Columbus Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers
Across America each year, between 12,000 and 15,000 people are involved in accidents where a serious spinal cord injury is the end result. From the group above, roughly 10,000 will become paralyzed, and countless others will succumb to their spinal cord injuries. An essential component of the communication between the body and brain, a damaged spine can disrupt the body’s natural balance for life.
Rinehardt Law Firm can be a vital asset to those seeking monetary damages for spinal cord injuries. Due to the complex nature of these cases, our firm can handle many aspects of your claim, whether it takes litigating in court or settling your claim during the pre-litigation settlement phase.
If you or your loved one need help with your spinal cord injury case, contact our experienced Columbus spinal cord injury lawyers at (419) 529-2020 or reach out to us online. Our consultations are always free, and we will not collect anything unless we win your case.
What Is A Spinal Cord Injury?
Spinal cord injuries occur when a person’s “backbone”, or spinal column, sustains damage from a fall, a direct blow or any form of blunt-force trauma. As your spinal cord houses a communication system that helps your brain communicate with your body, serious injuries could lead to loss of physical sensation, inability to walk, diminished mental capacity, loss of sexual function, and other serious health problems which could worsen over time.
The spine has several sections, each with progressively more serious consequences if damaged:
- Sacral spine (S1-S5). As the lowest part of the human spine (above the tailbone), damage to this area isn’t known to cause major paralysis but will vary depending on the injury. This area, when injured, can make sitting for extended periods uncomfortable.
- Lumbar spine(L1-L5). If the lumbar spine is compromised, one can expect diminished strength and the inability to bend, twist or turn rapidly.
- Thoracic vertebrae (T1-T12). This area supports your ability to stand and sit upright while offering a support system to organs in your upper body. Damaging this area may cause prolonged complications, although severe damage doesn’t always mean paralysis.
- Low Cervical Nerves (C5-C8). Nerves that correspond with this area of your spinal cord help control hand and arm movement. If damaged, breathing may be labored, and the inability to speak may disappear altogether or become abnormal.
- High Cervical Nerves (C1-C4). The highest point of your spinal cord (closest to the brain) has the most severe consequences if damaged. From losing control of bowel movements to tetraplegia and the inability to breathe normally, injuries to this area may require an aide by your side for a longer period, if not for life.
Surgical procedures can correct some issues with lower-level back injuries; the higher up your back the injury is, the riskier it becomes for surgeons to operate.
Why You Need a Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer
People who believe their actions were justified or believe you were partially at fault for your spinal cord injury will often refuse to accept responsibility for the harm they caused you. The insurance company will often deny your claim or might offer a lowball settlement that is far less than what you need to rebuild your life and move on after the accident.
By hiring an attorney, you can count on their knowledge and skill to level the playing field. With so much on the line, you should only hire a law firm with the right experience and resources to help get you the money you are owed.
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injury in Columbus
Vehicle accidents are currently the leading cause of spinal cord injury, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, closely followed by falls and acts of violence. Here’s how your spinal cord could be injured:
- Auto accidents. This includes collisions with other cars, box trucks, and semis;
- Motorcycle accidents;
- Slips and falls;
- Falling objects;
- Medical malpractice;
- Acts of violence;
- Pedestrian accidents;
- Bicycle accidents; and
- Workplace accidents.
While these are more common than other spinal cord injuries, dog bites and other premises liabilities can also injure your spine.
How to Prove Your Spinal Cord Injury
Individuals who’ve been seriously injured, paralyzed or killed by negligent actions may have injured their spine in three ways: A personal injury, premises liability, or product liability. We will address each one individually as Ohio Common Pleas Court will have different methods required to prove each.
Spinal cord injury from product liability
To prove products such as faulty seatbelts or airbags caused spinal cord injuries, you’ll need to prove:
- Product failed to conform to warranties, or was misrepresented;
- Product had a defective design;
- Product contained defective parts or failed due to manufacturer flaw; and
- Product had defects in warnings.
If claimants are able to prove any one (1) component above, their claim would survive. In Ohio, injured persons have two (2) years from the day the injury first took place to file a civil action. Damages are capped at $500,000 per occurrence or three times economic losses (capped at $350,000 per person) for noneconomic damages, with no cap on economic damages.
Spinal cord injury from premises liability
Proving an individual sustained a spinal cord injury from a premises liability incident requires:
- Property owner owed the injured person a duty of care;
- The property owner was reasonably aware the hazard existed, but failed to convey that information to the injured person, or failed to remedy the hazard; and
- That hazard caused a spinal cord injury which resulted in economic losses and additional suffering.
Those who wish to bring a civil action against the property owner are given two (2) years from the date injury was sustained to file, or they’ll lose their rights. Damage caps for noneconomic losses follow the above, while punitive damages are capped at ten percent of the claim’s net worth, up to $350,000. There are no caps on economic losses.
Spinal cord injury from an injury accident
Whether by vehicle accident or medical negligence, personal injuries that cause an individual to sustain an injury to their spine are equally catastrophic to those above. Victims can take action against the negligent party, but will need to prove:
- The defendant had the duty to care for the injured;
- That duty was breached voluntarily by the defendant, knowing an injury was possible in doing so;
- The breach caused an injury to the individual they were legally responsible to; and
- That injury brought about economic and noneconomic losses.
Injuries to persons and personal property are given two (2) years from the injury to seek legal action; medical malpractice, one (1) year in most claims but up to four (4) years under Ohio’s statute of repose (restrictions apply); two (2) years if bringing action against Ohio government or its employees. Actions against the government must be filed with the Court of Claims.
Economic and noneconomic caps follow the above since they’re based on the same law, although in medical malpractice cases the noneconomic award can be bumped to $1 million if the negligence led to a catastrophic injury.
Spinal Cord Injury Frequently Asked Questions
Victims and their families may have questions about the spinal cord injury claim process. Rinehardt Law Firm will address some of those now; schedule your consultation today to have many other questions answered in person.
What if I’m partially at fault for the accident that caused my injury?
Ohio does not bar recovery of economic or noneconomic damages provided the injured person is less negligent than the other party. This allows an individual to have 50% fault in their own accident without loss of settlement, although any monetary award will be reduced by the amount of fault the injured person was found to have.
What if I’m unable to afford medical care for my injured spine?
Our commitment to injured persons is strong enough that we’re able to connect injured persons with local medical care facilities who will help you recover. If you cannot pay them, they will place a medical lien on your settlement funds; once your check is ready for disbursement, their services will be deducted from those proceeds.
What happens if I lose my case?
Our firm works on a contingency-fee basis. We’ll front all costs associated with investigating, litigating, negotiating, paying our staff, and whatever it takes to emerge victorious in your case. If we happen to lose your case, you will owe us nothing.
Rinehardt Law Firm Will Fight for Compensation
We provide qualified, compassionate representation for Ohioans who sustained spinal cord injuries from car accidents, slips and falls, pedestrian accidents, and many other accident types. Depending on what part of your spine was injured, you may require months or years of recovery; some may experience permanent paralysis or death. No matter what circumstance caused this, we’re on your side until the end.
Our Ohio personal injury attorneys would like to discuss your case with you without cost. With two locations in central and north central Ohio to serve many injured people, let Rinehardt Law Firm get justice for you. Consultations are being scheduled now; get started by calling (419) 529-2020.
Rinehardt Law Firm is the answer to your personal injury. Our team of attorneys and case managers have represented clients in in Columbus and throughout central and north central Ohio for years. We treat every new client as if they were part of our family by providing clear communication, building a strong relationship, and using our experience to provide legal guidance that’s in their best interests. We offer free consultations with no obligation, so don’t hesitate to contact our team about your legal matter.