Doctor showing patient a skeleton’s spine

​How the Nervous System Can be Affected by a Spinal Cord Injury

The spinal cord is perhaps the most fundamental component of the body’s CNS (central nervous system). The spinal cord runs from roughly your waist all the way up to your brain. Brain signals run the length of your spinal cord in order to allow other body parts to function. A damaged spinal cord can interrupt or thwart these signals, causing difficulties in other parts of the body.


There are many symptoms and side effects associated with even minor damage to the spinal cord, even where the injury does not involve paralysis. Symptoms of a spinal cord injury include difficulty with the functioning of your limbs, sexual function, bladder function, and even the ability to breathe properly and effectively. 


Frequent Causes of Spinal Cord Injury

Accidents such as motor vehicle accidents and slip and falls can lead to an unfortunate spinal injury. More than 35 percent of spinal cord injuries in the U.S. are caused by motor vehicle accidents, according to the Mayo Clinic, with a substantial number also attributable to falling incidents, particularly in the more elderly population. In Canada, 42 percent of spinal cord injuries are caused by trauma (i.e., injuries from motor vehicle accidents, falls, violence/assault, or other external causes, including negligent treatment by healthcare professionals). 


How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help?

If you have incurred a spinal cord injury from a motor vehicle accident, slip and fall, or other accident, it is worth speaking to a personal injury lawyer for advice on whether it is possible to get your costs immediately covered and if you can seek compensation from an at-fault party for your injuries.

In the case of a car accident injury, you will have basic accident benefits protection from your insurer. If you are not fully at fault, you may also be able to seek compensation from the at-fault driver by way of a lawsuit in negligence. Drivers are covered by insurance policies that will pay out on behalf of the driver where the driver’s liability is proven, and where the injured victim can prove the losses that resulted.

Similarly, in the case of a slip and fall on a residential or commercial property, it may be possible to show that your injuries were caused by the property owner’s failure to adequately maintain their property in a safe condition. In these cases, home insurance or commercial liability insurance will be available to cover your losses.

Insurers will typically try to downplay your losses, or argue that expenses incurred were unnecessary. A good plaintiff-side personal injury lawyer will raise all arguments to substantiate the legitimacy of your expenses and losses, and help maximize your settlement.

Your lawyer will advise you in many ways about your case. Your lawyer will also emphasize the importance of seeing the appropriate medical professionals, following their treatment advice, and documenting medical and other expenses you incur in relation to your injuries.

In many situations, your lawyer will be able to help you settle your case at an early stage. In other cases, where either liability or the amount of your losses is in dispute, litigation may be required.


Alberta Cases Involving Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal injuries can cause complications for ongoing periods of time, and sometimes permanently. Extensive physiotherapy and treatment is often required to maximize chances for recovery. You can rest assured that the costs of such treatments are recoverable where a negligent party is responsible for your injuries.

In Sorochan v. Bouchier, 2014 ABQB 37 (CanLII), the 65-year old plaintiff was stopped at a red light when a large truck rear-ended her vehicle. As a result, she began to develop neck pain, lower back pain, and headaches. An MRI confirmed that the plaintiff was afflicted by spinal stenosis. The plaintiff required cortisone injections to control her pain and ultimately needed spinal surgery in her lumbar spine in order to control the issues she was experiencing.

At trial, the plaintiff was awarded $75,000 in general damages (i.e., for pain and suffering), and was awarded $10,000 for future housekeeping expenses as she was unable to perform household duties entirely independently.

In Meehan v. Holt, 2010 ABQB 287 (CanLII), the plaintiff passenger was injured in a minor car accident where the defendant driver had entered into an intersection controlled by a stop sign without taking adequate precautions to ensure that the intersection was clear. The vehicle that the plaintiff was in was forced to come to a very sudden stop before striking the other vehicle. The plaintiff’s body was jarred in the process, resulting in a number of injuries, including mid and lower back pain and a mild form of degenerative disc disease, according to her family physician.

The plaintiff was awarded $90,000 in general damages, over $60,000 for costs of care (both leading up to trial, and for future care cost), and $40,000 for loss of income arising from her injuries. The plaintiff was unable to work for some time and required extensive physiotherapy, acupuncture, and assistance with housekeeping duties.


When Should You See a Personal Injury Lawyer?

It is advisable to see a personal injury lawyer at an early stage following your accident as he or she will be able to advise you on the steps you should take to ensure that your losses are recoverable. It is especially wise to see a lawyer who has experience dealing with victims of accidents with complex injuries, including spinal cord injuries. 


Contact Braithwaite Boyle, Alberta Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers in Calgary, Edmonton & Red Deer

If you have been in an accident and are concerned that you have injured your spine, our lawyers in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer are available for a free consultation. Our lawyers are experienced with victims of spinal injuries and can walk you through the best steps to take in anticipation of bringing an action against a negligent party. Call us for legal services at 1-800-661-4902.

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