Albuquerque Spinal Cord Injury Attorney
When the sensitive nerves in the spine sustain damage or something severs them completely, the victim could lose all sensation and functionality below the point of injury. Many spinal cord injuries qualify as catastrophic. They are often irreversible, life-changing injuries that permanently affect the victim.
If you sustained a severe spinal cord injury in an accident in Albuquerque, contact the Albuquerque injury lawyers at the Fine Law Firm. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling serious and complex injury claims in New Mexico. We can answer your legal questions, determine if you have grounds for a personal injury claim, and walk you through the legal process.
Why Choose Us?
The Fine Law Firm has practiced personal injury law in New Mexico since 1975. In that time, we’ve obtained billions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for our clients. We’ve also built a reputation for excellence among the legal community.
Why Do Clients Choose Us?
- We have a 99% injury claim success rate.
- We have the highest possible Martindale-Hubbell rating (AV).
- We always put clients’ interests above our own.
- We have over 100 years of combined legal experience.
Our lawyers operate on a contingency-fee basis. That means you will pay nothing for our legal services unless we win. If we do win, we charge a maximum of 33% of the final settlement value. We’ll lower our fees if necessary to make sure we make less than our clients.
Why Do You Need a Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer?
Insurance companies often try to take advantage of personal injury claimants – especially for cases involving injuries as serious as those to the spinal cord. Insurance companies may try to offer extremely low settlements for these lifelong injuries, or even deny legitimate claims, in an effort to save money. Hiring a spinal injury lawyer sends the insurance company the message that it can’t take advantage of you. It shows the company you’re serious about your financial recovery, and that you can take the case to court if necessary, for fair compensation.
While no dollar amount can make up for a spinal cord injury, obtaining fair compensation with assistance from an attorney can allow your family to afford all of the medical costs that you will need in the future. This can lend you greater peace of mind during an extremely difficult time in your life. An attorney can also add to your mental peace by taking over the legal legwork of your spinal cord injury claim for you. This can include investigating the accident, determining the defendant, collecting evidence, interviewing eyewitnesses, hiring qualified experts and aggressively negotiating for maximum compensation – all while you focus on your future.
What Is a Spinal Cord Injury?
A spinal cord injury describes any harm or damage done to the spinal cord or any of its components, including the vertebrae, disks and surrounding nerves. When the spinal cord sustains an injury, the damage can be permanent. It is not always possible to recover from an injury to the spine. A minor amount of damage could still have devastating consequences, such as lifelong paralysis below the point of injury. Even if a spine injury is not permanent, it can still be painful and temporarily debilitating for a victim.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
The type of spine injury depends upon which section of the spinal cord sustains damage. Generally, the higher up on the spine the injury, the more devastating its effects, as most spinal cord injuries impact the body from the point of injury down. Each patient is unique in his/her diagnosis and prognosis for recovery. The main types of spine injuries are:
- Cervical spine injuries. The most severe spine injury type, affecting the uppermost portion of the spinal cord. Patients may lose all or partial feeling/mobility from the neck down.
- Thoracic spine injuries. The middle section of the spinal cord, often resulting in paralysis from the trunk down.
- Lumbar or sacral spine injuries. The two portions of the spine close to the bottom. Damage here often results in paralysis of the lower limbs only.
- Complete spinal cord injury. A complete spinal cord injury severs the spine or completely cuts off the connection between the brain and the body, resulting in permanent paralysis.
- Incomplete spinal cord injury. An incomplete spinal cord injury means the spine is not entirely or permanently injured. Victims can often recover from these injuries.
- Quadriplegia and paraplegia. Quadriplegia refers to paralysis in all four limbs and the trunk of the body. Paraplegia is paralysis of the lower body only.
Spinal cord injury victims may suffer partial or complete paralysis in the affected limbs depending on the severity of the injury. Regardless of your spine injury type, talk to our Albuquerque spinal injury attorney about your case.
Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury
A spinal cord injury can affect every part of the body, from breathing and heart rate to muscle movement and metabolism. The symptoms associated with a back injury can be temporary or permanent, depending on the case. There may also be emotional and psychological symptoms, including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Common symptoms include:
- Back pain
- Stiffness or pain when moving
- Tingling or numbness anywhere in the body
- Weakness in the limbs
- Loss of feeling or function
- Loss of balance or coordination
- Breathing or respiratory problems
- Digestive issues
- Sexual dysfunction
After any type of accident that may have injured your back, go to a hospital in Albuquerque for a checkup immediately. It is critical to take back injuries seriously – big or small. Prompt treatment is vital for protecting the spine from further injury, such as preventing a minor back injury from becoming a severe one. Keep in mind that an accident can lead to adrenaline in your body that masks the pain of a spinal cord injury. Seeing a doctor without delay can result in a fast diagnosis even with a hidden back injury.
How Are Spinal Cord Injuries Diagnosed?
Sometimes, spinal cord injuries are immediately recognizable. If you notice shooting pains in your back or tingling or numbness anywhere in your body after an accident, this could be a sign of a spinal cord injury. Tell your doctor all of your symptoms, as he or she will take them into account when diagnosing your injury. In other cases, however, back and spine injuries have hidden or delayed symptoms that make them more difficult to diagnose. A physician will generally take the following steps to diagnose a spinal cord injury:
- Review the symptoms
- Conduct a physical examination
- Ask the patient questions about the accident
- Review the patient’s medical history
- Use x-rays, CT scans and/or MRIs to get a better look at the damage
- Use neurological examinations to classify the injury
Once a doctor has ascertained that there is a spinal cord injury, he or she can use various methods to determine the nature and severity of the injury. Physicians currently use the American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale for this purpose. This scale classifies spinal cord injuries into five levels – A to E – ranging from completely normal neural function (E) to complete loss of neural function (A). This scale can lead to a more accurate patient prognosis.
Are There Treatments for a Spinal Cord Injury?
Yes, treatments are available for spinal cord injuries, although there is currently no known cure. If an accident victim suffers a complete spinal cord injury that causes paralysis, there are no treatments available to reverse this condition and restore function. However, patients with less severe spinal cord injuries may be able to improve their mobility and independence, and even repair the damage done, with treatments such as:
- Physical therapy
- Experimental treatments
- Clinical trials
There is hope for the future of medical care for spinal cord injury survivors. Researchers are constantly working on developing new spinal cord injury treatments that promote nerve cell regeneration and repair. In the meantime, there are many treatments, medications and prostheses currently available to help patients improve their quality of life and extend their lifespans.
Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Many different circumstances can lead to devastating spinal cord injuries in Albuquerque. Any situation that results in trauma or damage to the spine can inflict a life-changing injury on the victim. These injuries may arise due to someone’s negligence, or unintentional carelessness, or they may happen because of a wanton disregard for the safety of others, wrongful acts, recklessness or malicious intent to harm. Some of the most common causes of spinal cord injuries in New Mexico are:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Sports impacts or injuries
- Diving accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Industrial accidents
- Construction accidents
- Defective products
- Medical or surgical errors (malpractice)
- Birth injuries
- Dangerous crimes, such as gunshot wounds
Many spinal cord injuries are preventable. They arise when one or more parties make a mistake or do something wrong and put the victim in harm’s way. If you or a loved one was diagnosed with a spinal cord injury in any of these circumstances, you may be entitled to financial compensation from the at-fault party. Identifying who or what caused your injury is one of the first steps toward achieving a monetary recovery.
Lifetime Costs Associated With a Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injuries are some of the most expensive injuries possible. Due to their often long-lasting or permanent nature, these injuries can result in years of related medical costs, including medications, medical devices, physical therapy and rehabilitation. The price of lifetime medical care alone can easily exceed $1 million. In addition to medical expenses, a spinal cord injury survivor will most likely also face lost wages, lost capacity to earn a living, property damage and many other expenses.
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, the average lifetime cost of a spine injury – the health care costs and living expenses alone – is almost $5.2 million for a survivor diagnosed with high tetraplegia at the age of 25. The lowest lifetime cost estimation still comes to over $1.2 million (a victim over the age of 50 who is diagnosed with a spinal cord injury that impacts motor function at any level). It is critical not to underestimate how much your spinal cord injury case is worth.
Who Is Liable For My Spinal Cord Injury?
Holding someone liable, or financially responsible, for your spinal cord injury can allow you and your family to move on with greater financial peace of mind by recovering a monetary award. The party liable for the injury and related damages will be the one responsible for the proximate cause of injury. In many cases, the person who is liable for a spinal cord injury is the one that broke a law or failed to act with due care. This may be a:
- Sports coach
- Property owner
- Product manufacturer
- The government
- A mixture of multiple parties
A lawyer can help you determine the liable party in your case. Having an attorney search for all of the outlets for financial recovery and insurance policies available is important for an injury as expensive as one to the spine. A lawyer can research your recovery options thoroughly to improve your chances of obtaining the compensation that you need.
What Is Comparative Negligence in a Personal Injury Case?
Comparative negligence is a law in New Mexico that allows an injured accident victim to still recover financial compensation even if he or she is found to be partially responsible for the accident or injury in question. New Mexico is a pure comparative negligence state, meaning that no amount of fault – short of 100 percent – will bar a plaintiff from making a financial recovery. This law is important if you believe you contributed to your spinal cord injury in any way.
If the courts allocate a percentage of fault to you during a spinal cord injury claim, this will reduce your compensatory award by an equivalent amount. If you are found to be 10 percent responsible for the accident, for example, and your case was worth $500,000, your financial recovery would be reduced by your 10 percent of fault to $450,000.
Unlike many other states, New Mexico does not cap a victim’s ability to recover at a certain percentage of fault, such as 50 percent. You can be 99 percent at fault for your spine injury and still recover 1 percent compensation from the defendant. It is still important, however, to have a lawyer help you minimize your fault to maximize your monetary recovery.
What Are the Elements of a Spinal Cord Injury Claim?
Not every spinal cord injury in Albuquerque gives the survivor the right to file a personal injury claim. There must be evidence that one or more parties are at fault for causing the injury. Most spinal cord injury cases are based on the argument of negligence. This legal theory asserts that the defendant did not use the amount of care that a reasonable and prudent party would have in the same or similar circumstances and that this is why the victim’s injury exists. Proving negligence requires four key elements:
- Duty of care. A duty of care must have existed between the plaintiff and the defendant. This is a legal or ethical responsibility to act with reasonable care.
- A breach of duty. The defendant must have breached, or violated, the duty of care by acting or failing to act in a way that a prudent person would have.
- Damages. The filing party must have suffered compensable losses, also known as damages, for which he or she is demanding financial compensation.
- Causation. There must be a causal connection between the defendant’s breach of duty and the damages being claimed. In other words, the damages would not exist but for the defendant’s negligence.
Negligence is the most common doctrine used when filing a spinal cord injury claim. If you have grounds for a strict liability claim, however, or a breach of warranty lawsuit, you may not need to prove negligence. Discuss your case in detail with an attorney to find out if it has merit. If so, your attorney can help you create a legal strategy based on the foundation of your lawsuit. Then, your lawyer can help you prove your case by gathering and presenting the required evidence.
How to Prove a Spinal Cord Injury Claim
As the filing party in a spinal cord injury lawsuit, it is your responsibility to meet the burden of proof. This means that you or your spinal cord injury lawyer must show that what you are claiming is more likely to be true than not true. This is known as a preponderance of the evidence, or clear and convincing evidence. Evidence is a key part of any personal injury lawsuit in New Mexico. An attorney can help you gather evidence to support your spinal cord injury case, such as:
- A copy of a police or accident report
- Accident reconstruction
- Surveillance camera footage
- Company or employer records
- Cell phone records
- Eyewitness statements
- Testimony from qualified experts
- Medical records
Many different types of evidence may be available to prove a defendant’s negligence or fault in a spinal cord injury claim. Your lawyer will build a compelling case against one or more defendants using all of the evidence available. Then, your lawyer will fight for maximum financial compensation from the defendant’s insurance company using proven legal strategies. Hiring an attorney can make the legal process – including proving your case – easier for you and your family.
How to Choose Your Spinal Cord Injury Attorney
Your choice of spinal cord injury attorney can make a major difference to the outcome of your case. It is critical to find an attorney with the right experience, resources and capabilities to handle a case as serious as a spinal cord injury lawsuit. You need to find a lawyer who is confident that he or she can take your case, as well as one that will make an insurance company treat you with the respect that you deserve.
When hiring a spinal cord injury lawyer in Albuquerque, look for the following signs of a strong legal advocate:
- Experience handling spinal cord injury claims. The right lawyer will have a history of successfully handling other spinal cord injury cases. Although every case is unique, hands-on experience gives a lawyer what it takes to handle unique challenges.
- Case results. It can help to know that your attorney has the ability to acquire positive case results, although this is not a guarantee that the same will happen in your case. Look for a lawyer who can go to trial for maximum results, if necessary.
- Positive reviews. Favorable testimonials and reviews, from past clients as well as referrals from family or friends, can show you that the lawyer does what is best for his or her clients. Reading reviews can give you an idea of what to expect from the lawyer’s services.
- A personal touch. You should get the feeling that your spinal cord injury lawyer has the time to dedicate to your case. You should be treated with care and personal attention from the very beginning of your relationship with the attorney.
- Affordable rates. Ask about the attorney’s fees upfront. Find a lawyer that operates on a contingency fee basis, where you won’t pay anything out of your own pocket, for optimal financial peace of mind.
The Fine Law Firm has been a trusted personal injury law firm in New Mexico for many years. We are nationally recognized as an elite law firm that has achieved the highest possible ratings on both Martindale-Hubbell and Avvo. We also have a positive reputation in our local community, with accolades from local magazines and readers’ choice awards. We offer free consultations so you can speak to one of our lawyers in person at no financial risk to learn why we’re the right fit for you.
Damages Available During a Spinal Cord Injury Claim in New Mexico
No amount of money can make up for a spinal cord injury that changes your life or the life of someone that you love. Obtaining fair and full financial compensation (also known as damages) from the at-fault party, however, can go a long way toward paying for required medical care and other costs. This can lead to less financial stress as you focus on your future. Our attorneys at The Fine Law Firm will do our best to fight for the recovery that you deserve. This may include damages for:
- Present and future medical costs
- Losses of income
- Lost future capacity to earn
- Disability accommodations
- Property damage repairs
- Out-of-pocket costs
- Legal fees
- Lost quality or enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional injuries
- Punitive damages
In New Mexico, the law permits you to seek financial compensation for both economic and noneconomic damages. You will need to provide proof of your losses, however, before an insurance company or the courts will award you compensation. Our lawyers can help you prove how a spinal cord injury has impacted your life and will continue to do so in the future. We know how to fight for maximum compensation when going up against any defendant, including a powerful insurance corporation or its claims adjuster.
How Much Is Your Case Worth?
The value of your case is associated directly with the severity of your spinal cord injury, how much it has affected your life and how much it will foreseeably continue to do so. In general, the more severe the injury, the higher the value of a personal injury claim. Since spinal cord injuries often inflict immense mental anguish and emotional suffering, the pain and suffering damages awarded may be substantial. Case values also vary based on factors such as the amount of insurance coverage available, your degree of fault for the injury (if any), your age at the time of injury, your income before the accident, and more.
Just as no two spinal cord injuries are the same, no two spinal cord injury cases are exactly alike. There is no such thing as an average settlement value or judgment award. Determining the value of your case may require assistance from an experienced personal injury lawyer in New Mexico. A lawyer will have the knowledge and case experience to accurately evaluate your case. Note that it is important to get an evaluation from an attorney that you can trust before accepting an insurance settlement, as insurance companies are notorious for undervaluing claims.
Act Now – The Clock Is Ticking
In New Mexico, a law called the statute of limitations gives you no more than three years from the date of your accident or discovery of injury to file a personal injury claim. You may have more or less time than this, however, depending on the circumstances. If you wish to hold a government agency accountable for your spinal cord injury, for example, you will only have two years to file your claim. The courts do not give many exceptions to this rule. If you miss your deadline, you will most likely be barred from financial compensation. This is why it is important to contact a spinal cord injury lawyer in Albuquerque as soon as possible – before it’s too late.
Contact Us Today
Contact the Fine Law Firm for a free case consultation regarding your recent accident and spinal cord injury. Our attorneys believe in honest and open communication and can answer your questions in detail based on the facts of your case. You may be eligible for financial compensation from the at-fault party. Call (505) 889-FINE today to schedule your case review in Albuquerque.