Spinal cord injuries can be caused by a variety of serious accidents, including car accidents, work accidents, sports or falls. The recovery damages, as a result, can be very high, because many spinal cord injuries cause a diminished quality of life. When it comes to who is responsible, the fault will be determined by either the insurance adjustors or in court.
To prove fault or responsibility, you have to prove negligence. Negligence is the failure to show a reasonable amount of care when then results in an injury to a second party. If an opposing driver did not exercise caution and ran through a red light, hitting your car and causing you injury, the other driver would be seen as negligent, and responsible for the resulting damages.
Comparative Negligence in California
California follows the rules of comparative negligence, which means that the fault can be divided between the two people if that’s what the investigation shows. The fault will be finalized in percentages, and the percentage of fault that you are found at will be deducted from the total amount of recovery.
Proving Negligence and Fault
Once the accident occurs, the injured party will go to a hospital to be seen by medical professionals. The police are also called, and they will do their own investigation of the scene. This includes taking statements from both parties, interviewing witnesses of the accident, and filing a police report. This report is available to the lawyers of both parties.
The insurance companies will also do their own assessment of fault. They will look at:
● Photos of the accident scene
● Photos of the damages to the cars
● Witness accounts
● Police Reports
● Medical findings that document injuries
There are a few things to keep in mind when talking to an insurance adjuster, but if you have an attorney, you won’t have to worry about accidentally admitting fault. Assuming that you didn’t admit fault in any way or say something to jeopardize your case, the two insurance companies will come to their determination of fault, and they will calculate your damages. However, if the two insurance companies cannot see eye to eye and don’t decide on a final at-fault percentage and a number for total damages, the court would help come to a decision.
What Happens In Court?
When you go to court, both lawyers will argue their case in regards to fault and damages. The court will look at all of the evidence and make a decision as to who is mostly at fault, and what the percentage of fault is. Once that is decided, they can rule as well as to the total number of damages that can be recovered. On behalf of the party with the spinal injury, it will depend on the severity. Spinal injuries can include herniated discs, partial paralysis, and full paralysis. This may change the number slightly, but the same things will be looked at to determine the total damages.
How to Determine Damages
Damages for spinal injuries include:
● Medical bills – hospital bills, physical therapy, doctors visits as a result of the injury, and the cost of medically necessary items such as a back brace, wheelchair, or even adjusting your living situation so that you can access your home easily is considered an economic damage.
● Loss of income – This is also an economic damage. An expert will show the court how they calculated the loss of income you will suffer in the future, as well as the loss of income you suffered while you were out of work for your injury. If you cannot go back to your old job, they will calculate the difference in income.
This will be added to general damages. General damages include:
● Emotional distress – this includes any psychiatric troubles that may result from the accident, which can include depression.
● Pain and suffering – this is determined by multiplying the special damages by a number between 2 and 5. This scale will be based on the severity of pain and suffering you are going through as a result of your injury.
● Diminished quality of life – this is about the things in life that you used to be able to enjoy, and now cannot as a result of your injury. Things such as walking, holding items, being close to family, playing with your children are all things that would be included.
As fault is determined by the court, the parties will receive their compensation, minus their percentage for which they are found to be responsible.
Overall, this means that both parties can be found responsible for a spinal injury. It is entirely based on who is at fault for the accident, and what is given in damages after that will be based on the severity of the spinal injury.