A spinal cord injury changes the life of not just the injured person, but also that person’s family, friends, and coworkers. Everyone must adapt to the new “normal” of an injury that frequently leads to partial or total paralysis, leaving the victim confined to a wheelchair or other mobility device. There are new routines, new ways of performing daily tasks, new health concerns, new ways of getting around, new modifications to living and working spaces. With all of these new challenges comes one more: large, unexpected, and open-ended expenses.
Fortunately for Seattle residents, the region has a well-organized and coordinated system for supporting people living with spinal cord injuries. And still, even with our area’s incredible resources and knowledgeable healthcare professionals, victims of a recent spinal cord injury and their families can still find themselves feeling overwhelmed with anxiety about the future. Considering the potentially massive cost of living with spinal cord injury and its secondary health complications, financial worries often take front and center stage.
Frequently, spinal cord injuries result from an accident that wasn’t the victim’s fault. When that happens, the victim may have rights to significant compensation under Washington State law. If an accident in the Seattle area has left you or a loved one facing a spinal cord injury, contact the skilled Seattle spinal cord injury attorneys at Boohoff Law today to learn how we can help you obtain the compensation you and your family need to face the challenges ahead.
Contact us today – call (877) 999-9999 or email us. We’re available 24/7!
About Boohoff Law Seattle Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys
Attorney Tatiana Boohoff and her team at Boohoff Law have represented severely injured victims of someone else’s careless or reckless actions for more than a decade. They have extensive experience, in particular, in seeking compensation on behalf of spinal cord injury victims and their families.
These are not easy cases to handle. Spinal cord injuries involve complex and at times unpredictable medical issues. Lawyers like the team at Boohoff Law succeed on behalf of their clients only by having immersed themselves in the details of these injuries, gaining priceless knowledge of the terminology and modes of treatment that helps them evaluate and prove their clients’ long term needs.
Oftentimes, insurance companies balk at the price tag that comes with caring for and adapting to a spinal cord injury. Tatiana and her colleagues do not fear going toe-to-toe with expensive defense attorneys and sophisticated insurance claims adjusters whose mission is to reduce the size of a claim. When spinal cord injury victims and their families have rights to significant compensation, Boohoff Law has the skill, know-how, and resources to fight to recover every penny of compensation available.
What Kinds of Damages Can I Recover in a Seattle Spinal Cord Injury Case?
Depending on your spinal cord injury case, you can recover:
- Loss of Earning Capacity – Loss of earning capacity is the first loss considered in a spinal cord injury case. Vocational experts will testify about how much of anticipated lifetime earnings someone will lose due to the injury. Some survivors can work, often after years of therapy and rehab, but many cannot ever return. The vocational expert will testify as to what the victim would have earned without the injury and then to the losses of that income from the injury. Stay at home or caregiver victims will have their replacement costs calculated.
- Life Care Costs – Living with spinal cord injuries requires varying degrees of ongoing care throughout the victim’s life. These costs can include housekeepers, attendants, medical services, and so on. A life care planner will be required to testify to future needs. Although family members may help, the job usually requires outside services. Even with a family member, the life planner will calculate the costs of those services if the injured party needs to obtain them from a third party.
- Pain and Suffering – Pain and suffering and the loss of enjoyment of life are also compensable damages in a spinal injury case. In Washington, pain and suffering damages go with other noneconomic damages, including mental anguish, disability or disfigurement, emotional distress, and loss of consortium. Experts will testify to the extent that the victim’s quality of life has been diminished and will assign a number of that loss.
- Medical Costs – Medical costs in a spinal cord injury case can reach millions of dollars. You’ll need to pay for the initial hospitalization, all of the treatments and rehab, and supportive equipment (like wheelchairs) you may need throughout your life.
An experienced spinal cord attorney will know how to explain these losses to a jury so that you might recover a significant sum for your injuries.
Common Accidents That Lead to Spinal Cord Injuries
According to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic:
“A traumatic spinal cord injury may stem from a sudden, traumatic blow to your spine that fractures, dislocates, crushes or compresses one or more of your vertebrae. It also may result from a gunshot or knife wound that penetrates and cuts your spinal cord.”
In our practice at Boohoff Law, clients come to us after having sustained spinal cord injuries in a wide variety of accidents. Some of the most common accidents we see in our practice that lead to the sort of injury described by the Mayo Clinic include:
- Motor vehicle accidents. A collision in a motor vehicle subjects a person’s body to sometimes-extreme and unnatural forces that cause damage to the spinal column and spinal cord. According to the Mayo Clinic, these accidents are the single most common cause of spinal cord injuries in the United States every year, accounting for nearly half of all injuries.
- Falls (especially Construction Accidents). Falls account for fifteen percent of spinal cord injuries annually, according to the Mayo Clinic. In our experience at Boohoff Law, many of those falls occur from heights on construction sites, although sometimes falls that seem less severe cause these injuries (particularly in older victims).
- Sports and recreation. Some of the most common athletic/recreational activities that can result in spinal cord injury include riding bikes/ATVs, diving into shallow water, falling from backyard trampolines, and high impact sports like football and ice hockey.
- Boating accidents. Passengers of a boat that unexpectedly runs aground or collides with another vessel often get thrown from their feet and against fixed objects, resulting in serious injuries that include spinal cord damage.
These are just some of the types of accidents that can lead to spinal cord injury. No matter how your or your loved one’s injury occurred, the team at Boohoff Law has the skill and experience to help you recover the compensation you need to put yourself on sound financial footing for this next chapter of your life.
Financial Needs Associated With a Spinal Cord Injury
Treating and living with a spinal cord injury comes with a host of unexpected costs for the victim and the victim’s family. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center at the University of Alabama, the average lifetime cost of treating and living with a spinal cord injury (not counting lost wages and other “indirect” costs) is at least $1 million for even the most “minor” injury that causes only limited impairment. Spinal cord injury victims who suffer paralyzing injuries can expect average lifetime costs, discounted to present value, in the range of $2 million to $4 million during their lifetimes.
What accounts for these large lifetime costs? There are various factors, including:
- Medical care, including the direct costs of treating spinal cord injury, the costs associated with secondary health conditions that result from the spinal cord injury, and the costs of physical, occupational, and psychological therapy.
- Home modifications, including installation of ramps, retrofitting of bathrooms, and other modifications to a home to allow the spinal cord injury victim to get around. In some cases, these modifications simply are not possible and the victim and victim’s family must move to a new home that can accommodate the person’s needs.
- Mobility modifications, including wheelchairs and other mobility devices, retrofitting existing automobiles and/or purchasing automobiles that can accommodate wheelchairs, and transportation services.
- Services, to make up for a spinal cord injury victim’s inability to perform certain chores or other life functions, such as household maintenance or certain childcare tasks.
As we noted above, the categories above merely account for the “fixed,” predictable costs of treating and living with a spinal cord injury. They do not include the impact on a person’s income from sustaining a spinal cord injury that limits their job functions, nor do they attempt to put a dollar value on the pain and suffering that accompanies the life disruption caused by a spinal cord injury.
In a legal action under Washington State law seeking compensation for spinal cord injuries, a skilled spinal cord injury attorney will typically seek to recover both fixed (a.k.a. “economic” or “special”) damages and the more difficult-to-quantify (a.k.a. “non-economic” or “general”) damages. Unlike in some states, however, Washington State law caps non-economic damages at a maximum of 43 percent of the average annual wage in Washington (an amount set by law) multiplied by the spinal cord injury victim’s life expectancy at the time of the injury (which is a minimum of 15 years). Washington law also does not provide for the recovery of punitive (or “exemplary”) damages, which are also available in many other states.
These limits can make it difficult, but by no means impossible, for spinal cord injury victims and their families to obtain the financial resources they need. Hiring an experienced, skilled spinal cord injury lawyer with detailed familiarity with the costs of treating and living with a spinal cord injury gives victims and their families the best chance to recover compensation sufficient to meet their current and future expenses.
Who Can You Hold to Account for a Seattle Spinal Cord Injury?
As the list of accidents above suggests, there are lots of ways a spinal cord injury can happen. By the same token, there are lots of parties who may have potential legal liability for causing an accident that leads to a spinal cord injury. In our practice at Boohoff Law, some of the most common parties who have exposure to legal liability include:
- Motor vehicle drivers and their employers, for making poor decisions behind the wheel leading to an auto accident in which someone sustains a spinal cord injury;
- Manufacturers of consumer products, for putting “defective” products into the “stream of commerce” that fail, causing a fall or other incident in which someone sustains the injury, such as manufacturers of fall-prevention safety equipment that does not perform as it should; and
- Property owners, who fail to live up to their obligation to keep visitors to their properties safe from known hazards. This includes owners of swimming pools and other bodies of water who fail to post appropriate signage warning of the dangers of diving.
More generally, an experienced Seattle spinal cord injury lawyer will assess a case by asking: Who made a poor decision or took a careless or reckless action that led to my client’s injury? And then, having identify one or more parties who fit that description, the lawyer will also ask: Among those people, who has insurance coverage or sufficient financial resources to pay damages to my client? By digging deep into both of those questions, the attorney will (hopefully) identify a party and a source of payment that can meet the needs of someone facing a life transformed by a spinal cord injury.
Seattle Spinal Cord Injury FAQs
Q. What is a spinal cord injury?
A spinal cord injury, for purposes of a lawsuit, is any damage to the central nervous system in the spinal cord that results in a loss of function or mobility. The injury interrupts the sending of signals between the muscles that move the body and the brain that directs those movements. This interruption can lead to lifelong and life-altering changes to the quality of life available to the victim.
The spinal cord injury can happen from trauma or illness. It can result in permanent or temporary paralysis, loss of sensation, bowel or bladder control problems, and other similar symptoms. Typical traumas that cause spinal cord injuries include car accidents, violence, gunshots, sports injuries, or surgical accidents. There is currently no cure for spinal cord injuries.
Q. What is the average settlement for a Seattle spinal cord injury?
Because spinal cord injuries often leave the victim with a severe life-long disability, settlements or awards in the amount of $1 million or more are not uncommon. Of course, since most personal injury cases, including spinal cord injury cases, get billed on a contingency fee basis, the victim will not receive the entire amount. The attorney’s fees (usually around one-third of the settlement or award), court expenses, and out-of-pocket expenses like medical costs will come out of this amount.
Q. How is a Seattle spinal cord injury case proven?
Spinal cord injuries may occur due to negligence or intentional conduct, such as assault. As is true with all negligence cases, the victim must prove that the party who injured the victim owed the victim a duty of care. The victim must then show that the party breached the duty, leading to the injury and that the victim suffered damages thereby.
However, given the nature of spinal cord injuries, it is also possible that the victim’s injury was intentional. In that case, the victim of the assault and battery can place criminal charges and sue in civil court for damages, assuming the criminal defendant is not judgment proof. In such a civil case, the victim must prove that the offender assaulted and intentionally caused the victim to anticipate harm and then committed battery in that the offender caused harm to the victim. These harmful acts could include striking the victim with an object, shooting the victim, or pushing or shoving the victim, causing a fall.
Q. What are the typical effects of a spinal cord injury?
A spinal cord injury—damage to any part of the cord or the nerves at the end of the spinal column—can cause permanent changes in the strength, sensation, and other body functions anywhere below the site of the injury. The overall impact of the spinal cord injury depends on two issues: where on the spinal cord the injury occurred and how severe the injury was. The lowest spot on your spinal cord that did not sustain damage is the “neurological level” of your injury.
The severity of the injury is called its completeness and will be either:
- Complete – no feeling and no motor function below the site of the injury
- Incomplete – some sensation or motor function below the injury site. The incompleteness can vary in degree.
The injury may result in any of the following symptoms:
- Loss of movement or paralysis
- Loss of or altered feeling, including feeling heat, cold, or touch
- Balance problems
- Changes in sexual function and fertility
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Chronic pain
- Difficulty in breathing or coughing
Q. What kinds of paralysis can result from a spinal cord injury?
The location on the spinal cord generally controls the extent of the paralysis. Lower injuries will lead to paraplegia which affects all or part of the trunk, legs, and pelvic organs. A higher injury may result in tetraplegia or quadriplegia, affecting the arms, hands, trunk, legs, and pelvic organs.
Contact a Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer as Soon as Possible
Spinal cord injuries throw victims and their families into virtually instant turmoil. The victim almost always ends up in the hospital after the accident that causes the injury, and that hospitalization causes enormous stress in and of itself. Then there is almost always a period during which the victim and family struggle to come to terms with the enormity of a spinal cord injury diagnosis: what it means for their lives, dreams, and finances. The strain is immense.
During that extremely difficult period, someone might not think to call a lawyer right away. That’s understandable, but at Boohoff Law we encourage people to try and get an experienced spinal cord injury lawyer involved as soon as possible. Here’s why:
- In Washington State, the general statute of limitations on personal injury claims is three years from the date of the accident. When you face the challenges of adapting to life with a spinal cord injury, that isn’t a lot of time. The sooner you can get a lawyer involved, the more time the lawyer has to gather evidence and research legal and insurance issues, and the better your chances of recovering the compensation you need and deserve.
Insurance companies fear spinal cord injuries, because they know they may have to pay millions of dollars to victims and their families. To limit their potential exposure, insurance companies will frequently engage in tactics aimed at “blaming the victim” or convincing the victim to accept a “quickie” settlement that might seem like a lot of money but generally will not cover all of the victim’s expected expenses. Instead of trying to contend with insurance companies on your own, let a lawyer who knows the ins-and-outs of the costs of treating and living with spinal cord injury handle negotiations on your behalf. There is a much better chance you will receive the money you need to rebuild your life if you trust in experienced spinal cord injury attorneys like Tatiana Boohoff and her team.
Boohoff Law—Seattle’s Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys
Tatiana Boohoff and her colleagues at Boohoff Law have committed their careers to helping victims of unexpected accidents and tragedies. They have particular skill and knowledge in obtaining maximum compensation for those facing life with a spinal cord injury. Let them help you take the necessary steps to put you on firm financial ground so that you can focus your energies on learning to live with a spinal cord injury. Contact Boohoff Law or call us at (877) 999-9999 today to schedule a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation with a member of our team.
“Boohoff Law, Definitely stands behind Integrity the staff is extremely professional. Tatiana is not only a fantastic attorney in her expertise however she’s also down-to-earth, truly a people person. I believe in establishing relationships in any type of business that you do, they definitely bring that to the table. Thank you for all your help in my time of need. I would highly recommend this firm to represent you.”
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Boohoff Law P.A. Seattle Location
2200 6th Avenue, Suite 768
Seattle, WA 98121