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Huntington Beach Lifeguard Suffers Spinal Injury On the Job

Posted by Emily Ruby | Aug 21, 2023 | 0 Comments

An Orange County lifeguard suffered a serious spinal injury while working in Huntington Beach. According to a CBS News report, Elizabeth Lovat was on duty as a lifeguard when she suffered a spinal injury. She was rushed to an area hospital in serious, but stable condition. A spokesperson for the city said she was not "actively in a rescue" at the time of her injury, but was in the ocean.

CBS reports that this is Lovat's fourth summer as a certified lifeguard. She began her career in the city's junior lifeguard program as part of the elite Captains Corp. While Lovat attended Huntington Beach High School, she left California to continue her education in New York. No further information has been released about Lovat's condition.

Impact of a Spinal Injury at Work

Spinal injuries can range from moderate to serious or catastrophic. They have the potential to result in a variety of life-altering health effects such as paralysis. If your spinal cord injury at work was because of someone else's negligence or wrongdoing, you may be able to secure compensation for your losses.

Spinal injuries often have a significant impact on a person's life. For example, spinal injury victims could become disabled even if they are fortunate enough to survive the traumatic event. If you are living with a spinal injury, you may need ongoing medical care, rehabilitation and assistance with daily tasks for the rest of your life.

Also, the expenses relating to medical treatment, home remodeling and medical equipment may add up very quickly. Statistics show that even victims who are partially paralyzed may face $100,000 in expenses only in the first year and someone who is fully paralyzed may be looking at expenses over $400,000 just in that first year.

When you add to that the cost of ongoing medical care, nursing, income lost as a result of being unable to work or lost earning capacity, the losses may add up to millions of dollars during a person's lifetime. Living with a spinal cord injury may also mean dealing with the psychological effects of a disabling injury such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Third Party Spinal Injury Claims

If you have suffered spinal injuries at work, you may be able receive workers' compensation benefits to cover medical costs and a portion of your lost wages. However, you cannot sue your employer, under most circumstances, with personal injury claim alleging negligence. However, if someone other than your employer is responsible for causing your injuries, you may be able to file a work injury lawsuit against an at-fault third party. You can learn more about work injury compensation claim process here.

Third party lawsuits are worth much more than workers' compensation benefits because they cover non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress and loss of consortium. While families that have lost loved ones may be able to receive death benefits through workers' compensation insurance, it may still be woefully inadequate when a family is grappling with the death of its primary wage earner or sole breadwinner. 

What is the Value of a Spinal Injury Case?

If you suffered a spinal injury at work, it would be most helpful to have substantiating information including doctor's notes, hospital records as well as testimony from medical experts who can speak about the severity of your injuries. Each spinal injury case is unique. The value of your third-party lawsuit will likely depend on the severity of your injuries, the likelihood of your recovery, the degree of negligence on the part of the defendant, etc. There are many different factors that might affect the settlement value of your spinal injury case including:

  • Liability of the defendant
  • If the defendant's conduct was reckless or intentional
  • The nature and extent of the injuries
  • Your prognosis
  • The victim's age, occupation and medical history

What to Do After a Spinal Injury at Work

Here are some of the steps you would be well advised to take after a spinal injury at work:

  • Get medical attention and care right away and document the injury as work-related.
  • Officially report the injury your employer as soon as possible. In the report, explain your injuries and how they occurred in as much detail as you can. Waiting too long to report your injury could jeopardize your claim.
  • Request a workers' compensation filing form after you report the injury to your employer.
  • Collect as much evidence as possible including physical evidence and documents. Get records of your medical care including hospital records and bills.
  • Get statements from co-workers or anyone who witnessed your workplace injury.

Finally, contact an experienced Orange County work injury lawyer. Whether you are filing a workers' compensation claim or a third-party lawsuit, time is of the essence. Your work injury lawyer can help advise you regarding next steps and provide you with more information about pursuing your legal rights.


About the Author

Emily Ruby

2022 "Women in Law" Award Winner, Emily Ruby, specializes in complex cases, many of which involve catastrophic injuries and deaths. Mrs. Ruby has personally obtained more than $100 Million in compensation for her clients with an impressive 97.4% success rate and is a graduate of the prestigious CAALA Trial Academy. She was selected as one of Forbes' Best Wrongful Death Lawyers and is a writer for Advocate Magazine.


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