Spinal cord injuries are devastating and sometimes permanently disabling injuries. If you sustain a spinal cord injury in or near the Halifax area because another person was negligent, arrange to speak at once about your right to compensation with a Halifax personal injury lawyer.
How do spinal cord injuries happen? How do doctors describe and classify the different types of spinal cord injuries? What are your legal rights and options if another person is responsible for your spinal cord injury? What steps should you take after an injury to the spinal cord?
If you’ll continue reading this brief introduction to spinal cord injuries, liability, and the law, those questions will be answered, and you will learn how to exercise your rights and recover the monetary compensation that an injured victim of negligence needs and is entitled to by the law.
Spinal Cord Injuries: The Basics
What is the definition of a spinal cord injury? An injury to the spinal cord may be defined as the result of a sudden blow or jolt to the spine that compresses, fractures, dislocates, or crushes one or more vertebrae, ligaments, spinal discs, or the spinal cord itself.
Spinal cord injuries are a leading cause of permanent disability in both adults and children in Canada. Spinal cord injuries often prevent a victim from being able to work. A spinal cord injury may require medical care and treatment that could total several million dollars over a lifetime.
Injury victims may not always immediately realize that they have suffered damage to the spinal cord. It may take days or in some cases weeks to notice the advance of any swelling, inflammation, bleeding, and/or fluid accumulation in and around the spinal cord.
After any accident, obtain a medical exam immediately – at least within the first 24 hours – even if you feel perfectly healthy. A latent or hard-to-find spinal cord injury needs to be detected as early as possible. A delayed treatment may be a less effective treatment.
How Do Spinal Cord Injuries Happen?
In Canada, the leading causes of injuries to the spinal cord are:
- Vehicle accidents: Auto, motorcycle, and truck crashes are the number one cause of injuries to the spinal cord, accounting for more than one in three spinal cord injuries each year.
- Slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accidents: For Canadians who are 65 and over, slip-and-fall or trip-and fall accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries. Overall, falls are involved in about one in four reported spinal cord injuries.
- Violence: Gun and knife-related violence are the cause of roughly fifteen percent of the spinal cord injuries reported in Canada.
- Abuse of alcohol: The abuse of alcohol is an element in approximately one-quarter of reported spinal cord injuries – including the spinal cord injuries sustained in traffic collisions and incidents of violence.
- Sports accidents: Approximately nine percent of reported spinal cord injuries are sustained by athletes in training or competition.
How Are Injuries to the Spinal Cord Described and Categorized?
Injuries to the spinal cord are either “incomplete” or “complete.” A complete spinal cord injury happens if the cord is severed, fractured, or compressed. With a complete spinal cord injury, a victim loses all sensation and movement in any part of the body below the injury location.
An injury to the spinal cord is incomplete if the cord is partially fractured or compressed. A victim will retain some degree of sensation and movement in those parts of the body below the injury location.
Injuries to the spinal cord are also categorized on the basis of location. Every injury to the spinal cord is unique, but as a rule of thumb, the higher injuries tend to be the more serious injuries. For injury classification purposes, the spinal cord can be thought of as having five regions:
- the cervical spine (the seven vertebrae of the neck)
- the thoracic spine: (the twelve vertebrae of the mid-back)
- the lumbar spine: (the five vertebrae of the lower back)
- the sacrum
- the coccyx
After a Spinal Cord Injury, What May a Victim Expect?
After an injury to the spinal cord, inflammation and swelling can exacerbate the damage. A bulging disc is typically a sign of cervical radiculopathy, pain caused by nerve root compression. Cervical radiculopathy may cause chronic pain and a loss of sensation in several body parts.
Spinal cord injury victims may experience tetraplegia (complete or partial loss of movement and sensation in all four limbs); paraplegia (complete or partial loss of movement and sensation in the legs); or triplegia (complete or partial loss of movement and sensation in one arm and both legs).
Spinal cord injury victims may also experience conditions and complications that include breathing difficulties; circulatory issues; blood clots; loss of bowel and bladder control; muscle spasms; sleeping difficulties; and depression.
What Are Your Rights as an Injured Victim of Negligence?
The results of an injury to the spinal cord can be tragic and permanent. If you sustained a spinal cord injury because another person – a distracted driver, a property owner, or even a business – was irresponsible and negligent, speak with a Halifax spinal cord injury lawyer immediately.
An injured victim of negligence in Nova Scotia is entitled by the law to recover full compensation for medical treatment, lost wages, and other accident-and-injury-related expenses when someone else’s negligence was the cause of the accident and injury.
However, being “entitled” to compensation does not mean that compensation simply appears in your mailbox or bank account. You will have to prove that you are entitled to compensation, which means you will have to prove that you were injured because the other party was negligent.
What Will a Personal Injury Lawyer Do on Your Behalf?
You will need the advice and services of the right Halifax personal injury lawyer – a lawyer who will handle the legal paperwork, the insurance company, and the other side’s lawyer on your behalf.
Most spinal cord injury claims are settled in private negotiations, but if no reasonable settlement offer is forthcoming, or if your claim is disputed, your lawyer can take your claim to court.
The other side may dispute the amount you need for surgeries, therapy, prescriptions, and other necessary medical treatment, but the right Halifax spinal cord injury lawyer will use every necessary legal tool to help you obtain every dollar of compensation you are entitled to by law.