Boston Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer
Finkelstein & Partners LLP – Boston Office
15 Court Square #800a,
Boston, MA 02108
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Finkelstein & Partners, LLP – Winning Serious Injury Lawsuits Since 1959
A spinal cord injury can happen anywhere in Boston, at any time. It can happen in a collision against the boards at an ice hockey rink in the Fens or the Seaport. It can happen in an early-morning motor vehicle crash on the Mass Pike. It can happen in a fall on an icy Beacon Hill sidewalk.
No matter where in Boston a spinal cord injury occurs, however, it holds the potential to take a devastating toll on the victim’s life. Injuries to the spinal cord frequently result in permanent paralysis, loss of bodily functions, and mountains of unexpected, un-planned-for expenses.
Some spinal cord injuries happen by chance, but many don’t. Instead, Bostonians frequently suffer damage to their spinal cords because of someone else’s careless, irresponsible decisions and actions.
Finkelstein & Partners represents Boston spinal cord injury victims in legal actions against those at-fault parties. Contact us today to learn how we can help you or your loved one after a spinal cord injury interrupts your life.
About Finkelstein & Partners in Boston
For more than 60 years, Finkelstein & Partners has set the standard for successful, client-driven personal injury law firms. Founded in a single office in Upstate New York, the firm now represents clients nationwide, including in Boston and throughout New England. Over our long history, we have earned a reputation as a team of tough, smart, unflappable trial lawyers, capable of handling the most complex cases against the most powerful and well-funded opponents.
Our recent results speak for themselves: multiple seven and eight-figure settlements and jury verdicts against major corporations, large insurance companies, and other parties whose wrongful conduct did our clients harm. We have years of experience fighting on behalf of victims of spinal cord injuries in particular. Though our past successes do not guarantee results in future cases, they do reflect that clients of Finkelstein & Partners get a team of talented attorneys who know how to win even the toughest cases.
Spinal Cord Injury Overview
The spinal cord carries messages between the brain and the body, making movement, sensation, reflexes, and bodily functions possible. This communication gets disrupted when the cord sustains an injury.
Doctors classify two main types of spinal cord injuries: complete and incomplete. A complete spinal cord injury completely disrupts signals along the cord, and generally means there is no movement or sensation in any part of the body connected to the spinal cord below the site of injury. An incomplete injury involves a partial disruption of signals along the cord and may leave the injured individuals with some sensation or function in the affected parts of the body.
Additionally, doctors classify the paralysis, or inability to move parts of the body, that can result from a spinal cord injury according to the parts of the body it affects.
The two general categories of paralysis are:
- Tetraplegia, also referred to as quadriplegia, is an injury occurring on the upper portion of the spinal cord closer to the neck that affects the body from the neck down, including arms, hands, trunk, legs, and pelvis.
- Paraplegia is an injury occurring on the lower portion of the spinal cord that affects the body from the waist down, including all or part of the trunk, legs, and pelvis.
Partial or total paralysis often leads individuals with spinal cord injuries to rely on wheelchairs and similar mobility devices to get around independently. They may also require modifications to their living spaces and vehicles to accommodate their paralysis.
In addition to paralysis, individuals who suffer spinal cord injuries are likely to experience a loss of sensation, a loss of the ability to control bodily functions, and a disruption of involuntary bodily functions, in the affected parts of their bodies.
These disruptions can lead to secondary health complications including:
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Difficulty regulating body temperature
- Fluctuations in blood pressure
- Sexual dysfunction
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Respiratory difficulties
- Burns, rashes, and other skin problems
- Mental health struggles, such as depression and substance abuse
The permanency of and challenges imposed by a spinal cord injury almost always take a significant financial toll. Data from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation shows that the lifetime costs related to a spinal cord injury of any type typically run into millions of dollars.
How Spinal Cord Injuries May Occur
A spinal cord injury happens any time something interrupts its ability to function. For example, an injury may consist of damage to the cord itself, pressure on the cord caused by an injury to the spinal column, or an illness that causes swelling around or degradation of the court.
A spinal cord injury can therefore occur in a wide variety of ways.
Here are some of the scenarios that can lead to a spinal cord injury for a client of Finkelstein & Partners in Boston:
- Motor vehicle accidents constitute a leading cause of spinal cord injuries. In a crash, vehicle occupants may sustain a blow or jolt to their spine that damages disks, vertebrae, or the cord itself.
- Falls, especially falls from heights in which the individual lands on the neck or shoulders, can damage the structures of the spine and result in injury.
- Diving into shallow bodies of water, such as swimming pools or rocky shorelines
- Sports-related impacts, such as player-on-player collisions while playing football or ice hockey, falls taken during cheerleading or gymnastics, or wrecks on bicycles or skateboards
- Violent crime, including assaults and gunshot wounds that cause penetrating injuries to the spine
- Infectious diseases that cause swelling around or damage to the spinal cord and disrupt its function
- Medical errors, such as mishaps during back surgeries that damage the spinal cord by cutting or impinging on it.
This is not a complete list, of course. Spinal cord injuries occur in a wide variety of scenarios. The important point to remember is that many of those circumstances involve careless or reckless conduct by someone other than the individual who suffers an injury.
No matter how a spinal cord injury happens in Boston, the Finkelstein & Partners team possesses the knowledge and experience to help individuals seek compensation from the at-fault parties.
How We Help Individuals With Spinal Cord Injuries
As lawyers for individuals who suffer spinal cord injuries in Boston, our job at Finkelstein & Partners is to secure as much compensation as possible to help our clients pay for their care, adapt to their circumstances, and move forward with their lives.
We may accomplish that goal in a variety of ways. Fundamentally, however, the actions we take on behalf of our clients and their families often focus on two core objectives: identifying who owes compensation to our client and pursuing legal strategies designed to obtain as much money as possible from those parties.
Targeting Parties Liable for Causing a Spinal Cord Injury
Generally speaking, under Massachusetts law, anyone whose unreasonably dangerous decisions or actions cause a spinal cord injury in someone else will owe that injured individual damages. The skilled spinal cord injury lawyers at Finkelstein & Partners in Boston dig deep into the evidence of every case they take to identify all parties—whether they’re individuals, businesses, or institutions—that may have had a hand in injuring their clients.
Our team understands that the parties liable for a spinal cord injury aren’t always who you’d initially expect. We let our evaluation of liability be guided by the facts, no matter where they point us.
For example, we might conclude that any of the following parties owe our client damages for a spinal cord injury:
- A driver who made a mistake behind the wheel and caused a motor vehicle accident that resulted in our client’s spinal cord injury
- The owner of a building where our client fell and suffered a spinal cord injury because of poor lighting and a loose banister in a stairwell
- The manufacturer of a defective backyard trampoline that lacked safety features that would have prevented our client from falling off of it and suffering a spinal cord injury
- A homeowner who knew children would likely try to sneak into his backyard pool when he was away and failed to secure the pool and prevent them from getting hurt by diving into it.
- A school that failed to train and supervise athletic staff appropriately, resulting in dangerous training drills on a practice field that resulted in an athlete suffering a spinal cord injury
As these examples show, identifying parties with potential liability for a Boston spinal cord injury requires a close examination of the evidence by an experienced attorney. At Finkelstein & Partners, our lawyers have a keen understanding of where to look for that evidence, how to secure it, and how to use it to prove liability to our clients for damages.
Evaluating and Pursuing Maximum Damages
As we mentioned above, spinal cord injuries routinely burden injured individuals and their families with massive, unexpected expenses that may last a lifetime. They don’t deserve to carry that burden on their own, and our job is to make sure they won’t.
Accomplishing that part of our mission typically starts with a careful analysis of the financial and personal impacts of a spinal cord injury on our client. We calculate the immediate cost of the injury—the medical bills, home modification costs, and lost wages, for example—and also the future costs a person with an injury like our client’s can expect to face in the years to come. Drawing on our hard-earned understanding of the medical science and financial toll of spinal cord injuries, we aim to account for every penny of those costs.
And that’s not all. We also take the time to appreciate the disruption and devastation wrought by a spinal cord injury on our client’s life. An SCI can affect an injured individual’s hopes and dreams, relationships, and mental health even more profoundly than its financial impact. That toll deserves compensation, and our team works closely with our clients and their loved ones to understand it and quantify it.
Having developed those two critical pieces of information—liability for our client’s injuries, and the scope of our client’s damages—the team at Finkelstein & Partners then sets to work in pursuing legal actions designed to secure as much money as possible. That often involves filing a lawsuit in Boston courts, and may also include pursuing insurance claims and administrative actions to secure benefits to which our client is entitled.
We leave no stone unturned in our quest to see justice done, and compensation paid, for our clients who must live with a spinal cord injury.
Important Considerations for Boston Spinal Cord Injury Cases
Individuals who seek our help at Finkelstein & Partners for a spinal cord injury commonly want to know what they can do to put themselves in the best possible position to secure compensation.
Of course, every case is different, but our decades of experience have taught us that two steps almost always help.
- First, injured individuals should do everything possible to get the medical care they need, and to follow their treatment plan with as much purpose and determination as they can muster. A spinal cord injury isn’t a death sentence. Our clients can, and with luck will, live happy, productive, meaningful lives while managing an SCI. Our ability to secure maximum damages that will help them in that endeavor, however, can often depend in part on showing that they did everything possible to help themselves.
- Second, we encourage anyone who has suffered a spinal cord injury in Boston to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. In most cases, you have just three years to pursue legal action for damages in Boston, and a skilled lawyer may need every second of that time to build the strongest possible case on your behalf.
Boston Spinal Cord Injury FAQ
Various events can lead to a spinal cord injury (SPI). The National Institutes of Health (NIH) report that traffic accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries for those under 65, and unintentional falls cause the most spinal cord injuries in those over 65. Traffic crashes, falls, violence, and sports account for more than 90 percent of all spinal cord injuries.
With this in mind, your lawyer might advise you to name one or more of the following in a Boston spinal cord injury lawsuit:
- Motor vehicle drivers
- Motorcycle or scooter drivers
- Pedestrians or cyclists
- Property or business owners
- Individuals who abused, assaulted, shot, or stabbed you
- A school district, university, or sports team or league
Victims of negligence who suffer a personal injury have three years to sue under Massachusetts law. This means you must bring a lawsuit within three years from the date you suffered your spinal cord injury.
However, it’s best to consult a lawyer as soon as possible after your injuries. Spinal cord injury claims are complex and require some time for preparation. If you wait too long, you risk missing out on recovering damages for your injury. Your legal team and medical team need time to evaluate your condition and have a realistic view of your long-term prognosis before your lawyer can accurately assess the value of your claim.
Additionally, as time passes, you risk diminished quality or the disappearance of valuable evidence to support your claim. For example, witnesses might forget the details associated with the accident that led to your injury, or they might move away or die. This makes it difficult, sometimes impossible, to get their testimony.
It’s doubtful you can sue your employer for your spinal cord injury. All Massachusetts employers with one or more employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance to protect them from employee lawsuits and ensure injured workers get the care they need.
Spinal cord injuries require hospitalization, so your employer knows about your work injury. They have seven days to report your injury to their insurance carrier after you have missed five days of work. You might have grounds to sue your employer if they failed to report your injury or retaliated against you after you filed a workers’ compensation claim. An experienced attorney can review your case and advise you on the best course of action for your situation.
If you have a catastrophic spinal cord injury that prevents you from returning to your job or seeking future employment, you might qualify for disability benefits. Those with permanent injuries often receive Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI and SSI are monthly benefits payments based on the amount of income you made before your injury.
Disability benefits never wholly cover the entirety of someone’s lost income, but they do help. It’s best to consult with an attorney who can review your case and identify an individual or business that could be financially liable for your injuries. If you bring a lawsuit against the responsible party and win your case, you could receive compensation to make up for the income gap.
You must pay your medical bills for your spinal cord injury. Money from an insurance claim, a settlement, or a jury award, typically reimburses patients for the money they have spent on medical expenses. If you have health insurance, it will cover some initial costs. However, once you exhaust your policy limits, you must pay the rest.
Spinal cord injuries are among the most costly of all personal injuries. If you cannot afford your medical bills, do not ignore them. You risk damaging your credit if they send your account to collections. Instead, speak with your medical provider and let them know your situation. Hospitals and doctors understand insurance claims and lawsuits, so many are open to working something out.
This might mean you have to make small payments to keep your account current, or they might put your account on hold until your claim is resolved. Also, make sure you provide your attorney with copies of all medical bills to ensure they get paid if you receive compensation for your spinal cord injury.
If you bring a lawsuit against another party for your spinal cord injury, you could receive compensation for various damages related to your injury.
Damages that victims of negligence often receive in spinal cord claims include:
- Medical treatment costs, including ambulance service, emergency room treatment, surgery, hospitalization, radiology, lab tests, doctor visits, prescription medication, and transportation to and from the doctor/hospital
- Estimated future medical expenses for ongoing care and treatment, sometimes including the cost of a long-term nursing care facility when someone with a spinal cord injury needs around-the-clock care
- Rehabilitation costs, such as visits with physical therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, and other specialists who help spinal cord injury patients cope with their injury
Costs for assistive devices such as wheelchairs, canes, and special computer software for communication
- Lost wages from missing work due to a spinal cord injury, hospitalization, and treatment
- Estimated lost future wages when a spinal cord injury prevents a patient from returning to their job or working in the future
- Home modification costs to make a house more accessible, such as constructing a wheelchair ramp, installing handrails, and setting up a living space on a ground-level floor
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of consortium with a spouse
- Punitive damages when a spinal cord injury is a result of willful harm or gross negligence
We cannot provide a specific financial outcome for your spinal cord injury case. Each claim has distinctive facts and circumstances that could lead to the recovery of hundreds, thousands, or millions of dollars. Spinal cord injuries are high-value claims, but if you choose to accept a settlement offer, you could receive less than the total value of your claim.
On the other side of the spectrum, you could also receive much more if you are eligible for punitive damages. Ultimately, your attorney will review your case and consult with experts to accurately value your claim and give you a range of the compensation you could expect from a settlement or court-awarded damages.
Factors that heavily influence the amount of money you could receive for your spinal cord injury include:
- The extent to which the other side disputes liability
- Whether your injury occurred because of gross negligence
- Insurance policy limits
- Total economic loss (medical expenses, lost wages, etc.)
- Whether your case goes to trial
- Whether your spinal cord injury occurred because of medical malpractice
You must prove the person, business, or other entity responsible for your injury was negligent. Courts evaluate four main elements of negligence. Here is a description of each element as it relates to a Boston spinal cord injury claim:
Duty of Care
The defendant owed you a duty of care. If you suffered your spinal cord injury in a car accident, the driver had a duty to follow the rules of the road and operate their vehicle safely. Proving a duty of care is often the most straightforward part of proving negligence in a personal injury claim. Sometimes a duty of care is more formal.
This is especially true in medical malpractice cases where a doctor/patient relationship exists. Doctors have a sworn duty to do no harm and provide a standard of care accepted in the medical community.
Breach of Duty
A party is only negligent if they breach their duty of care. A breach refers to actions or inaction that go against the accepted duty of care. For example, if you suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident while driving near Beacon Hill because another motorist ran a stop sign, the motorist breached his duty of care towards you when he violated traffic laws and went through the stop sign.
Proving negligence also means you must have suffered actual harm, referred to as damages. Spinal cord injuries qualify as physical harm. Additionally, the economic loss associated with the injury and the non-economic losses, such as reduced quality of life, also falls under the umbrella of harm.
Causation is often the most challenging component of negligence for victims to prove. It is also the component the defense will contest the most in many cases. Ultimately, you must prove that the breach of duty that occurred led to your spinal cord injury. This can be straightforward in some cases, but other times causation is murky, making legal counsel a necessity.
Never accept a settlement offer without consulting with a lawyer. The majority of personal injury claims get resolved long before going to trial. Settlements are common. However, if you suffered a spinal cord injury, it’s more likely your case will go to trial.
Spinal cord injuries often include permanent damage, which makes them high-value claims. If the insurance provider makes an early settlement offer, they might be trying to avoid a potentially much larger jury award.
The biggest problem with an early settlement offer, especially in a spinal cord injury claim, is that you typically do not know your long-term prognosis when you receive the offer. Once you accept a settlement, you waive your rights to seek further compensation for your injury.
Accepting an offer too soon could leave you without the funds you need to pay for living expenses and ongoing care related to your injury. It’s best to consider an early offer as a starting point for negotiations and let your attorney work on increasing the offer.
You do not have to pay anything upfront to get the legal help you need for your spinal cord injury. Personal injury lawyers who help victims of negligence, including those with spinal cord injuries, accept new clients on contingency. They understand the financial struggles that come with a serious injury.
A contingent fee agreement does not require you to pay a retainer to hire a lawyer. Instead, your attorney deducts fees and other costs of representation from any compensation you receive for your spinal cord injury from a settlement or jury award.
Don’t let financial concerns stop you from getting legal help from an experienced Boston spinal cord injury lawyer, who can investigate your case, file necessary paperwork, negotiate with insurance companies, and advocate for you each step of the way.
Experienced Boston Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers
So, don’t wait. You deserve compensation for your spinal cord injury, and you have no time to lose in setting a skilled lawyer to work in getting it for you.
To learn more about your rights after suffering a spinal cord injury in Boston, contact Finkelstein & Partners today at (877) 472-3061 for your free case evaluation.