What Is the Legal Basis of a Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit?

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A spinal cord injury is one of the most significant and life-changing injuries that an accident victim can suffer. Severe spinal cord injuries can result in permanent nerve damage and paralysis, or the loss of feeling and function below the point of injury. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a spinal cord injury that was caused by a preventable incident, such as a car crash or act of violence, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit in Nebraska on one or more legal bases.

Medical diagram of neck/spine injury pain and inflammation.

Spinal Cord Injuries and Negligence

In many cases, spinal cord injuries in Nebraska are caused by preventable or avoidable accidents. Common examples are car accidents, truck accidents, slip and falls, workplace accidents, construction accidents, medical malpractice, blasts and explosions, and sports incidents. These accidents are commonly caused by carelessness or negligence on the part of one or more parties.

Negligence is the failure to use ordinary or reasonable care; in other words, an acceptable level of care for the scenario. A motor vehicle driver who texts and drives, for example, is negligent. Negligence is the legal basis for most spinal cord injury lawsuits and personal injury claims in general. As the victim or filing party (plaintiff), it is up to you or your spinal cord injury attorney to prove negligence using a preponderance of the evidence.

The Four Elements of Negligence

The burden of proof in a spinal cord injury lawsuit rests with the plaintiff. This means you or your lawyer must provide clear and convincing evidence that the defendant is more likely to be at fault for your spinal cord injury than not at fault. The evidence must establish four main elements. These make up the legal basis of negligence:

  1. Duty of care: a legal or ethical responsibility that the defendant owes the plaintiff to exercise an ordinary level of care.
  1. Breach of duty: an act or omission that deviates from the defendant’s duty of care to the plaintiff.
  1. Causation: proof of actual causation between the plaintiff’s spinal cord injury and the defendant’s breach of the duty of care.
  1. Damages: specific and compensable losses suffered by the victim, such as medical bills for the spinal cord injury or lost wages.

You or your lawyer are responsible for proving these elements as true with at least a 51 percent certainty. This may require evidence such as accident reports, police reports, photographs, videos, medical records, eyewitness statements and expert testimony.

Other Grounds for Filing a Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit

Although negligence is the number one legal basis on which to build a spinal cord injury claim in Nebraska, there may be other options, depending on the circumstances. If a defective product caused the spinal cord injury, for example, the victim may have grounds for a strict product liability lawsuit. This type of case does not require the injured victim to prove that the manufacturing company was negligent. It is enough to show that the spine injury was caused by a product that contained a defect.

Other spinal cord injury cases may be based on the grounds of a defendant’s recklessness or malicious intent to harm. For example, acts of violence such as gunshot wounds that cause spinal cord injuries could lead to a personal injury claim against the shooter for intent to harm the victim. Recklessness, or a wanton and willful disregard for the safety of others, could also give a victim grounds to file a personal injury claim. Driving under the influence, for instance, exceeds the definition of negligence but can still place liability for a victim’s spinal cord injury with the drunk driver. To find out if you have grounds to file a spinal cord injury lawsuit – and for assistance proving the basis of your claim – contact a personal injury lawyer in Omaha.