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HomeNews & ArticlesA Guide to Spinal Cord Injury; What You Need to Know
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A Guide to Spinal Cord Injury; What You Need to Know

July 24, 2015  |  By:  Brian M. Cameron

The spinal cord is a very complex part of your nervous system that performs many functions including carrying messages between your brain and different parts of your body. The messages tell your body to move or to bring messages of feeling and sensation, such as hot and cold. The spinal cord also sends the bodies’ autonomic nervous system messages which include involuntary activities such as blood pressure, body temperature and sweating.

The spinal cord can be compared to hydro lines. Hydro lines connect the main hydro station to many individual houses. The spinal cord is the hydro line, your brain in the main hydro station. Your spinal cord is the path that messages use to travel between the brain and other parts of the body.

Any damage to the spinal cord is a very complex injury. Each injury is different, and injuries can affect the body in many different ways. While commonly associated with motor vehicle collisions, spinal cord injuries can also be caused by ATV accidents, falls, diving accidents, and many other types of trauma.

There are two main types of traumatic spinal cord injuries resulting in permanent impairment:
1) Quadriplegic also known as tetraplegia is paralysis causing the partial or complete loss of the use of the limbs and torso.

2) Paraplegia is paralysis causing the partial or complete loss of the use of the legs and torso. The arms are not typically impacted by paraplegia.

Paraplegia and quadriplegia can be categorized as being complete or incomplete. A complete spinal cord injury means that there is no sensation or motor function below the area of injury.

By comparison, an incomplete spinal cord injury means that there may be sensation below the area of injury. For example, in the case of an incomplete paraplegic, they may feel some sensation in one of their legs. Despite this feeling, they are unable to use that leg in any meaningful way.

Below are the most common questions associated with spinal cord injury. The personal injury lawyers at Oatley Vigmond work with a wide range of experts to help get the much needed treatment and support required with spinal cord injuries. To have your questions answered or to receive a free consultation call us toll free at 1-888-662-2481.

Q: What can I do to ensure I have the best personal injury lawyer for my spinal cord injury case?
A: It is very important to validate a lawyer’s experience with spinal cord injury cases before deciding on a personal injury lawyer. Spinal cord injury cases can be complex and time-consuming, not to mention costly.

Meet with two to three lawyers, and ask about their knowledge of experts, and experience in and out of the courtroom. Call their references. Ensure your lawyer has the experience taking these types of cases to trial and they understand the specific medical and rehabilitation needs associated with a spinal cord injury.

Q: How do I validate a lawyer’s experience with spinal cord injury cases?
A: All personal injury lawyers are not created equal. The term personal injury covers a vast range of injuries from mild to severe. Not every personal injury lawyer will know how to treat a spinal cord injury case to receive the most optimal end result. Reviewing credentials and asking the right questions can help ensure you have a lawyer with the right experience for your unique case.

Q: What questions should I ask to determine if my lawyer has the right experience for my case?
A: There are three important questions you should ask:

1. Is my lawyer a specialist in my class of injury?
An accredited personal injury lawyer should be designated as a certified specialist in civil litigation. This designation is granted by the Law Society of Upper Canada; the only body that governs Ontario’s lawyers. A lawyer with this designation is proven to be an expert in their field and an experienced trial lawyer.

2. Is my lawyer recognized by other lawyers as an expert in personal injury?
To find out, browse the peer reviewed lists published by Lexpert and Best Lawyers, two recognized legal expert authorities in Canada, to ensure your lawyer is on the list.

3. Is my lawyer associated with one of the top 10 personal injury law firms in Canada?
Canadian Lawyer magazine publishes an annual list containing the top personal injury law firms in Canada. Reviewing the most up to date list is the best way to find out which firms are classified as the leading firms in personal injury.

Q: What can I expect from my personal injury lawyer?
A: It is your lawyer’s role to be your advocate and help you navigate the complex and confusing insurance process. Your lawyer will make the process as simple for you as possible, from taking care of all of the insurance paperwork to arranging home modifications to ensure you have a smooth transition from hospital to home.

Q: Will my lawyer fully comprehend the complex medical issues associated with my spinal cord injury?
A: Yes. Understanding the short- and long-term impact of an injury is a prerequisite for a personal injury lawyer so they are capable of engaging the services of the right health care experts for your spinal cord injury rehabilitation.

Q: How do I determine this?
A: Ask your lawyer what kinds of experts might be needed. A lawyer who specializes in spinal cord injury will understand the depth and scope of experts required for your spinal cord injury such as health care professionals, financial experts, and even engineers. Ask them injury-specific questions. For example, how will my injury affect my income earning capacity, mobility, and support needs? A lawyer who has the knowledge and experience with spinal cord injury cases will be able to answer your questions and identify the best medical and rehabilitation specialists for you, so you can enjoy the fullest recovery possible and recover maximum compensation.

Q: Is there any chance of a quick settlement in a personal injury case where someone has a spinal cord injury?
A: No. There are several important steps that a lawyer must take to properly present a claim for a serious and permanent injury. Settling a case quickly increases the risk of settling for too little money. For the seriously injured, the financial outcome of the case will drastically affect the way they live their life.

If a lawyer tries to persuade an individual with a spinal cord injury into a quick settlement, they are lacking the expertise in this field and are doing that injured person a serious injustice.

Q: How long should I expect my case to last before reaching a settlement?
It’s important to allow time for your injuries to stabilize so that your lawyer can ensure they fully understand the extent of your impairments and ensure there will be enough funds to pay for care for as long as needed. Realistically, it will take three to four years before this type of case can be fairly resolved.

Q: How much do these types of cases cost?
A: Cases involving catastrophic injuries, such as spinal cord, can cost upwards of $100,000 to $250,000 or more – to pay for records, demonstrative evidence, and various types of experts to assess the client, write reports and give evidence.

If the firm is invested in this specialty of law and are committed to the best possible outcome, they will not ask for a retainer and will cover the costs for the client until the case is resolved.

Harm or injury to the spinal cord is very serious. Each injury is distinct, complex, and comes with many unique challenges. The personal injury lawyers at Oatley Vigmond are dedicated to ensuring you receive the most compensation possible to cover the costs of the road ahead. To have your questions answered or to receive a free consultation call us toll free at 1-888-662-2481.


About the Author

Brian M. Cameron

Brian Cameron completed his LLB at Western University and was called to the bar in 2001. He joined Oatley Vigmond in 1999 and became a partner in 2008. Brian represents people who have sustained...

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