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For your spinal injury claim to be successful and for you to get the maximum possible amount of compensation, as well as professional care and support, you will need specialist legal advice from an expert spinal injury solicitor.
Claiming compensation for your spinal injury, or for a family member who has suffered a spinal injury, is about more than just receiving compensation for your pain and suffering. It is about securing your and your family’s financial security for the long-term; it is about ensuring the professional care you or your family member need can be afforded, now and in the future.
Your spinal injury claim is also about getting you the help you need to overcome the challenges that are presented by having such an injury. This can mean securing compensation to pay for amendments to your home so it better meets your needs, or to provide for moving to a new home altogether. Your spinal injury claim can also provide for any equipment or transportation that may be necessary to assist you or your family member in day to day life.
Your spinal injury solicitor should have a proven track record in successfully settling spinal injury claims for other clients. This will demonstrate to you that they and their legal team have the experience, knowledge and skills that will be necessary to ensure your claim for compensation is successful.
Spinal injury claims are complex due to the severity of these injuries and the impact of these injuries on the life of the directly affected individual and their family. Civil legal claims involving injuries to the spine involve complex medical arguments as well as legal arguments. It is the combination of these complex factors which makes such claims for compensation different from many others and why such claims require a specialist spinal injury solicitor, as opposed to a general personal injury lawyer.
You and your spinal injury solicitor will need to have a strong relationship. Your claim for compensation is unlikely to be settled quickly and the more severe the injuries to your spine and the greater the impact on your life, the higher the compensation amount you are likely to require. This means you and your solicitor are likely to need to work together over many months. It is important that you get on with your solicitor, that you are comfortable talking and meeting with them and that you trust and believe that they and their team have your best interests at heart. It is recommended that when deciding on the solicitor who will represent and advise you, you meet with them in person first, so that you can get a true sense of whether you can work with them.
Your choice of spinal injury solicitor should be independently recognised as having specialist expertise in serious injury and medical negligence claims. Recognition such as that by The Legal 500 – an independent directory of the UK’s top law firms – which ranks Blackwater Law as a ‘leading firm’ in recognition of its lawyers specialist experience. Blackwater Law is ranked by The Legal 500 for both its experience in serious personal injury claims and medical negligence claims.
Your spinal injury solicitor will need to be an excellent negotiator. Proving liability or successfully forcing defendants to accept liability is only part of your claim for spinal injury compensation. The second important aspect is the compensation amount that you receive and even once liability is proven or accepted, compensation values still have to be negotiated. If your serious injury solicitor is not a strong negotiator, they will not be effective in securing you the maximum amount of compensation from the defendant. Settlements in each spinal injury cases vary widely and even be drastically different in two cases which are very similar, simply due to the solicitor representing you and negotiating on your behalf.
Links with medical experts
It is essential that your spinal injury solicitor has links with a wide range of medical experts. In order for you to obtain spinal injury compensation your legal case will need to be supported by medical evidence and medical reports. These will need to be compiled by medical experts that your spinal injury lawyer instructs. These medical experts will review the circumstances of your case, your medical history and provide commentary and opinion on your medical condition, prognosis and treatment to date. In cases of medical negligence these experts will also comment on how you were treated by your negligent doctor, hospital, nurse, surgeon or GP. Your solicitor’s ability to access the best medical experts and use these to produce the strongest and most credible evidence in support of your claim will be critical to the success of your spinal claim.
Blackwater Law has a unique panel of leading medical experts which it has built up over years of dealing with serious injury and medical negligence claims on behalf of clients across England and Wales. These experts have proved crucial in successfully winning large compensation claims for clients. Such is the experience of the team of solicitors at Blackwater Law and the strength of their panel of medical experts, that we can confidently say we will instruct the best and most appropriate medical experts to build the strongest claim on your behalf.
Understanding of your and your family’s needs
Your spinal injury lawyer will need to have an acute understanding of your life before and after the event that lead to the injury to your spine. This is crucial to ensuring your lawyer includes within your injury case compensation to cover factors such as funding any dependent children, paying for professional care (now and in the future), paying for a new home or amendments to your existing home, new transport, new specialist equipment and any other factors you need for you and your family to live beyond your injury.
Blackwater Law personal injury solicitors successfully obtained £3.2million compensation for Mr Irving who suffered serious spinal injuries and was left disabled after falling down stairs.
Blackwater Law represent all clients making a spinal injury claim on a no win, no fee basis. Ultimately, this means that should your claim for compensation be unsuccessful you will not owe any legal fees. If you spinal injury case is successful, our legal fees will be a percentage of the compensation amount that you are awarded. This percentage will be agreed with you from the outset of your claim.
Car accidents – even relatively minor car accidents can lead a driver or passenger to suffer a spinal cord injury as they are either propelled into hard surfaces, violently jolted or crushed.
Motorcycle accidents – Motorcyclists are at far greater risk of catastrophic spinal cord injury in a road traffic accident due to the lack of protection afforded to a driver or passenger when in a motorcycle accident, compared to those travelling in a car.
Diving – diving into shallow water will often mean the individual hitting a hard surface at speed and potentially from a significant height. Tomb-stoning (the activity of jumping off cliffs into the sea) has received much press after it became somewhat of a craze several years ago among young adults and teenagers. There were several high profile cases of individuals suffering life-changing back injuries and neck injuries causing spinal damage.
Criminal attacks – being assaulted during a criminal attack (whether involving a weapon or not) can lead to catastrophic spinal injuries and will likely entitle the victim to criminal injury compensation. In these cases the assailant need not necessarily have been caught by the police in order for a calm for spinal injury compensation to be made by the victim.
Surgical errors – Surgical procedures undertaken in close proximity to the spine provide for a risk of medical negligence and surgical error causing damage to the spinal cord. However, infection can also lead to compression of and damage to the spinal cord.
Sports – Extreme sports, by their very nature, often carry risk of serious injury. However, even regular sporting activities can cause catastrophic injury, for example horse-riding, rugby, BMX and gymnastics.
Falls from height – Falling from an elevated position such as a platform, a balcony, a roof, a window or down a flight of stairs can cause catastrophic damage to the spinal cord of the individual involved. Where such a fall is the result of the poor safety standards of a third party, such as an employer, a spinal injury claim may form part of a claim for an accident at work.
There are two broad categories of spinal injury:
Complete spinal cord injuries – where the cord is severed completely all functionality will be lost. However, advances in medicine and treatment can in some cases provide for some recovery of function.
Incomplete spinal cord injuries – where the cord its only partially severed, providing for the retention of some function, but this will be dependent on the extent of the injury in each case. Incomplete spinal cord injuries are reported to account for a growing proportion of spinal injuries due to better awareness of how to deal with patients with a back or neck injury posing a risk of damage to the spine. Improper handling or treatment of an individual with a partial spinal cord injury could make this worse, causing the cord to severe completely.
Common partial spinal cord injuries include:
Anterior cord syndrome – an injury to the front of the spinal cord causing problems with controlling movement. Some sensation may be retained.
Central cord syndrome – damage to the nerves carrying signals from the brain to the spinal cord causing issues with fine motor skills, paralysis of the arms and impairment in the legs to a lesser degree.
Brown-Sequard syndrome – damage to one side of the spinal cord causing issues in movement and with sensation in one side of the body.
When speaking with doctors and other medical professionals you will often hear reference to the following types of spinal injury.
Tetraplegia or quadriplegia – is where the injured individual is unable to move below part of the spine which is injured, potentially affecting bladder and control as well as movement and sensation in the limbs. Breathing may also be affected due to the diaphragm being controlled by spinal nerves.
Paraplegia – refers to injuries resulting in loss of sensation and control of movement in the lower half of the body and legs. The higher up the spine the injury, the more severe the symptoms the injured individual is likely to present with.
Triplegia – is where sensation and control of movement is lost in one arm and both legs and is often the result of an incomplete spinal cord injury.
Individuals that suffer an injury to the spine are likely to present with a number of the below symptoms at different stages:
Doctors, as well as paramedics at the scene of an emergency, will assess the location of an injury and particularly where there is injury to the back, neck or head, be careful so as not to cause potential further damage to the spine. The above list of symptoms will also be used to identify the extent to which an injury to the spinal cord may be likely.
Whilst in the most severe cases it will be clear there is an injury to the spinal cord, in incomplete or partial spinal injuries this may not be the case and there is the risk of a doctor or nurse misdiagnosing symptoms as being associated with another less serious condition or injury. Such a misdiagnosis can be critical as the spine may be in a fragile state. If the individual is unaware of this fragility and their vulnerability they may not behave in such a way so as to avoid them causing their injury to worsen.
Through a challenging period, the legal support, advice and guidance provided to me by Blackwater Law has been excellent. My medical negligence solicitors always had my best interests at heart and kept fighting on my behalf until the very end of my case. The compensation Blackwater Law secured for me provides financial security and safe-guards crucial long-term care and support.