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Spinal Cord Injuries Caused by Drunk Drivers: The High Cost of Living in a Wheelchair

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

Losing one’s ability to walk because of a drunk driver is a traumatic, life-changing event. It is also incredibly expensive. The enormous long-term costs associated with life in a wheelchair can often greatly exceed the financial capacity of most victims and their families.

While no financial award can compensate for the irreversible damage of a spinal cord injury, monetary damages can help ease the burden of learning a new way of life. If you or a loved one experienced a spinal cord injury due to the negligence and reckless conduct of a drunk driver, contact Greene, Broillet, & Wheeler, LLP, today.

Drunk Driving That Results in Spinal Cord Injuries

Alcohol hurts a person’s ability to drive in the following ways:

  • Diminishes reaction time
  • Reduces the ability to concentrate and comprehend
  • Affects a driver’s tracking of other cars and the centerline
  • Reduces hand/eye/foot coordination

A drunk driver who takes to the road is creating a recipe for disaster. The inability to concentrate, along with the lack of coordination, can result in a collision. The often-violent impact of such a crash can cause trauma to the brain and spinal cord. Victims of drunk driving accidents often never walk again.

Making Sure Insurers and Responsible Parties Pay

Spinal cord injury victims often face huge out-of-pocket expenses. Sometimes, insurance companies refuse to pay for those expenses. Other times, victims and their families have trouble proving claims to insurance adjusters even when the insurer acknowledges liability.

When insurance is not adequate to meet the new financial needs of victims and their families, California law may entitle them to recover compensation from the parties responsible for drunk driving accidents. Those parties could include the drunk driver, the driver’s employer, and, in some cases, the bar or restaurant that served the driver.

At Greene, Broillet, & Wheeler, LLP, we believe drunk driving accident victims and their families should not go through the process of seeking compensation alone. Our attorneys know how to handle aggressive insurance representatives. We have the experience to identify the liable parties and, if necessary, to pursue legal claims against them all the way through a trial. We fight for fair compensation for our clients so they can afford the equipment and services they need to regain their independence.

Large New Expenses

People who suffer spinal cord injuries as a result of accidents caused by drunk drivers can face enormous expenses that do not stop mounting upon release from the hospital—they continue, and possibly increase, throughout the victim’s lifetime. The experienced attorneys at Greene, Broillet, & Wheeler, LLP, know how to calculate these costs to help ensure that settlements or judgments are adequate to pay a lifetime of expenses, which may include:

  • Ongoing medical expenses. After discharge from the hospital, spinal cord injury victims can face millions of dollars of ongoing medical expenses.
  • Home modifications. Home life in a wheelchair makes ordinary tasks challenging. Home modifications to accommodate wheelchairs are expensive, costing more than $20,000 for a kitchen and $10,000 for a bathroom. In some circumstances, a home is too old or in too poor a condition to remodel. This, or the need for closer proximity to a medical facility, may require relocation to another home—and buying real estate in Los Angeles can cost millions of dollars.
  • Mobility devices. Mobility devices like wheelchairs aid patients with spinal cord injuries in regaining independence. The type of mobility device needed varies, but most power chairs are expensive, with some costing upwards of $30,000. Features such as individualized seats, all-terrain wheels, and battery life contribute to the final price. This expense will recur as wheelchairs wear out and people will need to replace them throughout their lifetimes.
  • Vehicle modifications. One of the best steps toward regaining independence is a modified or accessible vehicle. This can involve the addition of hand controls to existing vehicles or new vehicles with full accessibility. For people with spinal cord injuries, navigating a mobility device into a vehicle and then operating the vehicle usually requires more than hand controls. New vehicles designed for use by drivers with spinal cord injuries often cost in excess of $80,000.

California Personal Injury Attorneys

Drunk driving continues to plague our nation’s highways and back roads, resulting in thousands of catastrophic injuries every year. A spinal cord injury changes a victim’s life forever. But victims can still lead fulfilling lives, as the experienced attorneys at Greene, Broillet, & Wheeler, LLP, know well. We have helped many drunk driving accident victims go on to lead successful lives by seeking and recovering compensation for their injuries.

If you or someone you love has suffered a spinal cord injury due to a drunk driver, call (310) 576-1200 or contact us online. The time to take action is now. Our attorneys offer free consultations and case evaluations. We’re proud to be ranked California’s number one personal injury firm by Best Lawyers in America. Indeed, other attorneys often refer their most difficult drunk driving injury cases to us, which we take as a sign of respect and a testament to our track record of success. Begin your journey back to dignity and independence by contacting our office today.

Olivia Culbreath’s arraignment postponed due to her injuries

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

The first scheduled arraignment of DUI suspect Olivia Culbreath was postponed because she was still hospitalized.

The San Bernardino Sun reports that 21-year-old Culbreath remains hospitalized at USC Medical Center, which is why she did not make her Pomona hearing.

Culbreath faces multiple murder charges for allegedly causing a wrong-way car accident on February 9, on the 60 Freeway in Diamond Bar. That accident killed six people, including her sister, Maya Culbreath.

Authorities say that Culbreath was intoxicated and driving more than 100 mph when she hit a 1998 Ford Explorer which then hit a Ford Freestyle.

The 57-year-old driver of the Freestyle was Joel Cortez, the only surviving victim of the crash. He recently gave an interview to KTLA in which he recalled seeing the Ford Explorer in front of him “jump into the air.”

“I heard people talking … ‘Oh my God, there are bodies all over the place,'” Cortez told reporters.

Cortez only suffered minor injuries in the crash.


Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP handles car accident cases across Southern California. If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash, call us at 310-576-1200 or contact us online.

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