The spinal cord plays a central role in general functionality, and an injury to this area presents considerable risk to both day-to-day sense of normality and future health.
If you have sustained a spinal injury, there are legal systems in place to help mitigate financial losses that have arisen due to your injury, as well as to provide long-term financial provisions where applicable. Read on to learn more about the process of spinal cord injury claims and how much compensation you may be entitled to.
The spine is complex — an injury to the upper spine can produce significantly different consequences compared to that of the mid and lower regions. Spinal injuries are rarely bound solely to the spine, but rather can affect the movement and sensory reception of one or more areas of the body.
The spine is split into four areas: The cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral regions.
The cervical spine is split into the high cervical nerves (C1-C4) and the low cervical nerves (C5-C8). An injury to the high cervical nerves commonly affects the arms, torso and legs, among other regions, while low cervical nerve impairment may more specifically impact arm and hand mobility.
The thoracic region (T1-T5) may impair lower body mobility and an injury to the lumbar region (L1-L5) most commonly affects the hips and legs. Sacral region (S1-S5) injuries commonly affect the pelvis region, impacting the person’s bowel and bladder control, sexual function and lower extremity function, among other factors.
Across cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral injuries, impairments are categorised in one of two ways: Either complete or incomplete. A complete spinal cord injury refers to the loss of all sensory and motor functions below the injured area. On the other hand, an incomplete spinal cord injury refers to the retention of partial functionality below the injured area.
A complete spinal cord injury is generally diagnosed as either paraplegia or tetraplegia:
A prerequisite of a successful spinal injury claim is a diagnosis in one of the above categories, with the diagnosis playing a key role in determining how much compensation you’re entitled to.
The nature of your claim will depend on whether your injury is violence or negligence-induced. A personal injury lawyer will be able to guide you on the specifics of your case. If your spinal injury came as a result of another’s negligence, your case then falls under the legal umbrella of ‘personal injury claims.’
Personal injury claims as generally categorised in the following four ways:
The context in which your injury occurred will determine the legislation that applies to your case. Legal proceedings for violence-induced spinal injuries differ from personal injury claims in that they generally involve criminal charges, proceed through different courts and pertain to separate legislation, among other factors. Reach out to a solicitor to determine the legal avenues that may apply to your circumstance.
While process logistics differ slightly depending on the state you live in, you are generally required to file your personal injury claim within six months of the injury — the sooner you’re able to make the claim, the better. If you’re past the six-month period, still reach out to a personal injury lawyer who will be able to give you personalised insights and advise you on your legal options.
If possible, it’s best that you acquire as much evidence as possible prior to reaching out to a lawyer. However, with that said, there will likely be pieces of evidence that are difficult to obtain on your own which your lawyer will assist you in gathering.
A reason why certain pieces of evidence may be difficult to gather is because of the financial implications; GMP Law, through our no-win, no-fee policy, take on all the upfront costs associated with your case at no expense to yourself — we only get paid based on the agreed upon portion of your compensation in the instance of a successful outcome. If your case isn’t successful, we bite the bullet of the upfront costs, not you.
The evidence that is generally required for a spinal personal injury claim to be successful includes:
You’ll also be required to provide evidence of the degree of financial impairment you’ve sustained as a result of the injury. This refers to both the costs of treatments, as well as the impact on future earning potential. Each piece of evidence is used to help determine the degree to which you’ve been impaired financially and psychologically, with both monetary and psychological damages being considered in your compensation claim.
Once you’ve gathered the evidence that you’re able to obtain, reach out to a personal injury lawyer who will guide you through the process.
Your case will likely progress to a private settlement or mediation wherein a neutral third party will assess the merits of your claim and make compensation decisions accordingly. Mediation is a cost and time-effective route in comparison to litigation and is commonly also thought of to be less strenuous. Litigation is the process of bringing your case before the court where a judge ultimately decides the case’s outcome.
Litigation can be drawn out compared to mediation: Court proceedings may take years to conclude, while mediation and private settlement agreements may resolve in a matter of months. Mediation is commonly a prerequisite for litigation, and most cases settle prior to being brought to the court.
You may be compensated for one or both of the following categories:
While the way that financial losses are calculated tends to be relatively consistent across states due to financial impairments being easily quantifiable, the eligibility for non-financial losses — and the calculations thereof — differ by state. As a general rule: The more severe the injury, the more compensation you’re entitled to. This pertains both to the severity of financial loss, as well as the severity of impact on your quality of life.
Given that spinal injuries differ significantly in severity and stem from a range of different contexts, compensation payouts also widely vary — your personal injury lawyer can offer you tailored insights based on your injury.
As experts in personal injury law, GMP Law can work with you to ensure that you’re maximally compensated. Our solicitors have the resources and experience necessary to not only provide an optimal case outcome but also to make sure that the process is as seamless for you as possible.
We’re available to answer any questions you may have. Reach out to our team today for a free consultation, or call us on 1800 004 878.
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