One of the most devastating injuries a person can endure is a spinal cord injury. These injuries are often completely life-changing as they have the potential to affect the victim’s ability to move, feel, and control their bodies.
Victims’ everyday functioning can be turned upside down as they have to learn a completely different way of living. According to the World Health Organization, people with a spinal cord injury are two to five times more likely to die prematurely than people without a spinal cord injury.
Victims with damage to their spinal cord typically require extensive medical treatment due to their catastrophic injury. The cost of this treatment often places an enormous financial burden on the victims and their families.
When a spinal cord injury patient dies after beginning to receive treatment, the medical bills can be devastating for the patient’s family.
The deceased victim’s family is the plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit. If successful, the court will order the defendant to pay the plaintiff’s claimed damages.
The determination of the value of the award for damages potentially includes the following factors:
According to Funeralocity, the average cost for a funeral in North Carolina is just over $8,000 and varies depending on the city, elected services, and service provider. Accidents that cause spinal cord injuries are unplanned events that can leave families unable to pay for funeral arrangements.
Not all spinal cord injury victims die close to home. The cost to bring them home varies wildly depending upon the following criteria:
Direct burials without the cost of a funeral added range between around $1,200 – $1,600. Cremation is approximately just under $1,000.
The cost for each method fluctuates depending on location and the type of coffin or urn chosen.
Accidents that result in spinal cord injuries are often horrific, especially when high speeds or falls are involved. If the accident involved motor vehicles, the advancements in safety gear, emergency medical care, and technology today allow many people to survive the initial crash.
Unfortunately, some still succumb to injuries and die in the hospital. Any treatment they received before their death, including transportation to the hospital, will be charged to their estate.
While families are not responsible for paying these expenses, medical bills are expensive and would take a large portion, if not all, of the deceased’s estate. Some families could be left with nothing, especially if assets were only in the deceased’s name.
The income the deceased would have earned if the accident had not happened is also calculated in a claim for damages. This amount is significant to families who depend on the victim as the household’s primary income source.
The family can also receive financial compensation for any pain the victim experienced from the accident until death. Some deaths happen instantly, while other victims experience extreme pain from their injuries, and they may have suffered for a long time before help arrived or if they were trapped somewhere.
Family members are owed compensation for the loss of their loved one. Non-economic damages are for the loss of the individual.
For example, a child who lost a parent also loses a guide, counselor, and comforter, while a spouse loses a companion, support, and consortium. They are losing future memories and will suffer emotionally for the rest of their lives.
The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that carry signals from the brain to the body and back to the brain again. These signals control a person’s motor control and sensory functions.
A spinal cord injury is any damage caused to the spinal cord, and it is serious because these crucial signals that give a person the ability to move and feel would be disrupted. Depending on the severity of the injury, the damage may be permanent.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the most common causes of spinal cord injuries in the United States are motor vehicle accidents and catastrophic falls.
Damage to the spinal cord also occurs from acts of violence, especially gunshot wounds and assaults, sports injuries, industrial accidents, diseases or conditions that affect the spinal cord, surgical injuries, and other less common causes.
Most spinal cord injuries occur in people between the ages of 16 and 30 and after 65 from catastrophic falls. Not wearing proper safety gear, such as seatbelts in cars or helmets, braces, or padding while playing sports, increases the risk of spinal cord injury.
Alcohol use and genetic risk of developing certain diseases also play a significant factor in the likelihood of receiving damage to the spine.
Certain diseases have the potential to cause damage to the spinal cord. These diseases and disorders include the following:
The symptoms of a spinal cord injury depend on the location and severity of the injury. The most severe injuries affect the body’s ability to control breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, the bladder, and regulation of the bowels.
Generally speaking, the symptoms will occur below the site of the injury. For example, damage to the lumbar spine may result in paraplegia (paralysis of the legs), while damage to the cervical spine would cause quadriplegia (paralysis of the arms and legs).
Paralysis is typically the main symptom that people think of when they hear about spinal cord injuries, but there are other symptoms as well, such as the following:
A spinal cord injury can be either complete or incomplete.
A complete spinal cord injury means that the damage to the spinal cord is permanent. An incomplete spinal cord injury is partial damage to the cord.
Some injuries result in a total loss of movement and sensation below the injury, while other injuries leave the victims with partial sensation and partial function.
Victims of spinal cord injuries statistically have a reduced life expectancy. The most common causes of death after a spinal cord injury are as follows:
North Carolina has a statute of limitations in place for wrongful death claims. Under North Carolina’s General Statutes § 1-53(4), wrongful death claims must be filed within two years of the date of death of the victim.
However, a wrongful death lawsuit cannot be filed if the claim surpasses the amount of time allowed by another statute of limitations if the deceased had survived.
For example, if your family member survived for several months after the initial incident that caused their injury, the claim for damages would fall under the statute of limitations for a personal injury.
According to the personal injury statute of limitations, you would have three years from the date of the injury to file a claim for compensation. If you do not file within those three years, you will be ineligible from seeking any compensation for damages, even if you file within two years of your family member’s death.
A wrongful death attorney will be able to help you understand the timelines for filing a claim, and they will discuss your legal rights and options with you.
At Tatum & Atkinson: The Heavy Hitters, we listen to fully understand your unique circumstances and needs. We are dedicated to discovering every detail that will assist in achieving the highest possible financial compensation for your losses in order to help your family.
We work together to collect every piece of evidence to build a case that fully covers all the expenses you have incurred as well as the future losses you will have to endure due to the loss of your loved one.
We are fully aware that there is no amount of money that will make up for the loss of your family member. Our desire for you is to ease the financial burden that comes with such a tragedy.
Many of our clients are able to feel a sense of closure after the lawsuit has been settled. Holding the person or company responsible for causing your loved one’s death will hopefully also make necessary changes happen in order to prevent a similar situation from happening again.
If your loved one was catastrophically injured due to someone else’s recklessness, carelessness, or negligent actions and tragically died as a result of their spinal cord injury, contact the North Carolina wrongful death spinal cord injury attorneys at Tatum & Atkinson.
We have over 65 years of combined legal experience and skills to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident and build a strong case on your behalf. We are known as the Heavy Hitters because we fight hard to get you the maximum possible compensation for your losses.
Call (800) LAW-0804 today for a free consultation to discuss your situation. We are always honest about your legal options and how we can assist you.