A spinal injury can have a devastating effect on your life, leaving you in both physical and psychological pain which can put you out of action for weeks, months or even years, while in more severe cases, you could be left with a permanent disability.

Jane Couch, a Partner in the Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence department at WBW Solicitors in Newton Abbot, outlines common causes and effects of spinal injuries and explains your rights if you suffer such an injury which was not your fault.

Injuries to the spinal cord can happen in any number of ways. In a clinical negligence setting, trauma can be caused by surgical errors or because of delays in diagnosis of conditions such as spinal cord compression. Such injuries can also be suffered in everyday life, with sporting mishaps, falls from height and road traffic accidents all being common causes of spinal injuries.

The effects of a spinal injury can also vary widely, with damage to the spinal column likely to leave you in pain and incapacitated to such an extent that you cannot work until you recover, while damage to the spinal cord can lead to permanent total paralysis below the level of the injury if the cord is completely severed.

As well as loss of sensation and movement, common side effects of spinal injuries can include problems with breathing, blood pressure, bowels and bladder, loss of fertility and an impairment of sexual functions.

Proving who is responsible for a spinal injury

To be able to make a claim for compensation, you need to able to show that the individual/body responsible for your injuries was negligent. This involves proving that they owed you a duty of care, that they breached this duty and that you suffered harm as a result.

If you were involved in a road traffic accident, negligence would be found if the person responsible had failed to act in the way a ‘reasonable man’ would in the same situation or if they failed to follow the highway code.  If you were injured at work, were regulations breached, did the employer breach their duty of care to their employee? If your injury was caused by a medical professional, negligence would be found if the person responsible failed to act in a way considered acceptable by a responsible body of medical professionals.  In each case we would consider how the injury occurred and whether anyone was responsible.

How a solicitor can help

You should seek expert legal advice as soon as possible after your spinal injury. Once a specialist personal injury lawyer has confirmed you have a valid claim, they can help you gather the evidence you need to support  your case while events are still fresh in the minds of all involved. They will also refer you to a medical expert who will assess how your injury was caused and the effect it has had on your life.

Your solicitor will work hard to negotiate you an out-of-court settlement to cater for your needs or guide you through the process if your case has to go to court.

The compensation you receive for your injury claim will depend on the severity of your injury and your prognosis, but could include damages for:

  • pain and suffering;
  • loss of earnings;
  • care costs;
  • additional medical treatment and/or rehabilitation;
  • out-of-pocket expenses; and
  • adaptations required to your home or vehicle.

For further information, please contact Jane Couch in the Personal Injury team on 01626 202413 or email janecouch@wbw.co.uk.  WBW Solicitors has nine offices across the South West in Newton Abbot, Bovey Tracey, Torquay, Paignton, Exeter, Launceston, Exmouth, Sidmouth and Honiton.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.