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Spinal cord tragedy raises questions, may include civil liability

A spinal cord injury is more commonly associated with sporting injuries, falls or motor vehicle accidents, rather than one’s treatment while in police custody. However, the recent tragedy involving Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black youth who died while in custody with the Baltimore police, has raised questions. 

The criminal investigation is ongoing, and will involve a different legal standard than any civil lawsuit claims alleging wrongful death. However, the evidence uncovered in that criminal investigation may be useful in the civil context, where a plaintiff must prove negligence by a preponderance of the evidence. 

Yet liability is only one phase of a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit arising from a spinal cord injury. Since nerve tissue in the spinal cord often involves permanent damage, it is important for a personal injury plaintiff to request damages that rise to the level of tragedy involved. For example, the loss of mobility from a spinal cord injury might translate into damages that extend beyond the immediate medical bills. Such calculations might estimate lost wages, pain and suffering, other quality of life considerations, as well as long-term care expenses. For surviving loved ones, however, the loss of life may seem immeasurable. 

Indeed, a spinal cord injury can be devastating news to anyone, and the political context surrounding the Freddie Gray incident raises additional questions and adds another dimension to the tragedy. Our law firm understands the emotional impact involving personal injury and wrongful death claims. We can work with victims or surviving loved ones to help them bring civil lawsuits that will require those accused of negligence to answer for their actions in a court of law.

Source: Voice of American, “Obama Calls for New Commitment to Help Minority Youths Succeed,” May 4, 2015

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