Spinal Cord Injuries and Personal Injury Cases

Spinal Cord Injuries and Personal Injury Cases

Spinal Cord Injuries


Injuries to the spinal cord can be devastating. In Canada, more than 86,000 people live with spinal cord injuries, and each year 4,300 new spinal cord injuries occur. If you or a family member has recently suffered a spinal cord injury, life as you know it may have changed drastically. But research into these types of injuries is progressing rapidly, and almost every day there are advances made in the field. In addition, there are many resources that can help your family cope with adjusting to living with a spinal cord injury, and, if the injury occurred due to an accident, you may be eligible to receive financial compensation.


What is an SCI?


A spinal cord injury, or SCI, occurs when something damages the spinal cord, resulting in paralysis. The cause could be a disease such as cancer, arthritis, or spina bifida, or it could be trauma, such as a fall, a sports injury, or a motor vehicle accident.


The spinal cord begins at the base of the brain and extends down the back inside the spinal column, and finally as a bundle of free nerves known as the cauda equine. It is made up of millions of nerve fibres that carry impulses from the brain to the rest of the body. These nerves allow us to feel, breathe, move, and talk. Whenever nerves of the spinal cord or the cauda equine are damaged, there is a loss of function and sensation.


Depending on where the damage is, it may cause paraplegia (partial or total loss of use of the lower half of the body involving both legs) or quadriplegia (partial or total loss of use of all the limbs and torso). Paraplegia occurs when the damage to the spine is located on the thoracic (chest) or lumbar (lower back) regions. Quadriplegia occurs when there is damage to the brain or cervical spine (neck). These conditions may be classified as “complete” or “incomplete” depending on whether or not there is a total absence of function and sensation. Both paraplegics and quadriplegics may lose control of bowel and bladder control and sexual function, and quadriplegics may also experience impairment of the breathing function. In addition, people with spinal cord injuries may have to live with chronic pain, circulatory problems, pressure injuries, and susceptibility to respiratory problems.


While many researchers believe that there will be a cure for spinal cord injuries, the science has just recently begun to prove that spinal cord repair and regeneration is possible. However, in the past decade there have been many improvements in rehabilitation medicine, which can make the lives of SCI patients easier and more comfortable. A high percentage of people living with an SCI lead productive lives that can include higher education, marriage and children, wheelchair sports, and rewarding careers.


Personal Injury Claims


The most common causes of spinal cord injuries are:


  • Motor Vehicle Accidents. Roughly half of all new spinal cord injuries each year occur due to auto and motorcycle accidents.
  • Falls. In patients over 65, a fall is the most common cause of a spinal cord injury.
  • Sports and Recreation Incidents. Contact sports and activities like diving account for about 10% of SCIs.
  • Violence. Gunshot and knife wounds can cause spinal cord trauma.
  • Disease. Any disease that impacts the spine can lead to a spinal cord injury.


Top risk factors for spinal cord injuries include alcohol use and engaging in risky behaviour such as reckless driving, playing sports without protective gear, or diving into unknown waters. Most spinal injuries happen to men (about 80%, in North America). And most happen to young men between the ages of 16 and 30.


If you or a loved one has sustained a spinal cord injury due to an accident, you should speak to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, you may be able to make a claim for compensation. An SCI can be considered a catastrophic injury and damages paid to victims suffering from spinal cord injuries are among the highest in Canada.


Personal injury lawyers do not normally require you to pay them upfront; instead you will usually sign an agreement that will give your law firm a percentage of any money you receive in a settlement or court case.  This is called a “contingency fee” and is standard in this type of case. In addition, most law firms offer a free initial consultation. This means that you can explain the circumstances of the injury to a lawyer who will advise you about your options without having to pay legal fees.


A good personal injury lawyer can be a great support to your family during a difficult time. Go to your consultation prepared, with copies of important documents such as a police report, eyewitness accounts, and medical records. Take a list of any questions you may have about the lawyer’s experience, the process, or the financial arrangements.


If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury due to someone else’s negligence, get the compensation you deserve; speak with a personal injury law firm today.