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How to Claim Compensation for a Spinal Injury
Suffering a spinal injury
Suffering a spinal injury can have a huge impact on your quality of life and put an end to your career. The most common causes of serious spinal injuries are road traffic accidents or accidents at work. If someone else’s negligence was the direct cause of your accident, then we can help you get the financial support you need.
Spinal injury statistics
The website Spinal Research offers some chilling insights into the statistics around spinal injuries. Every year in the United Kingdom and Ireland over a thousand people suffer an injury to their spinal cord with the vast majority of those affected being young adults. At present, there are no effective treatments, therefore no ‘cure’ for spinal cord injuries, and this means that currently there are 50,000 people in the UK who have to live with paralysis.
The effects of serious spinal injuries
If you do suffer an injury to your spine, the effects can be genuinely devastating. Those effects can differ from case to case and will often depend upon where exactly the spine was injured – more specifically how high up or low down. Generally speaking, the higher up the body the spinal cord has been injured, the more widespread the effects will be, and these include, most notably, paralysis in multiple limbs. The Spinal Injuries Association provides a list of the other most common effects of such a personal injury, and they make plain that it will be completely life-changing:
- Bladder and bowel function – both are lost in the immediate aftermath of the injury and may be able to be retaught later in the treatment.
- Phantom pain in the paralysed limbs.
- Low blood pressure. On top of low blood pressure, people with a damaged spinal cord may also suffer sudden potentially lethal attacks of high blood pressure.
- Problems controlling body temperature.
- Involuntary muscle spasms.
Clearly, as well as having a devastating effect upon the victims physical capabilities, a spinal injury will leave them feeling very negative about the rest of their life. Figures show that 20% of the people leaving hospital following such an injury become clinically depressed.
The ongoing impact of serious spinal injury has been captured in research carried out by the charity Aspire which uncovered the fact that 20% of the people suffering from spinal injuries will be discharged from a hospital into a care home, no matter how old they are. In the research, carried out in conjunction with Loughborough University, Aspire discovered that the conditions for people with spinal injuries in care homes were such that they contributed hugely to feelings of depression and ongoing medical problems. These problems included:
- Pressure sores
- Broken bones
- Chronic depression
- Suicidal thoughts
Bearing this in mind, it is clear that the ability to claim compensation following a spinal injury caused by negligence can play a huge part in allowing the injured party to fulfil their potential and live as rich a life as possible.
Making a compensation claim for a spinal injury
All of this adds up to a hugely powerful reason for claiming compensation if the spinal injury you’ve suffered was caused by another party’s negligence. The money you receive won’t be calculated to ‘punish’ the negligent party, nor should it be seen as some kind of macabre lottery win. What compensation will do is give someone with these kinds of injuries a fighting chance of putting their life back together.
Coming back from an injury like this is all about courage, yes, and the support of your loved ones, but it also means being able to pay for expert care and state of the art equipment and that’s what a compensation payment will be intended to do.
If the spinal injury occurred while you were at work then your employer may have failed in their duty of care for you. This duty of care is enshrined in law, in the Health and Safety at Work 1974 Act and also in specific regulations related to situations such as working at height, using power tools and working with dangerous substances. If your employer failed to take reasonable steps to ensure that your working environment was safe – steps such as checking and maintaining all equipment, providing safety gear and adequate training and carrying out thorough risk assessments – then they have behaved in a negligent manner and should expect to have to compensate you. Every employer in the UK, by law, has to have at least £5 million in personal liability insurance, so anyone making a claim can rest assured that the money won’t be coming from the pocket of their employer or work colleagues.
If your injury was sustained in a road traffic accident for which another person was responsible then the claim for compensation will be made against this third party, and the same applies if you’re a pedestrian injured by a vehicle. In all cases, the more information you can provide about the accident – including the names and addresses of any witnesses, photographs of the scene, if possible, and the details of a report to the police and any medical attention you receive – the better. The conditions under which a report to the police is mandatory are set out in section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and are as follows:
- If someone has suffered an injury.
- If damage has occurred and the other party has left the scene.
- If the other party has stayed but contact details have not been exchanged.
If your spinal injury occurred during a medical procedure then you may have been the victim of clinical negligence. Although the NHS Constitution enshrines a patients right to seek compensation in the event of negligent treatment, claims of this kind are still amongst the most complex to pursue, and will rely, more than ever, upon the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Spinal injury compensation payouts
The amount of spinal injury compensation you could receive varies widely. The Judicial College regularly publishes a book which outlines guideline compensation amounts for various types of personal injury, and judges use this information to calculate the final payout. The table below shows some of the guideline figures provided by the Judicial College for general damages – these amounts do not include additional compensation for loss of earnings, medical expenses, future living costs, etc.
|Type of injury||Estimated compensation payout|
|Tetraplegia (Quadriplegia)||£284,610 to £354,260|
|Paraplegia||£192,090 to £249,270|
|Severe back injury||£34,000 to £141,150|
|Moderate back injury||£10,970 to £34,000|
|Minor back injury||£1,000 to £10,970|
|Severe neck injury||£39,870 to £130,060|
|Moderate neck injury||£6,920 to £33,750|
|Minor neck injury||£1,000 to £6,920|
Getting in touch with an expert lawyer
If you’ve suffered an injury of this kind it’s vital that you seek the advice of an expert injury solicitor at the earliest possible date. Not only do you have to beat the legal deadline of three years from the date of the accident (or from the date you become aware of your injury), but it’s also true that the sooner you start you case, the sooner your likely to receive the compensation needed to start rebuilding your life. Our lawyers work on a no win no fee basis, meaning you don’t need to worry about costly upfront fees.
Indeed, in many such cases, the court will make an interim pay-out before the final figure is thrashed out, and this could immediately be used to purchase the help and state of the art equipment you need. A final settlement could also include a yearly, index-linked payment going forward into the future, meaning that, no matter how many other problems you have to face and overcome, worrying about money won’t be one of them.