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What Damages Can Be Recovered for a Spinal Cord Injury?

July 27, 2023 Legal Team

Spinal cord injuries can have life-altering impacts. Fortunately, some of those losses can be recouped in a personal injury claim. Damages awarded in personal injury cases typically fall into three main categories: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.

What Damages Can Be Recovered for a Spinal Cord Injury

Economic Damages

Economic damages are monetary losses suffered due to an accident, and can be calculated objectively by looking at receipts or other financial statements. The most common types of economic damages include the following:

Medical Expenses: Medical costs encompass immediate treatments such as hospital stays and surgeries as well as long-term expenses, such as physical therapy appointments, medications, and home healthcare services. Additionally, your home or vehicle may need modifications – for example, ramps for wheelchair use – and compensation can be claimed for this as well.

Lost Wages: This refers to money you’ve lost due to your inability to work following the injury. If your spinal injury keeps you out of work, you can claim compensation for this. Your damages should also include missed bonuses and commission.

Lost Earning Capacity: This is future income that you would have been able to earn had you not been involved in the accident. It considers factors like career growth prospects or educational opportunities and compensates you for missing out on these opportunities going forward.

Property Damage: Property damage refers to any harm caused to your personal belongings during the accident. For example, if your spinal injury resulted from a car accident, you could recover costs for repair or replacement. 

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages refer to compensation for subjective and intangible losses that don’t have a direct cost but still affect your life significantly. They most commonly include the following:

Physical Pain and Suffering: Damage awards for physical pain and suffering consider immediate discomfort experienced from the injury, as well as chronic issues arising in the future.

Emotional Pain and Suffering: Often referred to as emotional distress, emotional pain and suffering, though intangible, still causes a severe impact on victims’ lives. The injured party may suffer from anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after the accident, and can be compensated for these issues. 

Diminished Quality Of Life: A serious injury like this often leads to reduced enjoyment of life, as certain hobbies or activities once pursued enthusiastically could become difficult if not impossible after the injury.

Punitive Damages

These damages are awarded in cases where the defendant’s conduct was found to be particularly egregious. They are designed to punish the defendant for their behavior and deter similar conduct in the future:

Punitive damages will only be awarded in “….cases in which the defendant’s wrongful conduct was guided by evil motives. Thus, to obtain punitive damages, plaintiff must prove that defendant’s evil hand was guided by an evil mind. The evil mind which will justify the imposition of punitive damages may be manifested in either of two ways. 

It may be found where defendant intended to injure the plaintiff. It may also be found where, although not intending to cause injury, defendant consciously pursued a course of conduct knowing that it created a substantial risk of significant harm to others.”

How Your Role in The Accident Affects Damages

In many cases, there won’t be one person who is entirely at fault; there might be multiple parties who contributed to your injury, including you. Fortunately, Arizona follows pure comparative negligence when dealing with personal injury claims, which allows you to seek compensation even if you’re partially at fault for the incident:

“The defense of contributory negligence or of assumption of risk is in all cases a question of fact and shall at all times be left to the jury. If the jury applies either defense, the claimant’s action is not barred, but the full damages shall be reduced in proportion to the relative degree of the claimant’s fault which is a proximate cause of the injury or death, if any.” 

For example, if you are awarded $100,000 in damages and deemed to be 20% at fault for the incident, you would be able to claim 80% of the damages, or $80,000. 

Your ability to obtain compensation following this type of serious injury depends on the specifics of your case. If you need help, don’t hesitate to contact our Phoenix spinal cord injury attorneys to schedule a free consultation.