Central Cord Syndrome is one of the most devastating injuries an individual can face, particularly because it often represents a life-long disability. While the severity of such injuries can vary, even a mild injury to the central cord can mean a lifetime of rehabilitation, therapy, and pain. For that reason, Los Angeles spinal cord injury lawyers in cases involving these kinds of injuries can often recover $1 million or more in damages for their clients.
Damages are Used to Cover Legal Fees
While $1 million seems like a great deal of money, even in relation to the experience of suffering a spinal cord injury, the plaintiff must realize he won’t see all of that money. In fact, there are a number of debts to be paid from that total sum, before the plaintiff will receive his share. A personal injury case involving extensive injuries, such as central cord syndrome, can become quite costly in itself.
As the attorney tells the plaintiff upon accepting the case, he will work on a contingency. While that guarantees the plaintiff won’t have to pay the attorney unless the attorney wins the case, it also means the attorney will be entitled to a percentage of the money awarded in damages. The plaintiff will be made aware of the exact percentage ahead of time, but that can easily be forgotten, during the excitement of winning the case.
Aside from attorney’s fees, the $1 million will also be used to pay court fees and expenses. Among the expenses are the costs of interviewing witnesses, paying damage experts to testify, and paying medical experts to testify.
These expenses will have to be paid, whether the plaintiff wins the case or not. For this reason, personal injury lawyers are very selective in which cases they take on, choosing those cases with the best chances to win. Similarly, an individual seeking a lawyer to represent him in a central cord syndrome case will want an experienced lawyer with an excellent track record. Both the plaintiff and his potential attorney are looking for the best possible outcome, which means a maximum payout for damages.
Typical Damages in a Spinal Cord Injury Case
There are a number of areas in which a personal injury lawyer will attempt to recover damages for his client. One such area is the loss of earnings, which can be significant, depending on the severity of the injury. Typically, the attorney will bring in a vocational expert, someone who can testify to what the plaintiff might have earned within his lifetime, if the accident hadn’t occurred. In cases where the upper portion of the body is still mobile, the individual may still be able to hold down a part-time job, but even that will likely pay less than the plaintiff’s former career.
Life care costs are also sought as damages, because spinal cord injury patients almost always require some form of home care throughout their lives. This means hiring a nurse and possibly a housekeeper to assist with the individual’s day to day living requirements. A life care planner can testify to the costs involved in this kind of situation and explain exactly what the needs of the patient will be.
Pain and suffering is included in every personal injury case, but, where spinal cord injury is severe, it’s an especially poignant issue. For a central cord syndrome patient, the loss of enjoyment of life is significant. While a damage expert isn’t permitted to testify to this part, expert testimony on hedonic damage is allowed. The expert uses economic studies to quantify the reduced quality of life for the plaintiff and can equal the loss of earnings potential in many cases.
By the time the aforementioned experts have testified, the total damages awarded to the plaintiff may well exceed $1 million. Depending on the circumstances of the case, it’s not unusual for the plaintiff to receive an award of almost $3 million from the jury. While the jury may not always grant the total sum requested by the plaintiff’s lawyer, an experienced attorney will usually be able to get close to the anticipated sum. While receiving a high award of damages can’t undo the injury, it can help the victim live free of financial concerns caused by the injury.