What are Pain and Suffering Damages After a Spinal Cord Injury?

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There are a plethora of different types of injuries that happen to everyday citizens on a regular basis. Although unfortunate, the reality of modern living means that with the luxury of cars, futuristic technology, a wide range of career options, and more, comes inherent risks. This extends to one of the most extreme and dangerous types of injuries out there – a spinal cord injury. This type of injury can completely turn lives upside-down and create wakes in the courtroom.

Girl Suffers from Spinal Cord Injury Changing Her Life Forever Following Crash with Police

A hurricane only six years ago created havoc in Miami-Dade County of Florida. Hurricane Matthew shook the community to its core, going so far as to degrade the physical infrastructure of towns and cities. Roads were flooded, highways shut down, and a number of people evacuated from southern Florida. The impact of this hurricane even extended to affect the electrical grid of the county – meaning traffic lights were largely unoperational.

The standard procedure for non-working traffic lights is to treat them as stop signs. This is meant to protect everybody who is approaching the intersection and ensure that no one falsely believes that they have the right of way when the other side of the intersection has no indication that they are supposed to stop. Officer Daniel Escarra did not act within the law, however.

Fany Otero had her daughter on her lap as she, her husband, and their family drove to Walmart. They were allegedly headed toward the superstore in order to buy materials to prepare for the incoming tropical storm. Hector Meraz-Funez was driving, albeit without a valid driver’s license, a seatbelt, and with eight people packed into a small sedan. His family’s life would change forever only moments after approaching an intersection.

Officer Escarra sped into the intersection at a break-neck pace. He was traveling 75 mph in a 40 mph zone. He was pursuing a suspect who had bailed out of a car that he had stolen only minutes ago. He was allegedly on foot sprinting through a south Florida neighborhood so as to not be caught by police.

County Makes Historic Pain and Suffering Payout to Ensure Child’s Future Needs Are Met

Despite attempting to catch the man, the county officer failed to respect the law regarding proper procedure when approaching an intersection with non-functioning traffic lights. Escarra did not stop his vehicle and slammed into the Audi that was carrying the Meraz-Funez family. Upon impact, chaos ensued.

Most of the family was rattled around in the car with great force, many sustaining injuries. They were partially found at fault for Meraz-Funez’s failure to yield to police sirens and properly secure his family in seatbelts. However, this ultimately meant little considering the damage that was done to the 13th-month-old child in Fany Otero’s lap.

Yeilyn Quiroz Otero was ejected from her mother’s lap in the blink of an eye. She suffered severe bodily damage in the blink of an eye. Her spinal cord was severed almost immediately, leaving her with injuries strikingly similar to those that would place her father in a vegetative state for an indefinite amount of time.

A short time after the crash, the family turned to lawyers. The attorney sought to secure over $20 million for the medical bills, future medical bills, lifetime care, and pain and suffering. Despite this, state officials found that the family was partially at fault and that they would not receive nearly the $20 million that it would take to raise their child for the rest of her life.

Despite not receiving quite that large sum of money, the county paid the statutory cap of $200,000 and did not contest the $3.8 million claim bill filed by the attorneys representing the family. This case shed important light on the importance of pain and suffering damages, as Yeilyn Quiroz Otero will lead a drastically different life than she would if she had not had her spinal cord severed in the accident.

Defining Pain and Suffering from a Legal Standpoint

Pain and suffering damages can be a difficult legal mechanism to understand. These types of damages differ from medical bill compensation as they do not represent a physical bill that one has received in the mail. With that being said, pain and suffering damage essentially covers the physical or emotional pain that one has had to endure as a result of an accident. This is awarded with the knowledge that this pain and suffering would not have happened if it was not for the accident in question. Large amounts of money can be awarded to individuals and families as a result – improving their quality of life as they recover from severe injury.

How Non-Economic Damages Are Calculated

There is no agreed-upon way to calculate pain and suffering. As previously discussed, pain suffering is merely a condition experienced by individuals and therefore cannot be easily quantified in monetary value. Despite this, insurance companies, law firms, and judicial bodies have come up with two main ways to assess pain-and-suffering damages.

The multiplier method adds up all special damages and multiplies that number between 1.5 and five, generally speaking. The number that the special damages is multiplied both depends on an array of factors that depends on your case but can oftentimes amount to a large sum of money. On the other end of the spectrum is the daily rates method. This method, in short, assesses how much pain and suffering is experienced on a daily basis and is multiplied by the number of days that it will continue. These are likely how the damages of Yeilyn Quiroz Otero were assessed and awarded.

How Spinal Cord Injuries Tie into Pain and Suffering Damages

One of the most common injuries that lead to high amounts of pain and suffering damages is spinal cord injuries. Spinal cord injuries are life-changing and can place people in vegetative states, permanently paralyze them, and have long-lasting effects on one’s quality of life. These are important for victims to seek through attorneys as they can drastically improve their livelihoods for decades to come. Yet while insurance companies dance around payouts and refuse to cooperate, lawyers and attorneys step in in order to create a real difference in the lives of ordinary individuals.