Spinal Cord Injuries and Your Legal Rights

Spinal Cord Injuries and Your Legal Rights

Spinal cord injuries are catastrophic personal injuries. Should you hire a lawyer?

Our spinal cords connect our body to our brain through a column of nerves, controlling our movements. When we sustain spinal cord injuries, the damages can be catastrophic. Depending on the injury’s place and severity, symptoms range from difficulty breathing to complete paralysis or loss of movement. They can happen as an accident or as a result of someone else’s negligence. Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit and receive compensation.

Common causes

According to a Canadian study, car accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries. Other common causes include:

  • Falls
  • Acts of violence (gunshot and stab wounds)
  • Sports/physical activity
  • Medical and surgical procedures/malpractices, typically involving the neck and back
  • Intoxication
  • Disease

The risk of sustaining spinal cord injuries doesn’t necessarily increase with age; individuals between the ages of 16 and 30 are the most vulnerable—however, the severity of injuries from falls increases in those older than 65. Additionally, men make up the majority of traumatic spinal cord injuries.

Spinal cord injuries caused by negligence

Like most personal injury lawsuits, a plaintiff will seek legal action when an injury results from negligence. For the plaintiff to claim negligence, they must prove that the defendant’s actions (or lack thereof) caused the damage. If you suffered a spinal cord injury in a car accident where the defendant ran a stop sign and hit you, that would be an example of negligence. Negligence can also apply to medical treatments and procedures when a physician fails to meet or breaches the standards of care, resulting in an injury or death – known as medical malpractice.

Spinal cord injuries caused by defective products

In some instances, spinal cord injuries are due to a faulty or defective product. If a product malfunction’s or doesn’t work correctly (i.e., if an airbag doesn’t deploy in a car accident) and causes injury, the plaintiff could hold the company liable for damages. However, suppose a company can prove that a product was intentionally misused or mishandled. In that case, they may be able to avoid legal repercussions.

Do you need a lawyer?

In Ontario, OHIP typically covers many medical costs associated with spinal cord injuries; however, not all. You may choose to seek compensation to cover expenses or loss of income due to negligence, issues with your insurance company, or any other legal matter. Be that the case, then hiring a lawyer is advisable. Personal injury lawyers and those who specialize in spinal cord injuries will be the most helpful to you. They are familiar with the medical and legal complexities unique to lawsuits involving catastrophic or severe impairments and injuries.

To reduce your risk of sustaining a spinal cord injury, avoid high-risk activities and behaviours. Wear proper safety gear, follow rules and guidelines (e.g., no diving zones), drive safely, and take precautions when playing sports – all important steps towards accident prevention.