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Back Injury - Car Accident

The case was set for trial. Stephenson and Rife hired an animation company to prepare a video exhibit to help the jury understand the complexity of the surgery C.M. had to endure. Our attorneys shared the exhibit with State Farm at mediation shortly before trial. State Farm paid $850,000 to settle the case.

our client results

Traveling from the base of the skull down to the tailbone, the spine is one of the most vital parts of the human body. When it is damaged — in a motor vehicle collision, a fall, or a sports-related accident — the consequences can be life-altering… and life-ending.

Spine Basics

The spine is composed of small bones, called vertebrae, which are stacked on top of one another. They are generally thought of as being in three sections: the cervical spine, from the skull to the upper chest; the thoracic spine, from the upper chest to the middle back; and the lumbar vertebrae, from the middle to the lower back.

The vertebrae create a channel for the spinal cord, which carries messages from the brain throughout the body.

Between the vertebrae are flexible disks which act as shock absorbers and contain many nerve endings, as well as facet joints which assist in movement.

Muscles and ligaments are necessary to provide support and keep the spinal column in proper alignment. Trauma to any one of these parts of the spine can hamper natural movement, cause extreme pain and disability, and impair one’s earning ability and enjoyment of life.
The Indianapolis spine injury lawyers of the McNeely Stephenson law firm have helped many accident victims recover compensation for back injuries caused by the negligence of others. Call 1-855-206-2555 for a free consultation.

Spinal Cord Injury

Car accidents account for nearly half of all spinal cord injuries (SCI), and this type of injury causes significant and life-long disability. Each year there are about 12,000 new cases of spinal cord injury in the U.S., and currently there are approximately 256,000 Americans living with an SCI.

Spinal cord injuries are categorized as complete or incomplete, and the degree of disability varies accordingly. Generally, the closer the injury is to the head, the more dysfunction the person will experience. When trauma occurs to the high cervical nerves (C1-C4), the following impairments are typical:

  • Paralysis in arms, hands, trunk and legs; if all four limbs are affected, this is known as quadriplegia.
  • Inability to breathe on his or her own, cough, or control bowels or bladder
  • Speech impairment
  • Requires complete 24-hour care, including assistance in eating, dressing, bathing, and transferring
  • May be able to use powered wheelchairs
  • Will not be able to drive a car on their own.

Obviously, the medical and personal care expenses following a spinal cord injury are enormous, both immediately after the accident and for the rest of the patient’s lifetime.

At McNeely Stephenson, we vigorously assert our clients’ right to sufficient compensation for both past and future expenses, relying on analysis from medical experts and life planners.

In addition to doctor and hospital charges, adequate financial compensation for a spinal injury victim also includes expenses such as:

  • Home health care
  • Rehabilitation
  • Durable equipment and assistive devices
  • Psychological counseling
  • Lost income, present and future
  • Travel expenses
  • Household assistance.

Other Spine Injuries

Accidents can also cause injuries that are less severe than spinal cord injury but are still very painful and disabling. One of the most common injuries sustained in highway collisions is whiplash, caused by quick and jarring movement of the neck.

The bones of the spinal column may be fractured by a forceful impact. Spinal fractures may be treated non-surgically with a brace or may require surgical procedures and the insertion of metal screws, rods and cages. In addition to the risk of spinal fluid leaks, these surgeries are subject to the same complications as other surgical procedures, including blood clots and infection.

Sudden traumatic force may also cause injury to the material between vertebrae, or herniated disks. The pain associated with a herniated disk ranges from slight to debilitating, is usually intensified by movement, and typically occurs along the sciatic nerve, down the back of the leg. A herniated disk may also cause numbness, muscle weakness and paralysis.

real-life cases

“B.K.” was driving on a two-lane road one Sunday afternoon with his mother in the front seat and his brother and sister-in-law in the back seat when his life was forever changed. B.K. was struck head on by D.C.

D.C. had spent the day drinking with a friend and had stopped at a restaurant less than five miles from the point of the accident where D.C. had been served several drinks. D.C.’s blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.

As a result of the terrible wreck, B.K. received devastating injuries, which included multiple broken bones, facial fractures, and loss of vision. B.K.’s mother, brother, and sister-in-law were all killed in the accident.

As one would anticipate, D.C. had virtually no insurance. Stephenson, through his thorough and detailed investigation, was able to prepare claims against the restaurant and those that provided the alcohol.

Stephenson pursued dram shop claims against those responsible CASE SUMMARY

D.H. was a competitive bicyclist who was riding in preparation for a cross-country fundraising ride. In the spring of 2010, D.H. was riding across an old steel-grated deck bridge in Shelby County when he hit a hole in the bridge and flipped over the handlebars of his bike. The impact to the bridge decking caused severe injuries to his face, teeth, tongue, and elbow.

Through the investigation, they were able to learn as early as 1998, the bridge inspection reports showed the bridge in question needed to be replaced. The county never authorized additional inspections. The county obtained $844,000 in funding for the replacement of the bridge in 2000, but the Historical Society and adjacent property owners wanted the bridge repaired rather than replaced.

This crash could have been avoided if the inspectors and county had done their jobs. CASE SUMMARY

Our client (“D.W.”) was a front-seat passenger in a vehicle that was struck by a UDF truck making deliveries. D.W. received broken arms and legs, as well as internal injuries. Stephenson was retained by D.W.’s personal counsel to prepare and try the case. Discovery determined that the UDF driver had multiple driving violations. Stephenson retained numerous experts to show the jury the devastating effects of the injuries. Before trial, the defendant’s company stated that a jury in a small southern county in Indiana would never return a verdict for $1 million in this case.

The defendant was correct; the verdict was twice that amount. CASE SUMMARY

Indiana Spine Injury Attorneys

Located in Indianapolis, the McNeely Stephenson law firm has been successfully representing Indiana accident victims since 1982. See our Case Results page to read about “C.M.,” a client who suffered a low back injury in a car accident caused by a drowsy driver and had to have multi-level fusion surgery. We were prepared to take his case to the jury, but were able to obtain an $850,000 settlement shortly before trial was to begin.

If you or your loved one has suffered a spinal injury — in a car or truck crash, a workplace accident, a sports competition or a diving accident — which was due to the negligence of another person, business or manufacturer, let the resources and experience of McNeely Stephenson put you on the path to justice and financial security. Use the convenient online contact form or call 1-855-206-2555.

Personal Injury Lawyer
March 9, 2018 / Vehicle Accidents
PERCLOS: The Newest Way to Detect Drowsy Drivers

How many times have you seen a weaving car on the road and wondered, is that driver under the influence? Did you ever consider that they might be sleepy and not drunk? It turns out that drowsy driving is a much bigger problem than the official statistics would lead you to believe. The U.S. government’s figures have traditionally pegged drowsy driving as responsible for, at most, 2 percent of all crashes. But a new study using the PERCLOS m...


Mike Stephenson is a Super Lawyer in Indiana along with many of his peers at McNeely Stephenson. This is one of the highest honors an attorney can achieve


The AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale Hubbell is the HIGHEST RATING and considered a significant accomplishment. It is a peer-reviewed process reflecting that other attorneys rank Mike Stephenson at the highest possible level of professional excellence.


Attorney Mike Stephenson is a proud member of The Litigation Counsel of America’s Honorary Society. A close-knit, peer-selected, and aggressively diverse honorary society of 3,500 of the “best trial lawyers” in the country. Less than one-half of one percent of American lawyers, vigorously vetted for skills, expertise, and service; an invitation-only collegial network.


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Our attorneys are proven advocates and trial attorneys. They have served as lead trial counsel in more than 100 civil jury trials, and have handled litigation in 18 states