If you sustained a spinal injury in an accident in Nevada, we can file a negligence lawsuit against the at-fault parties. To prove negligence, we must show that your injuries were caused by the defendant breaching their duty of care towards you.
In cases we see, spinal injuries most commonly result from:
- e-scooter, bike, or car accidents,
- slip and falls,
- swimming pool accidents,
- sports accidents,
- falling from stairs, roofs, or construction scaffolds, or
- medical malpractice1
What money you can get
In every spinal injury lawsuit, we pursue the following compensatory damages:
- Economic damages – These compensate your concrete financial losses from medical treatment, lost wages, and reduced earning capacity.
- Non-economic damages – This comprises your hard-to-calculate losses like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and emotional distress.
In the rare event your case goes to trial, we would also ask the court to award you punitive damages to punish the defendant.
If you were partly to blame
Even if you were partly at fault for your spinal injuries (such as by being distracted), Nevada’s modified comparative negligence law permits you to still recover damages. The only condition is that you were no more than 50% to blame.2
The time limit to sue
The statute of limitations to bring a negligence lawsuit is usually two years after the accident. Though you may have longer if it took a while for your injuries to manifest.3
Our caring Nevada personal injury lawyers know all of the tricks insurance companies use to avoid their responsibilities to pay you. We will not let them do it. In this article, our attorneys discuss:
- 1. Common spinal cord injuries
- 2. Available spine injury treatments
- 3. Potential compensation
- 4. What if I signed a release waiver?
- Additional resources
Accidents can cause devastating and painful back injuries to one or more of the following parts of your spine:
- cervical (upper)
- thoracic (mid-back)
- lumbar (hips and legs)
- sacral (buttocks and pelvis)
Typical injuries that our Nevada personal injury attorneys see include:
- herniated discs
- rotator cuff tear
- rib fractures
- fractured vertebrae
- fractured coccyx (tailbone)
- vertical compression fracture
- spinal stenosis
- piriformis syndrome
- degeneration disc disease
- paraplegia (if the spinal column is severed below the arms)
- quadriplegia (if the spinal column is severed above the arms)
In addition, spine injuries can cause other parts of the body to malfunction as well. Depending on where the injury is, back problems can impair:
- bladder and bowel function,
- sexual function, fertility, and
- the ability to walk.
Injuries to the spinal cord — protected by the vertebral column — vary significantly in severity. Spinal cord injuries are typically more severe the higher on the spinal cord they occur.
Southern Nevada has several medical providers specializing in treating back injuries and pain. Depending on the nature of the injury, you may be able to benefit from any of the following ten interventional therapies:
- trigger point injections: corticosteroids
- root blocks: injection of local anesthetic where nerves exit the spinal column
- ganglion impar blocks: blocking nerve impulses in the pelvic and rectal area
- joint injections: steroids to treat inflammation
- facet injections: injections of local anesthetic on either side of the vertebrae
- intrathecal pumps: a device that delivers medicine to the spine
- spinal cord stimulators: a device that sends electrical currents to the spine
- radiofrequency ablation: using heat to reduce pain
- stem cell treatments
- experimental treatments
To manage pain, opioids are often an effective option. Common ones include:
- Hydrocodone (a.k.a. Vicodin or Hycodan)
- Oxycodone (a.k.a. Oxycontin or Percoset)
- Hydromorphone (a.k.a. Dilaudid)
- Fentanyl (a.k.a. Duragesic)
However, both you and your doctor need to closely monitor opioid use to help ensure that you do not succumb to dependency and drug abuse.
Below are many of the expenses you can be compensated for following a spinal cord injury in Nevada.
3.1. Medical bills
Medical bills for spinal cord injury victims can include:
- hospital stays
- rehab center stays
- clinical visits
- physical therapy
- home health care
- fertility treatment, such as sperm retrieval and IVF
- medical equipment, including wheelchairs and other devices to make homes ADA-accessible such as stair-lifts
Often, the biggest cost for spinal cord injury victims is continuing medical care. Over the course of a lifetime, medical care can reach into the millions of dollars.
3.2. Lost wages
When you miss work for your injuries while you are recuperating, the settlement may include money to compensate you for the following:
- lost wages or salary
- lost tips
- lost bonuses
- lost opportunities for promotions and advancement
The purpose of lawsuits is to make you whole. Receiving compensation for lost work helps put you closer to your pre-accident situation.
3.3. Loss of future earnings
Permanent back injuries prevent you from ever working again or from doing the type of work you did prior to the accident. So when you sustain a permanent disability and sue, you should pursue compensation to cover the following:
- loss of projected wages or salary
- loss of projected tips
- loss of projected bonuses
- loss of projected opportunities for promotions and advancement
When you receive compensation for your loss of future earnings for the rest of your life, you can concentrate on adapting to your “new normal” without having to worry about where the next paycheck is coming from.
3.4. Pain and suffering
There is no definitive way to try to calculate the extent of your anguish. One method Nevada attorneys use is to multiply the economic damages (such as medical bills) by a certain number like 1.5.
Another method is to attribute a dollar amount to each day of your pain and suffering, such as $100; then that sum would be multiplied by the number of days you are suffering.
In most cases, pain and suffering damages far exceed all your other damages put together.
3.5. Punitive damages
If a case goes to trial and you win, the court may also award you punitive damages. The purpose of punitive damages is not to compensate you but rather to punish the defendant for the reckless or malicious behavior that caused your injury.
In many cases, punitive damages are much bigger than compensatory damages.4
If you signed a release waiver immunizing the at-fault party from negligence liability for your spinal injury, Nevada law will void the release if:
- Less than 60 days have passed since you signed the release, and
- You signed the release within 30 days of your accident and you did not have an attorney review it.5
Even if the release waiver you signed is enforceable, you may be able to sue on other grounds.
For more in-depth information, refer to these scholarly articles:
- Malpractice litigation following spine surgery – Journal of Neurosurgery.
- Reason for Lawsuit in Spinal Cord Injury Affects Final Outcome – Spine.
- Litigation risks despite guideline adherence for acute spinal cord injury: time is spine – Journal of Neurosurgery.
- Litigation Of Missed Cervical Spine Injuries In Patients Presenting With Blunt Traumatic Injury – Neurosurgery.
- Litigation involving sports-related spinal injuries: a comprehensive review of reported legal claims in the United States in the past 70 years – The Spine Journal.
Contact our Las Vegas spinal cord injury attorneys to discuss your legal options. If you are an employee who was injured on the job, refer to our articles on filing workers’ compensation claims in Nevada.
- American Elevator Co. v. Briscoe (1977) 93 Nev. 665, 572 P.2d 534 (“The employee sustained serious spinal injuries after riding in the elevator while it performed a series of jarring motions. The jury awarded damages to the employee. The elevator maintenance company argued that the trial court erred in giving a jury instruction on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur and that appellants should have been allowed to admit the employee’s polygraph into evidence. On appeal, the court affirmed the judgment. The court concluded that the res ipsa loquitur instruction was proper because there was sufficient evidence proffered to allow the jury to infer that only the company that had installed the elevator and the elevator maintenance company had performed any maintenance on the elevator. There was also a reasonable showing that there were variances from the recognized maintenance standards and that the variances could have caused the injuries. Accordingly, the res ipsa loquitur instruction was proper. Finally, the court concluded that the trial court was within its authority when it determined that the foundation for the polygraph results was unreliable and that the evidence was scientifically unreliable.“).
- NRS 41.141.
- NRS 11.190.
- NRS 42.005.
- NRS 10.185.