Oregon Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer

Each year about 17,000 Americans suffer a non-fatal injury to the spinal cord, the bundle of central nervous system nerves that carries information between the brain and most of the body.  Without a properly functioning spinal cord, the brain cannot get the information required to feel physical sensations, and the brain cannot send the information required to voluntarily move muscles. Motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries in younger people, while falls are the leading cause for those over 65 years of age.  Overall, about 78% of spinal cord injury survivors are male.

Typically, those with complete spinal cord injuries  are unlikely to recover much if any function, particularly after the first few days.  Complete spinal cord injuries involve a total loss of motor (muscle) and sensory function.  If the spinal cord is severed, for example, there is no recovery. Those with incomplete spinal cord injuries sometimes recover some function, if treated promptly.  As one physician put it in one of our trials, “time is spine”: with some spine injuries, prompt treatment (typically, emergency neurosurgery) can make a huge difference.

A spinal cord injury should be viewed as a medical emergency requiring immediate attention.  Seek immediate medical care for these symptoms, among others:

  • Loss or sudden impairment of bowel or bladder function or control.
  • Partial or complete loss of control over any body part.
  • Loss of or abnormal sensation in the groin area, or in the feet (including toes) or hands (including fingers).

Survivors of spinal cord injuries often face a lifetime of challenges, risks, and specialized assistance, medical, and care needs.  Those with spinal cord injuries that involve paralysis of both the arms and legs (quadriplegia, usually from an injury to the spinal cord at the neck) typically have a much harder time than those who are still able to use their arms (paraplegia, from an injury to the mid or lower back). While over the decades someone is always predicting a cure around the corner, it hasn’t happened yet. According to the National Spine Injury Statistical Center, the out-of-pocket costs for spinal cord injuries range from the low millions to the many millions of dollars, depending on the age of the survivor and the severity of the spinal cord injury.  These statistics do not include the survivor’s losses of income and their human losses.

A spinal cord injury survivor typically needs a strong support team that includes a neurosurgeon, rehabilitation physician, physical therapists, vocational counselor, and specialized assistive equipment.  Someone who has suffered a spinal cord injury that was caused by the wrongful conduct of another also needs the assistance of a qualified personal injury attorney who has handled spinal cord injury cases all of the way through trial.  Spinal cord injury cases are complex, and often high stakes, because the survivor’s future well-being may depend on the quality of the legal services provided. If you think you have a spinal cord injury case, contact us right away.

Have You Suffered A Spinal Cord Injury?

Here Are Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

What is an acute spinal cord injury?

Traumatic spinal cord injuries are generally caused by forces that bruise, compress, partially tear, or completely tear the spinal cord or nerves going from the spinal cord to another part of the body.  Spinal cord injuries are a too-common cause of permanent disability and death in children and adults.

The spinal cord is the bundle of nerves that carries messages between the brain and the rest of the body for movement and sensation.  The spinal cord runs downward through a canal in the center of the vertebrae bones that extend down from the top of the neck. (Technically, once those nerves get down to the lower spine, they are called the cauda equina, not the spinal cord).

Spinal cord injuries are generally medical emergencies requiring extremely prompt treatment, although unfortunately, many times the injury is irreversible from the start.  How a spinal cord injury affects a person after trauma otherwise depends in large part on two factors: where the injury occurred on the spinal cord, and the severity of injury.

The higher up on the spinal cord the injury, the more of the body that may have loss of movement and sensation.  The lowest part of the spinal cord that remains undamaged after an injury is referred to as the neurological level of the injury.  Injuries affecting the upper spinal cord can cause tetraplegia (also called  quadriplegia), which can affect the arms, hands, trunk, legs, and pelvic organs.  Injuries lower down can cause paraplegia, which can affect all or part of the trunk, legs, and pelvic organs.

The severity of the injury is often called “the completeness” and is classified as either complete or incomplete:

  • Complete. If all feeling (sensory) and all ability to control movement (motor function) are lost below the spinal cord injury, the injury is called complete.
  • Incomplete. If there is some motor or sensory function below the affected area, the injury is called incomplete. There are varying degrees of incomplete injury.

Source (see): https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/spinal-cord-injury/symptoms-causes/syc-20377890

What are the most common causes of spinal cord injuries?

Many things can cause spinal cord injuries.  The more common acute accidental spinal cord injuries occur when an area of the neck or back is bent, compressed, or broken, which may happen from: 

  • Vehicle crashes (automobiles, motorcycles, ATVs, and being struck as a pedestrian)
  • Violence (primarily gunshot wounds)
  • Falls
  • Sports/recreation activities
How are acute spinal cord injuries diagnosed?

Emergency medical evaluation is needed whenever there is a suspected injury to the spinal cord.  Any of these symptoms (and others) may be caused by a traumatic spinal cord injury: loss of voluntary muscle movement (particularly in the arms or legs), loss of feeling (sensation), loss of bowel or bladder control or normal sexual function, an onset of pain that radiates into the arms or legs, or new unusual sensations that might be described as burning or prickling.

The diagnosis typically starts with a physical exam and diagnostic tests, particularly imaging. During the exam, the healthcare provider will usually ask about the medical history and how the injury occurred. Diagnostic imaging may include:

  • X-rays, primarily to identify broken or dislocated bones.
  • Computed tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan), which uses X-rays and computer technology to produce detailed images (often called slices) of the body. A CT scan shows not just bones, but also muscles, fat, and organs. 
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which uses large magnets, radio frequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.

Source (see): Acute Spinal Cord Injury – John Hopkins Medicine

How common are spinal cord injuries?

Every year there are an estimated 17,000 or so new spinal cord injuries in the United States (this figure does not include those who die at the scene).  Estimates of survivors vary, from about 250,000 to 450,000 Americans living with spinal cord injuries.  

Source: https://www.aans.org/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Spinal-Cord-Injury

What is the average yearly economic cost of having a spinal cord injury?

The average yearly expenses (health care costs and living expenses) directly attributable to spinal cord injuries vary greatly, depending in part on the level and severity of the neurological impairment.  The additional losses to earnings, fringe benefits, and productivity vary based in part on the person’s education and pre-injury employment history.  Over the course of an injured person’s lifetime, the direct economic costs of a spinal cord injury can often run in the multiple millions of dollars.

Most people agree that in cases of paralysis, the human (“noneconomic”) costs of spinal cord injuries are much greater than the out of pocket expenses.  In any given individual’s case involving spinal cord injury, a specific evaluation is generally done in order to have a fairer understanding of that person’s harms, losses, and needs.

Why Should I Hire a Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer?

Spinal cord injuries are some of the most severe injuries a person can suffer.  As a result, the losses suffered because of spinal cord injuries are particularly great. Seeking fair compensation for these spinal cord injury damages can potentially be complicated and challenging. So, hiring a qualified personal injury attorney can be helpful. 

A qualified spinal cord injury lawyer will have the experience, skills, and resources necessary to help deal with obstacles preventing an injured person from getting the compensation they need.  A good spinal cord injury lawyer should have experience dealing with health care and other specialists who can help accurately determine the full extent of losses and needs.  Those specialists might include neurosurgeons, rehabilitation physicians, vocational counselors, therapists, life care planners, economists, and others. 

Since the damages are often very high in spinal cord injury cases,  insurance companies will pull out all the stops to fight a case.  A good spinal cord injury lawyer will have a trial track record that lets the insurance company know that the claim will be prosecuted fully, and will have the skill and determination to prepare and try the case if needed.  

Failure to fully prepare both the liability and the damages case, and in particular, to understand the issues unique to spinal cord injuries, can lead to mistakes that can harm an injured person’s case and reduce their recovery.  An experienced trial lawyer can help level the playing field. The Corson & Johnson Law Firm can provide the experience and resources needed to give a person a spinal cord injury a fair shot at justice.

How Can a Lawyer Assist With My Spinal Cord Injury?

If you sustain a spinal cord injury, your life can be permanently changed. One of the things that you can do after an Oregon spinal cord injury is to hire a personal injury lawyer in Oregon to hold the wrongdoer responsible.  As your attorneys, we can help make things easier for you and your family during a difficult and stressful time in your life.

Providing Trustworthy and Personalized Legal Advice

First, a good spinal cord injury attorney can listen to your personal story and give you legal advice that you can trust. Unlike the adjuster for an adverse  insurance company, who has been trained to minimize your financial recovery, a personal injury attorney works for you and you alone. Your attorney will want what is best for you and your family: holding the defendant accountable, maximizing your financial recovery, and making sure that you have everything you need to the extent the legal system can provide that.

Most personal injury lawyers offer free initial consultations, where they talk to prospective clients about what happened and their legal rights, at no cost or obligation to the injured survivor. This means that you can speak to an attorney who is experienced in spinal cord injuries about whether or not your case has merit without paying anything upfront. If you do have a legitimate case, you can decide if you wish to move forward with the attorney as your legal representative.

Filing a Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuit

One of the main things that your attorney can take care of for you is filing a personal injury lawsuit. This can be a complicated process.  As your lawyer, we can help investigate your injury incident to determine fault, identify the defendant(s), collect evidence to support your injury claim, hire qualified experts, fill out the required paperwork, negotiate on your behalf, prepare and file the lawsuit, have the lawsuit papers served on the defendant(s), meet Oregon’s time deadlines, and more. The list of legal legwork that a law firm can do for you is long.

Advocating on Your Behalf

A personal injury attorney will be your biggest advocate.  Good personal injury attorneys are passionate about the people they represent and protecting their rights – especially when a case involves a catastrophic or life-changing injury such as a spinal cord injury. An experienced spinal cord injury attorney will understand personal injury law and how to protect you in the legal process. 

Your attorney will advocate for you, and indirectly, your family.  From proving fault to proving the extent of your injuries and losses to arguing for fully fair  compensation, your attorney should do everything ethical to help you with your personal injury case. 

Can Hiring an Attorney Help Increase Compensation?

Usually, yes, but not always.

There are cases where fault is clear, there is only one possible defendant, the injured person’s losses are catastrophic, and the defendant has only limited insurance coverage, which may be offered in full to resolve the claim.  In those cases, an attorney cannot likely increase the amount of the overall recovery.  An attorney may or may not be able to increase the injured person’s net recovery, such as by negotiating liens and other claims against a settlement.

However, even when it seems straightforward, an attorney may be able to increase both the overall compensation and the injured person’s net  recovery.  For example, there may be other defendants that legitimately should contribute to the injured person’s compensation.  Or, there may be additional layers of insurance or other assets that should be made available.  

Many cases need an attorney in order to increase the injured person’s compensation.  Insurance companies are in business; they do not settle to be nice or out of charity.  Their business decisions are driven by the risk of trial.  The risk to a defendant and the defendant’s insurance company that a trial may require them to pay the injured person is ultimately the reason that cases settle.  An insurance company facing an experienced, hardworking attorney has a risk of trial that they do not face when dealing with an unrepresented person.

Although no dollar amount is ever sufficient for a life-long spinal cord injury, achieving a fair result on a legal claim can make a huge impact on your future.  It can give you and your family the resources needed to pay for ongoing medical care, medical devices, modified vehicles for transportation, disability accommodations, and assistive care.  If you suffer a traumatic spinal cord injury because of the irresponsible behavior of someone else, working with a qualified attorney is an important way to get the justice that you deserve. The right attorney can provide greater peace of mind when you need it the most.

Spinal Cord Injury Cases

Partial Paraplegia: Record Josephine County Trial Result

Workplace Injury Leads to Partial Paraplegia: $2.285 Million Verdict.

Lower Spinal Cord Injury

VA System Failures Injures Marine Corps Veteran: $3.25 million.

Child Quadriplegia

Defective Child Car Restraint: Confidential Settlement.

The attorneys at Corson & Johnson have helped countless individuals and families over the past three-plus decades.
Please click on the Read More Cases link highlighted below to see additional Spinal Cord Injury case examples.
If you think you may have a case, please call, email, or text us; we would be happy to talk with you.

Client Testimonials

Janos Tivadar

“On August 10th, 2003, just four days after my 28th birthday, my life was permanently altered by a reckless and violent, drug-induced, drunk driver who crashed head-on and into my car. Everyone in the vehicle was injured, with my injuries being the most severe. I suffered a complete spinal cord injury, which changed everything in my life in an instant.

Nearly 17 years later, I remain paralyzed from the chest down, and on that day, I not only lost my ability to walk but my ability to do the field engineer work I once loved so much. In these unpredictable and devastating moments in life, it is essential to surround yourself with people you can trust. My physical rehabilitation was a long road, and as if that wasn’t hard enough, I also had to figure out how I was going to support myself financially.

As someone who worked in a physically demanding job, with a lot of international travel, I had no idea how to move forward with my life or what I would be capable of achieving in the future. I can honestly say, I feel so fortunate to have had the legal guidance of Don Carson. Don not only professionally represented me, but he was relentless in settling an agreement that would help assist me financially. He put his heart and soul into helping me achieve the best outcome and, in many ways, offered tremendous emotional support that went way beyond his call to a legal duty.

My reliance upon him, both professionally and emotionally, should not be understated. With his expertise, I was able to receive a financial settlement for my lifelong medical bills as well as a path forward to make a living and successfully support myself. Don is not only a brilliant lawyer; he is honest and trustworthy and committed to doing the best for his clients, even in the most challenging circumstances. With Don at the helm, you will not only have the most capable legal guidance but someone who cares about your overall well-being. I give him my highest recommendation.”

John Miltenberger
Grants Pass, OR

“I was injured several years ago in a mill accident near Grants Pass. Unfortunately, the doctors who treated me after the accident made several mistakes, leaving me partially paralyzed for the rest of my life. Don Corson took my case to trial and the jury awarded me the largest medial negligence or personal injury verdict in the county’s history. In representing me, Don was honest about the strengths and weakness of my case and thorough in his preparation for it. At the trial, he was well-prepared and quick on his feet. I was very impressed with him, as were the numerous court employees who came in to watch him in trial. I would absolutely recommend him to my friends and family.”

Spinal Cord Injury Resources


Craig Hospital is a highly respected nonprofit center providing specialty rehabilitation and research for people with spinal cord injuries as well as those with brain injuries. A number of the people we have represented have been treated at Craig, which is located in Denver, Colorado.  Craig Hospital has an extensive spinal cord injury resource library that can be accessed online: https://craighospital.org/

Oregon Paralyzed Veterans of America

Oregon Paralyzed Veterans of America (now called Paralyzed Veterans of America Tri-State Chapter) is part of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, a congressionally chartered veterans service organization founded in 1946.  PVA supports U.S. military veterans with spinal cord injury or disease to help them enjoy the highest possible quality of life.

Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation is a non-profit organization supporting survivors of spinal cord injuries. 

Christopher Reeve was an actor best known for his Superman movie roles who suffered a spinal cord injury in a horseback riding accident.  The Foundation provides resources for those who are newly paralyzed, for parents, and for caregivers.

Oregon Chapter of United Spinal Association

The United Spinal Association works to improve the quality of life of all people living with spinal cord injuries and disorders, and is committed to advancing public policies that lead to greater civil rights and independence for people with disabilities.  The national organization offers access to support groups, peer support services, an online help desk, and more.


FacingDisability provides internet-based information and support for people with spinal cord injuries and the members of their families. This website has extensive videos of both medical interviews and personal and family interviews.  Its online library (https://facingdisability.com) includes hundreds of resources covering topics ranging from assistive technology to disability advocates to financial assistance.

How can we help you?

Our team is ready

If you would like to speak with a member of our legal team, please call us at 541-484-2525 or contact us using the form. There is no charge for this initial consultation. We offer Free Virtual Consultations using Zoom. Please fill out the contact form to request an initial consultation.

Please keep in mind that we can only help a limited number of people at one time, and that we try to focus on serious cases where we think we might be able to make a meaningful difference in a person’s life. We will promptly follow-up and be in contact with you.

Or give us a call or text message

(541) 484-2525

Get in touch with us