible nature, for which they are entitled to seek compensation. Non-economic damages in spinal cord injury claims may include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Mental anguish
  • Physical impairment
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

How Can an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Help?

If you or your loved one has sustained a spinal cord injury in an accident that was someone else’s fault, it is critical to recover the maximum compensation available. For high-stakes spinal cord injury cases, insurance companies have teams of lawyers ready to fight against your claim. At The Scott Pryor Law Group, we have won multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts for our clients. Our founding attorney has been named among the top 1% of trial attorneys in the nation. Contact us at (404) 474-7122. We focus our practice on fighting for those who have been injured through the negligence of others.

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