The spinal cord is a delicate thread that connects the narrative of our bodies from the brain to the buttocks, enabling movement, sensation, and vital functions. However, when this bundle of nerves is disrupted, the consequences can be profound and life-altering. As such, a spinal cord injury (SCI), whether traumatic or non-traumatic, can impact every aspect of your life, so it is crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible after an accident to assess and treat the injury as it may not always be immediately obvious. 

This blog will look closely at potential causes and different types of spinal cord injuries, along with possible compensation available for spinal cord injuries. From the initial diagnosis to the daily triumphs and tribulations, this blog will focus on the impact of spinal cord injuries resulting from incidents such as car accidents or slip and falls. 

What is a Spinal Cord Injury?

Spinal Cord Injury Ontario defines spinal cord injuries as “damage to the spinal cord at any part of it, or the nerves at the end of the spinal canal.” A spinal cord injury may “permanently affect many physiological areas, such as sensations, strength, motor ability and other functions.”

A spinal cord injury occurs when trauma or disease disrupts the normal functioning of the spinal cord, leading to a myriad of challenges that extend beyond the physical realm. The repercussions are not merely confined to the loss of motor function; they echo through every aspect of an individual’s life, reshaping relationships, career paths, and the very essence of daily living.

Spinal cord injuries, along with other back injuries, may result in various circumstances. However, they are commonly caused by motor vehicle accidents, slip/trip and falls, assaults, alcohol-related accidents, and recreational activities, including sports.

Signs of a Spinal Cord Injury

A spinal cord injury, or other back and neck injury, may not be obvious at first. However, it may present itself through one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty with balance;
  • Loww of bladder or bowel control;
  • Complete or partial loss of movement;
  • Pain or stinging sensation;
  • Extreme reflexes or spasms;
  • Pressure or pain in the neck or head; and
  • Loss of sensation to touch and temperature.  

If you believe you have suffered a spinal cord injury, have experienced trauma to your head or neck, or are experiencing any of the above-listed symptoms, it is imperative to seek medical attention as soon as possible. If a spinal cord injury goes undiagnosed or treated, it may result in a more severe injury.

Understanding Spinal Cord Injuries

A spinal cord injury may either be complete or incomplete. If a spinal cord injury is complete, it can cause complete paralysis in the body. However, if it is incomplete, a small stream of nerve impulses may still get through the damaged spinal cord and may only cause partial paralysis. In many cases, an individual with an incomplete spinal cord injury may experience more functioning on one side of their body compared to the other. 

The location of the spinal cord injury will be determinative of what parts of your body may be impacted by paralysis. For example, a spinal cord injury in the cervical or upper area of the spine will likely impact your arms, torso, legs and pelvic area, whereas an injury in the thoracic or lumbar area will not likely affect your arms. 

Compensation for Lasting Impacts of a Spinal Cord Injury 

If you have sustained a spinal cord injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, for example, in a car accident or slip and fall, you may be entitled to financial compensation to help you care for and treat your injury, now and into the future. 

General damages (non-pecuniary damages)

A claim for general damages can help compensate you for the pain and suffering you have experienced as a result of your spinal cord injury. General damages are intended to compensate for losses that cannot be quantified monetarily, such as loss of enjoyment of life, emotional and physical impacts, disability or functional limitations, and a reduction in your quality of life. The general cap for general damages in Canada in 2023 is approximately $420,000.

Future cost of care

Due to the long-term and life-altering effects a spinal cord injury can cause, you may be entitled to receive compensation to help cover future costs of care. Depending on the nature of the injury and the corresponding limitations it causes, you may require an extensive team of medical specialists and life care planners to help you ensure your future medical needs are met. As such, a claim for future cost of care can provide financial assistance to help with payment for:

  • Mobility aids;  
  • Home and vehicle modifications; 
  • Personal assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, and getting in or out of bed; and 
  • Ongoing care and treatment for physical rehabilitation and psychological impacts of the injury. 

Loss of Income and Reduced Earning Capacity

If your spinal cord injury has impacted your ability to return to your pre-accident job or obtain work, you may also be entitled to recover compensation for past and future income loss, as well as reduced earning capacity, depending on the circumstances of your case. 

A spinal cord injury can have an immediate and devastating impact on your life, regardless of how it happens. Due to the extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation required, coupled with adjusting to new functional limitations, a spinal cord injury can not only result in physical pain, but it can often have an emotional impact on those who have suffered the injury, as well as their loved ones. At Tierney Stauffer LLP, we take your rights seriously, and our trusted team of personal injury lawyers help those who have been injured recover the compensation they deserve to help them move forward after an accident. To speak with a member of our team about your claim, contact us by phone at 1-888-799-8057 or contact us online.


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