What Types of Compensation can I Recover for Spinal Cord Injuries?
If you have suffered a serious spinal cord injury, you might be wondering how much compensation you can recover. Spinal cord injuries happen every day in the United States. Unfortunately, most Americans do not have the resources to pay for the medical care and lifetime assistance they will need to live with their spinal cord injury.
Accurately calculating the amount of compensation to which you could be entitled depends on several factors. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you determine how much compensation you could recover. Contact the experienced Charlotte personal injury lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC today to schedule your case evaluation.You can Recover Three Types of Damages for Your Spinal Cord Injury
There are three types of damages or compensation available from personal injury lawsuits in North Carolina. These three types of damages are economic, non-economic and punitive damages. Damage awards are intended to put the plaintiff in a position he or she was before the spinal cord injury. Courts seek to help injured parties recover financially for their losses and pain through compensatory damages, which can be economic or non-economic. When a defendant acted particularly egregiously, the court might impose punitive damages as a punishment.Economic Damages for Spinal Cord Injuries
Economic damages are considered compensatory damages. They provide the victim with compensation for any financial losses he or she has suffered because of the spinal cord injury. Compensatory damages include all of the following types of expenses:
- Medical bills
- Expenses related to property repair
- Loss of income
- Physical therapy expenses
- Household expenses
Non-economic damages are another type of compensatory damages. In North Carolina, non-economic damages compensate the injured party for the general mental and emotional harm they have suffered as a result of their spinal cord injury. Many victims of spinal cord injuries become bedridden and unable to engage in their usual activities. Non-economic damages are damages that cannot be easily calculated by adding up medical bills and receipts.
At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, our legal team can work closely with you to thoroughly consider and determine all of your non-economic damages. We fight hard to make sure our clients receive the full amount of damages to which they are entitled. Non-economic damages include the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Physical impairments
- Decrease in quality of life
- Decrease in enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium (harm to the relationship with the injured party's spouse and other family relationships).
Punitive damages are a separate category of damages. Punitive damages are not intended to compensate the injured party for his or her injuries. Instead, punitive damages are focused on the behavior of the defendant. North Carolina courts impose punitive damages to punish the defendant for particularly egregious behavior.
Courts only award punitive damages when the negligent party willfully or knowingly performed an egregious and reprehensible act. Punitive damages punish the negligent party and warn other people from engaging in similar egregious behavior. The purpose of punitive damages is to act as a deterrent for future persons considering similar actions as the defendant. One of the more common examples of an act necessitating punitive damages would be a person purposely driving while drunk and causing a serious spinal cord injury.North Carolina's Contributory Negligence Law
North Carolina is one of only a few states that still applies the strict legal principle of contributory negligence. Under North Carolina's contributory negligence law, when a plaintiff is at fault, he or she cannot recover damages. This means that even if a court finds the plaintiff to be 1% at fault for the accident that resulted in his or her injuries, the plaintiff cannot recover damages.
If you have concerns that there is a chance that the party at fault for your spinal cord injury might claim that you were also at fault, you need a skilled lawyer. Consulting with an experienced lawyer right away will help you ensure that your legal strategy is as solid and persuasive as possible.North Carolina's Cap on Damages
North Carolina also applies limits to some types of damages amounts. Many states, including North Carolina, put limits on the maximum amount of compensation a victim of a personal injury can receive. North Carolina does not place a limit on non-economic and economic damages. However, North Carolina does place a cap on punitive damages. Plaintiffs can only recover a maximum of $250,000 in punitive damages or three times the total compensatory damages that the court awarded, whichever is the greater amount.