Spinal Cord Injuries
We’re trial lawyers. Our core competency – above everything else – is trying cases to juries. And we specialize in beating giants.
We’re trial lawyers. Our core competency – above everything else – is trying cases to juries. And we specialize in beating giants.
Accidents can sometimes cause minor injuries that will recover in time. Unfortunately, sometimes they can cause catastrophic damage to your body and your ability to function for the rest of your life. When you’ve suffered from a spinal cord injury, your entire life could change. You might be partially or permanently disabled and require medical assistance just to complete normal tasks.
If someone else was responsible for the accident that caused your injuries, then you deserve justice for their negligent actions. Our Minneapolis spinal cord injury lawyer from Madia Law LLC can help you recover what you’re owed for the injuries and other damages you’ve suffered as a result of your accident. We’re prepared to fight to defend your rights and hold the negligent party accountable for their actions.
Devastating injuries to the spinal cord can happen in all kinds of ways. Each year, there are almost 18,000 new cases of spinal cord injuries (SCI) in America. There are about 300,000 people in the country living with a spinal cord injury, and the average age of injury is 43. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), 78 percent of new SCI cases are males.
Let’s take a look at the different causes of spinal cord injuries so that you can be more aware of what to avoid or what you might have gone through to get the injury you have. The NSCISC lists these as the most common causes of SCI in America, in order:
On average, the length of stay for a patient with a spinal cord injury in a hospital is 11 days. The amount of time spent in rehabilitation is 31 days. However, that doesn’t mean that the injuries are healed after those stays—many patients still have physical therapy, need more treatment, and require at-home care and devices in order to carry out the rest of their lives.
In fact, less than one percent of patients had complete neurological recovery when they were discharged from the hospital. The most common form of injury right now is incomplete tetraplegia. Let’s take a look at what these terms mean to get a better understanding of injuries to the spinal cord and what they entail.
There are a few different types of spinal cord injuries that you could sustain after an accident. It’s important to understand the terminology so that you can better understand your injuries and what to expect moving forward. The two over-arching categories that a spinal cord injury can fall under are complete and incomplete.
In a complete SCI, the patient has no function below the point of injury. In an incomplete SCI, the patient has some function below the point of injury, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have full function below it. Incomplete injuries have become more common for patients with spinal cord injuries because of medical advancements.
To further understand incomplete tetraplegia and the other forms of spinal cord injuries mentioned above, let’s take a look at the difference between paraplegia and tetraplegia. Paraplegia is when just the lower half of the body is affected by the SCI, whereas tetraplegia affects from the neck down. This means that incomplete tetraplegia is when the injury occurs in the neck, and all of the patient’s limbs are affected, but they haven’t completely lost function in their limbs.
Typically, the loss of function that spinal cord injury patients suffer from depends on the location of the injury. The higher the location of the injury, the more of the body is likely to be affected. The four sections of the spine determine this, which is the way that spinal cord injuries are divided as well:
The cervical section of the spine is in the neck. When these vertebrae are injured, the patient is likely to experience tetraplegia and loss of function below the neck.
When thoracic vertebrae are injured, it’s likely that the patient will completely or incompletely lose function from the chest down. This includes loss of function in the legs.
When the lumbar vertebrae are injured, which are housed in the lower back, or the sacral vertebrae, which are part of the pelvis, you’ll likely lose partial or full control of your hips and legs.
It can be hard to physically and emotionally cope after losing function in any part of your body—whether complete or incomplete. That’s why a Minneapolis spinal cord injury attorney is here for you. We’ll help you recover what you’re owed so that you can focus on healing in all aspects of your life.
Let’s take a look at what Madia Law LLC can help you recover in compensation.
After an injury to your spinal cord, you might be struggling to recover physically, emotionally, and financially while trying to figure out how you’re going to continue to provide for yourself and your family. That’s where a spinal cord injury lawyer can help you. Since you have bills piling up, the inability to work, and might not be able to return to work in the near or distant future, an attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve when the injury wasn’t your fault.
When someone else caused your SCI, you can file a claim to recover the damages you’re owed. Here are some of the different damages that a lawyer will help calculate and win for you:
These are just the basics of what an attorney can help you recover compensation for. You’ll want to have a Minneapolis spinal cord injury lawyer on your side so that you know you’re getting damages for everything you went through and that you’re not settling for less than you deserve in your claim.
At Madia Law, we understand that this is a vulnerable time for you and your family. That’s why we’re here to support you. We know that you have other things to worry about right now other than your legal claim—we’ll handle the legal side of things so that you can focus on your family and your physical and emotional recovery.
We have a process that works in getting exceptional results for our clients.
We are trial lawyers who prepare every case for trial from Day 1. Investigation and legal research are the first things we do, and we spend a lot of time on them. Because we haven’t filed the case yet, we have complete control – the defendant has no say and we want to use this time wisely. We interview witnesses that can help us prove the case. We’ll ask you for all relevant documents in your possession and review those carefully as well. We also will spend some time conducting legal research about unique issues in the case. We pull the jury instructions that the judge will ultimately charge the jury with after closing arguments at trial.
Our next step is typically to send a demand letter to the defendant. In the letter, we thoroughly lay out: the facts surrounding the defendant’s misconduct; the applicable law (including statutory and case citations) that make clear that the defendant broke the law; an analysis of your damages and the defendant’s monetary exposure; a demand for a monetary amount to settle the claim; and an instruction to preserve all relevant evidence, including electronic evidence. The point of this letter is to give the defendant a chance to do the right thing and pay a fair amount before litigation, and to give the defendant an opportunity to present any defenses or evidence it wants us to consider before moving forward. Sometimes we skip the demand letter if there are strategic reasons to move straight to filing, but we typically give defendants a chance to do the right thing.
If early negotiations fail, great – we file a Complaint and serve the defendant with it. A Complaint is a legal document that states the facts of what happened and alleges how the defendant broke the law. It formally starts the lawsuit. Many lawyers draft complaints in a general and relatively vague way, just to get it done and filed – because that’s all that’s really required. We take a different view. We view the Complaint as our first chance to tell your story to the judge, and we take it seriously. So we draft detailed complaints and include legal citations to statutory and judicial authority on unique points. Sometimes we’ll include a number of exhibits, diagrams, or other demonstrative aids to help the Court understand our claims. A secondary benefit of this approach is that defense lawyers reading the Complaint can become educated on the problems of their case and the state of the law – sometimes this leads them to reach out to us shortly after service of the Complaint to re-initiate settlement negotiations. Of course, by that time, the price for settlement has gone up.
Some lawyers view written discovery as a necessary evil – something to get done and out of the way before depositions. Not us. Written discovery is a gift and an opportunity. We spend a great deal of time crafting requests for documents and interrogatories (questions for the defendant to answer in writing) that are specific, detailed, and tailored to get what we need to prove our case. Many lawyers – even great ones – think written discovery is a waste of time because defense lawyers typically answer them on behalf of their clients and can try to stonewall with legalese and objections. We view this as a wonderful opportunity. In our experience, most defense lawyers can’t help themselves when answering discovery: they over-state their defenses and make assertions that their clients will not be able to support in testimony. So we get to commit the defendant to defenses that they can’t back up, leading to contradictions, confusion, and chaos in their depositions later on. We also use Requests for Admission – which many lawyers don’t. The Federal Rules and Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure allow us to ask defendants to “admit” certain facts. We send them RFAs that are very difficult for them to deny. Of course, they do it anyway, but that sets them up later for cost and fee-shifting, which the Rules mandate for defendants that deny RFAs that are later proven true. And usually, we can get the defendants’ own witnesses to admit facts that their defense lawyers denied in RFA. That’s a great situation that leads to more chaos and confusion on the defense side.
One last point on written discovery – we send multiple waves of it throughout discovery. We typically send 3 or 4 sets of written discovery requests to defendants throughout discovery. This compounds the problems for them, because the defense lawyers continue to overstate their defenses, but now run into contradictions from not just the defendant witnesses’ deposition testimony, but also their own previous discovery responses. This makes for a great record that we can present to the judge at dispositive motions, and use for impeachment at trial.
This is our chance to question relevant witnesses, on the record with a court reporter (we typically videotape important depositions as well). We get to confront the defense witnesses with all of the evidence we’ve developed through written discovery and document production. By this time, the defendant put its witnesses in an impossible position through its written defenses, which are often untrue and indefensible. So the witness has to either lie to support the defense, or admit it’s not true. That’s a dilemma that works for our clients either way, no matter which option the witness takes. We use depositions to expose contradictions, create a record for dispositive motions, lock witnesses into their stories so that we can impeach them later at trial, and sometimes, to show defense lawyers how hopeless their case is. We often calls from defense counsel shortly after depositions of their clients, seeking to re-start settlement negotiations.
The defendant will usually make a motion for summary judgment after discovery, asking the Court to throw out the case without having a jury trial. Because we’ve hit discovery so hard – both through written discovery and depositions – this is a tough motion for defense counsel to write in our cases. We draft our response for the Court and now get to bring everything together: the admissions, contradictions, nonsense, and obvious fact disputes that we’ve uncovered through discovery. We tell a compelling story that wraps everything together for the Court and makes clear that the defense motion has to be denied, and the defendant needs to face a jury for its conduct.
Sometimes, we’ll even make an affirmative motion for summary judgment, asking the Court to grant judgment in favor of our client without a trial. These motions are generally rare for plaintiffs to make, because the defendant can usually point to some fact dispute on its intent or some other factor that necessitates a trial. But we make affirmative summary judgment motions significantly more than is typical for plaintiffs, and that’s because the work we put in during discovery helps build a fantastic record to do so.
After the Court denies the defense motion for summary judgment, the defendant has only 2 options: 1) do the right thing and pay you a fair amount to our client to settle your claim (usually much, much more at this point than the defendant could have paid at the beginning of the case to settle); or 2) face a jury for its conduct and risk an enormous verdict. This is the dilemma that we have been creating and forcing the defendant into for the entire case. We’ll engage in settlement negotiations at this point from a position of extreme strength, mainly because most defendants are (rightly) terrified of facing a jury to defend their conduct.
This is, candidly, our favorite part of the case – why we went to law school: to hold the powerful accountable before juries. We prepare heavily for trial, including: detailed witness preparation, focus groups, and mock trials. At this point, the potential outcomes and consequences for the defendant are much more severe than if it simply did the right thing at the beginning of the case and paid a fair amount to compensate our client for its misconduct. As we advocate to the jury for our client, we’re also mindful of protecting the record so that defendants will be unsuccessful in attacking the verdict in post-trial motions or appeal.