Motor-vehicle collisions, including car accidents and motorcycle wrecks, are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries (SCIs) in this country. Accounting for nearly half of all new SCIs every year, crashes also contribute to debilitating back injuries. While not paralyzing, such injuries can still hinder quality of life in a major way.
If you were struck by a drunk, distracted, or otherwise reckless driver and ended up with spinal cord damage or a serious back injury, you may be entitled to compensation for all associated damages. To prevail in your case, you will need strong evidence of liability, causation, and damages.
Let’s take a look at the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about car accident back injury claims:
1. What Kinds of Damages Should I Be Tracking?
California allows for the recovery of both economic and non-economic damages. Car accident victims may seek compensation for their:
- Ambulance fees;
- Emergency medical care;
- Anticipated procedures and treatments;
- Home care;
- Ongoing rehabilitation;
- Domestic help;
- Child care;
- Alternative transportation;
- Lost wages;
- Loss of earning capacity;
- Property damage;
- Home and vehicle modifications;
- Emotional distress;
- Loss of enjoyment in life; and
- Pain and suffering.
Tracking your monetary losses will be fairly straightforward. Simply save all relevant bills, records, receipts, and invoices.
Your legal team will also want to review your paystubs and prior tax returns to estimate a reasonable figure for your total lost wages. And if you’re unable to return to the workforce at all, they may consult economists and industry experts who can provide deposition regarding your career trajectory and lifetime earning capacity.
As for tracking your non-economic damages, start a personal injury journal right away, and use it to record the ways in which the back injury is affecting your everyday life. Detailed entries will help prove the extent of damages like pain and suffering.
2. How Can I Prove the Severity of My Back Injury?
A resourceful legal team will know how to gather all kinds of evidence to prove the severity of your condition. Some of the most valuable pieces of evidence might include:
- Deposition from your physician;
- Deposition from relevant specialists like neurologists and neurosurgeons;
- Medical records;
- Diagnostic images;
- Photographs of any visible wounds;
- Case studies involving patients with injuries similar to your own; and
- Deposition from friends, loved ones, and colleagues about how your mood, behavior, and demeanor have changed since the accident.
3. How Can I Prove Liability for the Car Accident in Which I Was Hurt?
When building your car accident claim, the strongest evidence of fault will ultimately depend on the circumstances. Generally speaking, though, it will probably include some combination of the following:
- Photographs of the wreckage;
- Dash cam footage from vehicles that were in the vicinity;
- Surveillance recordings from premises near the scene;
- Eyewitness deposition;
- The official police report;
- Deposition from accident reconstruction experts;
- Toxicology reports; and
- Cell phone records.
4. Will I Have to Go to Trial?
Whether you’re living with chronic back pain or learning to cope with permanent paralysis, navigating complicated legal proceedings is probably the last thing you want to do. Thankfully, most personal injury claims are resolved without even proceeding to litigation.
As long as you have strong evidence of liability, causation, and damages, the opposing party should be willing to negotiate. If for some reason they’re uncooperative, though, or a dispute arises, filing a lawsuit and possibly going all the way to trial may be the only way to pursue the compensation you deserve.
5. How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit If the Liable Party Refuses to Settle?
In California, the standard statute of limitations for personal injury suits is two years. Because there are a number of exceptions to this filing deadline, though, it’s wise to consult an attorney as soon as possible.
For example, if it turns out that a government entity is to blame for the accident in which you were hurt, you may have to file an administrative claim in as little as six months. The agency in question then has 45 days to respond. If they deny your request, you will have six months from when the rejection letter was mailed to file suit. If you don’t receive such a letter, you will have two years from when the cause of action occurred to file suit.
6. Should I Hire a Personal Injury Attorney Before Proceeding with My Case?
While it’s possible to put together a strong car accident claim without legal help, it’s wise to seek counsel. Both back injuries and SCIs are inherently complicated, and it’s not uncommon for insurers to challenge claims involving such conditions. A seasoned lawyer won’t let the opposing party manipulate you into accepting an unfair payout. Your attorney can take over all correspondence with the insurance company, handle the settlement negotiations, and help you navigate every stage of the proceedings.
Call (562) 206-1939 to Discuss Your Case with a Long Beach Car Accident Lawyer
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
If you sustained a catastrophic injury in a motor-vehicle collision through no fault of your own, contact the Law Office of Michael D. Waks. We will answer your questions, conduct a thorough investigation into the wreck, and help you determine the most strategic way to proceed with your claim.
Our resourceful team is committed to seeing every case through to the end, which is how we’ve recovered numerous six- and seven-figure settlements and verdicts. Call (562) 206-1939 or use our Online Contact Form to set up a free consultation with a car accident attorney in Long Beach.
Download Our Car Accident Emergency Response. PDF
If you drive regularly, there’s a good chance you’ll end up in a wreck at some point. Since it never hurts to be prepared for all eventualities, print our Car Accident Emergency Response .pdf and store it in your glovebox. Should you get in a crash, refer to this handy guide when documenting the scene to give your subsequent personal injury claim the best chance of success. Download it HERE for free.
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