Accident victims who sustain spinal injuries in Las Vegas may be eligible to file a Nevada negligence lawsuit and receive compensation for all their:
- Doctor’s bills in Nevada,
- Lost wages in Nevada,
- Loss of future earnings in Nevada, and/or
- Pain and suffering in Nevada
People hurt their backs from all types of accidents, such as car crashes, slip-and-falls, work injuries, and medical malpractice.1 You might think the person or entity that injured you will do the right thing, but that is not always the case:
Insurance company adjusters are trained to find ways to deny your claim. They prey on your immediate need for money for your medical bills to make you settle for far less than what your claim is worth.
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. What money you can get for a spine injury
Accidents can cause devastating and painful back injuries to one or more of the following parts of the spine:
- cervical (upper)
- thoracic (mid-back)
- lumbar (hips and legs)
- sacral (buttocks and pelvis)
Injuries to the spinal cord — protected by the vertebral column — vary significantly in severity. In some situations, the spinal cord is severed completely or damaged severely, totally cutting off sensation to nerves below that level of the body. Spinal cord injuries are typically more severe the higher on the spinal cord they occur.
Typical injuries that 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.
Some back injuries can be cured or treated. Others are permanent and require constant maintenance. As discussed in the next section, there are various treatment options available to people whose backs were injured in an accident.
Southern Nevada has several medical providers specializing in treating back injuries and pain. Depending on the nature of the injury, accident victims may be able to benefit from the following 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 patients and doctors need to closely monitor opioid use to help ensure that the patient does not succumb to dependency and drug abuse.
Below a spinal cord injury lawyer discusses many of the expenses accident victims can be compensated for. Note that even if you were partially to blame for injuring your spine, you may still be entitled to damages under Nevada’s comparative negligence laws.2
If you are an employee who was injured on the job, refer to our articles on filing workers’ compensation claims in Nevada.3
3.1. Medical bills
Medical bills for spinal cord injury victims can be massive. Just some of the expenses victims may incur 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 for spine injury victims can reach into the millions of dollars. Many victims require multiple surgeries and expensive prescription medications that lead to mounting costs. A lawsuit can help victims recover funds to maintain excellent care for a lifetime.
Note that people’s fertility can be affected even if their back injury did not cause paralysis of their limbs. But new technologies allow many people with spinal cord injuries to successfully conceive children. This is expensive however, and a good settlement should include funds for these treatments.
3.2. Lost wages
Many spinal cord injuries require months or years of rehabilitation. Others create permanent disabilities. When this happens, loss of income is likely. If your spinal injury was caused by someone else’s negligence, Nevada law may entitle you to compensation for your lost income.
When victims miss work for their injuries while they are recuperating, the settlement may include money to compensate the victim for the following:
- lost wages or salary
- lost tips
- lost bonuses
- lost opportunities for promotions and advancement
The purpose of lawsuits is to make the victim whole. Receiving compensation for lost work helps put the victim closer to their pre-accident situation.
3.3. Loss of future earnings
Permanent back injuries prevent the victim from ever working again or from doing the type of work they did prior to the accident. So when permanently disabled accident victims sue, they 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 victims receive compensation for their loss of future earnings for the rest of their lives, they can concentrate on adapting to their “new normal” without having to worry about where the next paycheck is coming from.
3.4. Pain and suffering
No dollar value is sufficient to make up for being disabled, but a healthy settlement can aid victims in having a better quality of life. Any settlement should include payment for pain and suffering.
There is no definitive way to try to calculate the extent of someone’s 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 the pain and suffering, such as $100; then that sum would be multiplied by the number of days the victim is suffering.
Either way, a Las Vegas spinal cord injury attorney would fight for the highest financial settlement possible.
3.5. Punitive damages
If a case goes to trial and the victim (plaintiff) wins, the court may also award the victim punitive damages in Nevada. The purpose of punitive damages is not to compensate the victim but rather to punish the defendant for the reckless or malicious behavior that caused the injury.
Most cases settle without heavy litigation. But when a case does proceed to trial, the victim’s attorney would try very hard to persuade the judge to grant punitive damages. In many cases, these damages are much bigger than compensatory damages.
Contact our Las Vegas spinal cord injury attorneys to discuss your legal options.
- American Elevator Co. v. Briscoe, 93 Nev. 665, 572 P.2d 534 (1977)(“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 42.005.