Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are among the most devastating of all personal injuries, because they often result in lifelong consequences such as paralysis. When this happens, the stage is set for contentious litigation. The civil compensation systems in Maryland and Washington D.C. are adversarial by design, and that means you will be at war. At Henderson Law, we are grizzled veterans of that war, with experience representing both plaintiffs and defendants in serious personal injury claims.
A spinal cord injury can result from many different causes. The five most common, however, are:
- Traffic accidents;
- Slip and fall accidents;
- Sports injuries;
- Violent crimes; and
- Medical malpractice.
A personal injury claim is appropriate when the victim of the injury is not the person whose misconduct caused the injury. A personal injury claim can be based on negligence, intentional misconduct, or even vicarious liability (liability for the misconduct of another).
When millions of dollars in damages are at stake (as they sometimes are), you can expect the defendant to mount a vigorous defense. Some of the most commonly used defenses to spinal cord injury claims include:
- Contributory negligence: The defendant asserts that the plaintiff was partly at fault for the accident.
- Assumption of risk: This defense applies primarily to accidents arising from activities that were inherently risky, and the victim knew of the risk and voluntarily participated in the activity.
- Expiration of the statute of limitations period: You have a certain amount of time after an injury to file a lawsuit. If you fail to either file a lawsuit or reach an enforceable settlement agreement by that date, your claim will be time-barred.
A serious spinal cord injury can cost up to $1 million per year, according to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, in addition to further costs that pile up year after year. Victims are entitled to far more than reimbursement for medical bills, however. Damages may include:
- Past medical expenses
- Estimated future medical expenses
- Lost earnings
- Estimated future loss of earnings (imagine the losses if the victim is forced to retire early due to the accident, for example)
- Pain and suffering, mental anguish, and various other forms of compensation for psychological distress. These damages often make up the majority of a damages award.
- Punitive damages may be available in unusual cases, such as upon a finding of actual malice, evil or wrongful motive, intent to injure, ill will, or fraud.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Will a court enforce a private settlement agreement?
Courts view settlement agreements as contracts and have the power to enforce them as long as they are properly executed and signed by both parties. If the defendant refuses to pay after having agreed to pay in writing, the plaintiff can go to court and compel him to pay, even to the point of freezing his bank account or seizing his assets.
If I sign a settlement agreement and run out of money later, can I come back for more?
No, because the settlement agreement will inevitably include a release of liability that will prevent you from filing a claim over the same accident in the future. This is why it is so important to accurately calculate your damages before a settlement agreement is signed. If you suffered long-term injury, calculating and proving your future damages can be tricky.
How does contributory negligence work?
Contributory negligence is a defendant-friendly rule which completely bars a plaintiff’s recovery in negligence actions if the plaintiff’s own negligence is found to contribute to the injury. Negligence on behalf of the plaintiff does not rise to contributory if it is not a proximate cause of the injury. The defendant has the burden of proving that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent. This rule applies in both Maryland and D.C., except that injured pedestrians and bicyclists in D.C. can still recover all of their damages if they were only 50 percent or less at fault for the accident.
I was injured in an accident as an Uber passenger. Can I file a lawsuit against Uber?
Uber and Lyft drivers are considered independent contractors rather than employees. As such, the companies they work for would typically not be responsible for their drivers’ negligence. There is an exception to this rule where it can be shown that the employer was negligent in hiring that contractor and that such negligent hiring was the proximate cause of the injury. Nevertheless, both companies offer their drivers generous liability insurance policies.
Contact Us Today
You may have heard it before: “We’re not like other personal injury law firms.” Yeah, yeah… But at Henderson Law, when we say it, we mean it. What sets us apart is that we have represented both plaintiffs and defendants. So no matter which side of the table you are sitting, we know the other side’s strategy because we have used it before ourselves at some point or other. And that gives you a critical advantage.
If you have suffered a spinal cord injury and wish to discuss it with one of our attorneys , contact us online or call (410) 721-1979 to set up a consultation with us. We serve clients throughout Maryland (including Baltimore and Annapolis) and Washington D.C. area.
Henderson Law is accepting new cases in the District of Columbia and Maryland. Henderson Law is willing to take new clients across the State of Maryland, including, but not limited to, new cases arising in the following cities: Annapolis, Crofton, Bowie, Upper Marlboro, Crownsville, Davidsonville, Edgewater, Millersville, Odenton, Severna Park, and Pasadena. Please call Henderson Law for an initial consultation.