How a Catastrophic Back Injury Can Lead to Significant Damages

November 2, 2022

Back Injury Lawyers Serving Clients in Bethlehem and Throughout Pennsylvania

Catastrophic injuries — including those that affect the back, spine, brain, and other critical body systems — can give rise to complex litigation, as the injured plaintiff’s claim is likely to be substantial given the significant impairments and losses.

For example, if you are rendered paraplegic in a car accident, then obviously your damages are likely to be significantly more (all else being equal) than if you had only fractured your leg.  An injury that causes you to become paraplegic will have a long-term impact on your physical, psychological, and social health, and may severely undermine your ability to work.

Given the high-stakes nature of catastrophic injury litigation, it’s important that you consult with a team of attorneys who have extensive experience handling personal injury claims that involve significant injuries.  Please call us here at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC for more information about how we can help you move forward with your catastrophic injury claims.

Back Injuries Can Cause Pain and Functional Impairment

The back is particularly vulnerable to damage in an accident and can lead to significant and long-term functional impairments.  Regardless of the individual, the back is central to many intertwined systems in the body — it houses the spinal cord, and provides the necessary support for the most full-body movement.

Injuries to the back can give rise to:

  • Severe pain and suffering
    • Limited mobility
    • Difficulty making accurate movements
    • Burning sensations
    • Stabbing sensations
    • Strength deficits
    • Paralysis
    • Inability to work
    • Inability to perform normal household chores
    • Marital problems
    • And more

The losses may vary quite significantly depending on the lifestyle and career of the plaintiff as well.  For example, if the plaintiff is a mountain climber and hiker who has a very active lifestyle, then a severe back injury (that prevents them from engaging in strenuous recreational activities) could lead to lost enjoyment of life, which must be accounted for in the damages of the claim.

Calculating the Financial and Non-Financial Costs of Catastrophic Back Injuries

In Pennsylvania, victims who suffer catastrophic back injuries in vehicle collisions and other accidents can seek just compensation for their financial and non-financial losses. Calculating these losses requires an in-depth understanding of Pennsylvania law; and, as a result, it is important for victims to choose an experienced lawyer who can help them seek the full compensation they deserve.

When it comes to calculating damages in a catastrophic back injury case, the steps are complicated.  Financial loss, or economic loss, is one thing.  But how do you calculate your pain and suffering?  How do you put a number on your non-economic, non-financial losses?

Calculating Your Financial Losses

Financial losses fall into two main categories: (i) out-of-pocket costs and (ii) loss of income. Accident victims can recover their current and future losses in both categories; and, in cases involving catastrophic back injuries, the future financial costs will typically far exceed costs to date.

  • Medical Care and Related Expenses – To calculate the long-term costs of medical care for catastrophic back injuries, our lawyers work closely with our clients’ doctors to understand their diagnoses, prognoses and future treatment needs. We also work with surgeons, psychologists, and other specialists, like life care planners, who have devoted their careers to understanding the lifelong effects of traumatic injuries and what the costs of such treatment may be.
  • Other Outof-Pocket Costs – Along with medical expenses, catastrophic back injuries can lead to a variety of other costs as well. From transportation to landscaping, cleaning and home health services, we rely on our understanding of our clients’ future medical needs to assess the other costs they are likely to incur as well.
  • Loss of Income – Calculating loss of income requires an understanding of the long-term effects of a victim’s back injury and the victim’s earning history. Even if a back injury does not result in a complete inability to work, it may justify a claim for partial loss of earning capacity.

Calculating Your Non-Financial Losses

Calculating just compensation for the non-financial costs of catastrophic injuries is more complicated. Unlike out-of-pocket expenses and lost earnings, it isn’t possible to forecast a specific dollar amount that an accident victim will lose over his or her lifetime. Instead, when it comes to calculating just compensation for non-financial losses such as pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and loss of enjoyment of life, Pennsylvania law recognizes two main methods:

  • Per Diem Method – With the per diem method, the focus is on determining an appropriate daily “value” of the victim’s non-financial losses. Then, this value gets multiplied by the number of days the victim is expected to experience the non-financial effects of his or her back injury. Depending on the severity of the injury, this could be a matter of months or years, or it could be the rest of the victim’s life.
  • Multiplier Method – With the multiplier method, the first step is to calculate the victim’s financial costs. Then, based on the severity of the victim’s injury, this total is multiplied by a number (typically between 1.5 and 5) in order to arrive at a reasonable estimation of the “value” of the victim’s non-financial losses. 

Contact Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC for Immediate Guidance

Here at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC, our attorneys have decades of experience serving Pennsylvania plaintiffs who have suffered injuries in a variety of accident scenarios.  We handle motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, trip and falls, dog bite attacks, and medical malpractice.  We also handle product liability claims.  Successfully litigating a catastrophic injury claim can be quite challenging, and requires substantial focus, relentless advocacy, and a commitment to detail-oriented representation.

It is not enough that you win your catastrophic injury case.  Importantly, your damages must be maximized so that all losses can be sufficiently covered.  We can help.

We are proven litigators who are willing and able to try a case to conclusion.  Whereas many other litigators are quick to settle a case and move on to their next client, we take the time to thoroughly prepare for litigation, which allows us exercise additional leverage during settlement negotiations with opposing counsel (with the hopes of securing a more favorable result).  If negotiations break down, we are ready to pursue litigation through the courts.  We are ready to be your champion. 

Curious about your claims?  Call us at 610-882-1717 or contact us online to arrange for a meeting with one of the skilled Bethlehem back injury lawyers at our firm today.  Consultation is free, confidential, and no-obligation.  We look forward to hearing from you.