Spinal Injury Claims
If you have suffered a spinal cord injury at work, at home or involving a motor vehicle following an accident that wasn't your fault, you could be entitled to a significant amount of compensation. JMW Solicitors has the experience needed to help you get the help you need and deserve.
A serious spinal cord injury may require you to have long-term needs, including comprehensive care, which will be costly. Over the years, we have secured hundreds of millions of pounds worth of spinal cord injury claims for people with all kinds of serious spinal cord injuries and life-changing breaks and fractures.
We understand and work with our charity partners to support you and your family after this catastrophic injury. We will seek specialist rehabilitation and private medical treatment where possible to help you achieve the best medical outcome, and for you to live in suitable accommodation with the right care and support for you and your loved ones. We will help you with work, study or vocational activities, and to live the most fulfilled life long-term.
Speak to our professional spinal cord injury solicitors about your injuries and how we can help ease the financial blow of dealing with life after an accident. Call us now on 0345 872 6666, or fill in our online contact form and we will be in touch.
What Our Clients Say
How JMW Can Help
A large proportion of our clients seeking compensation for spinal cord injuries are doing so for incidents caused by the negligence of another individual. We often deal with spinal cord injuries such as crushed vertebrae, dislocation injuries, fractures and breaks, compression injuries and damage to the spinal cord however caused. Common causes of these injuries include:
- Workplace accidents
- Slips, trips and falls
- Road accidents to a pedestrian, cyclist, passenger or driver caused by someone else
Our legal professionals strike the balance between compassion and professionalism. Our team is always focused on securing as high a compensation payout as possible for your benefit, but our solicitors will always focus on you as an individual and your family and how best we can support you throughout rehabilitation. If you require urgent care and are struggling to cover the costs, we will seek interim compensation payments for you so you can cover these costs and get the help you need while your spinal injury claim is ongoing. We understand the stress that you may be going through and will aim to make the process as simple as possible.
A solicitor experienced in spinal injury claims can provide valuable guidance and support throughout the legal process. They can:
- Understand the effect of the injury on you and your life and help support you through your rehabilitation as well as the legal claim
- Assess your case and advise on the process, prospects of success and potential value
- Collect and organise evidence to support your claim
- Liaise with medical experts to obtain reports on the nature and extent of your injuries and long-term needs like housing, care, equipment and therapies
- Negotiate with the responsible party or their insurers to achieve a fair settlement
- Represent you in court if necessary, to ensure the best possible outcome for your case
- Put you in contact with appropriate charities, professionals and case manager to support your journey post-injury
As well as compensation for spinal cord injuries themselves, we can ensure that other financial expenses that you have incurred as a result of your injury are included as part of your claim. These expenses can include (but are not limited to):
- Medical costs - private rehabilitation and surgery costs
- Adaptations to houses, accessible transport and specialist aids and equipment
- Loss of earnings due to being unable to return to work for you and your family members
- Paid care and the support that you need
In most instances, all of the above can be funded by interim payments of spinal injury compensation as the case is going on.
The Spine and You
The spine is one of the most important and complex parts of the body. It provides you with strength and flexibility to ensure your body is kept upright and can move around freely. It is also responsible for protecting your spinal cord, which houses millions of nerves connecting your brain to the rest of your body.
However, your spinal cord can be susceptible to harm through various types of injury. If you have sustained a spinal cord injury, it will most likely impact your ability to move and perform bodily functions, depending on which part of the spine you have damaged.
The pages below will help you understand how the spine works and what happens when you damage certain parts of it:
About Back and Spinal Cord Injuries
The effects of back injuries can range from an inconvenience to a severely debilitating condition, depending on the cause and circumstances.
Spinal cord injuries can be devastating, with a range of effects that can limit your movement and leave you without control of various bodily systems, depending on the area or extent of the injury. Sometimes, the severity of the injury is clear within hours of the accident; other times, the full extent of an injury cannot be assessed immediately post-injury, as short-term spinal shock often means the nervous system is unable to transmit signals, and some of this ability may return once the shock has subsided.
What are the symptoms of a spinal cord injury?
Symptoms of a spinal cord injury can vary depending on the severity and location of the injury. Some common symptoms include:
- Loss of movement or sensation in the arms, legs, or other body parts
- Intense pain or stinging sensation in the spinal area
- Difficulty breathing or coughing
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Changes in sexual function or fertility
- Muscle spasms or exaggerated reflexes
- Paralysis, either partial or complete
Below are some of the most common causes and types of back and spinal cord injury; if you have been affected by any of these, speak to JMW to investigate the possibility of making a spinal cord or back injury compensation claim. You can also learn more by reading our guide to how the spine works.
The Causes of Back and Spinal Cord Injuries
The cause of a back or spinal injury will usually have an effect on its severity:
- The most serious back injuries happen when the body is subjected to high levels of force - for example, as a result of a road traffic accident, an accident at work or a fall from height. In some people who have a vulnerable or weaker spine, less force can still cause a catastrophic injury. Such people are compensated fully as their pre-existing vulnerability is not their fault.
- Moderate cases tend to include instances where there is a compression or crush fracture of the lumbar vertebrae, or when one of the bones in the spine moves out of place. These can be caused by a traumatic blow or lower force impact in a road collision, sporting injury or fall.
- Less serious back injuries, such as strains, sprains and slipped discs, can be caused as a result of unhealthy practice over a prolonged period, such as incorrect body positioning when lifting heavy objects in the workplace.
What are the most common causes of spinal injuries?
Spinal cord injuries occur most commonly due to the following types of accidents:
- Road traffic accidents involving cars, motorcycles, bicycles, or pedestrians
- Accidents at work, such as falls from height or heavy lifting incidents
- Slips, trips, and falls in public places or on private property
- Sports and leisure activities, like rugby, horse riding, or diving accidents
- Medical negligence, which may involve surgical errors, misdiagnosis, or delayed treatment
Regardless of how serious your spinal injury is, if it was caused by the negligence or actions of another party, you should seek to claim compensation by speaking to expert spinal injury solicitors - such as those at JMW Solicitors - as you should not have to suffer because of someone else.
Categories of Spinal Cord Injury
There are many different types of spinal cord injury - they are categorised as either complete or incomplete spinal cord injuries. Injuries are classified by the level at which the spinal cord is damaged and by whether that damage is complete or incomplete.
Level of Injury
Fracture to the Cervical Spine (Upper Spine/Neck Injury)
Vertebrae level C1 to C8
Fractures to the cervical vertebrae - known as C1/2, C2/3, C3/4, C5/6, and C7/8 are high lesions and result in tetraplegia. C1 is the highest level at the very top of the spine, and C8 is the lowest cervical vertebra adjacent to the thoracic spine. C spine injuries affect upper and lower limb movement, mobility, continence and sexual function. They can also affect breathing if it is a high C-level injury, so the injured person requires ventilation to breathe. Most C-level injuries cause tetraplegia.
Vertebrae Level T - thoracic spine (mid back injury) T1 to T12
This part of the spine is less mobile than the neck above or the lumbar spine below. There are 12 thoracic vertebrae. T1/2 are nearest the cervical spine at the top part of the thoracic spine. T11/12 are at the lower end above the lumbar spine. This area of the spine supports the rib cage/chest and upper back. SCIs at the thoracic level, e.g. T5, T6, T7, T8, T9, T10, T11 and T12 result in loss of control below the level of injury, affecting the abdomen and lower limbs, including bowel and bladder continence and sexual function; however, upper limb (hand and arm) use and function are not impaired. Lower-level T spine injuries would usually cause paraplegia.
Vertebrae Level L - lumbar spine (lower back injury) L1 to L5
This is the lower back area of the spine. It is a mobile part of the spine allowing the trunk and legs to mobilise. An SCI at this level can result in impaired ability to move the legs and walk, as well as impaired bowel, bladder and sexual function. Upper body function may still be okay above the level of the injury. These are injuries at levels L1, L2 (nearest the thoracic spine) then L3, L4, and L5 at the base of the lumbar spine adjacent to the sacral spine. Complete L spine injuries cause paraplegia.
Vertebrae Level S – sacral spine (tail bone) S1
This is the very end of the spine (the tail) and it is not a part of the spine that moves much but it contains important nerves that protect the cauda equina. If damaged, this can cause problems with the continence of the bowel or bladder and the ability to sit, walk, run or use lower limbs in a precise fashion can be impaired and painful. These injuries often result in cauda equina syndrome. A condition that can be misunderstood and often missed or misdiagnosed.
Types of Spinal Cord Injury
As well as being categorised as an injury to a particular vertebra (or more than one), e.g. C5/6, T11/12, L1/2 or L5/S1 - most injuries are classified as complete or incomplete.
A complete spinal cord injury is one where there has been a devastating insult to the spinal cord, which is completely damaged. No signals can pass beyond the level of injury down the spinal cord, resulting in total paralysis at the level of injury. No motor or sensory function is preserved in the affected limbs.
An incomplete spinal cord injury indicates that the spinal cord has only been partially damaged, and that it is possible that some motor and sensory functions may remain below the level of the injury.
This is sometimes called AIS A, B, C or D. The letters measure the degree of completeness of injury to the spinal cord. The doctors will test to check how much sensation and movement there is in all four limbs.
AIS A is complete - no neurological sensation or function at all is preserved. AIS D is the most incomplete you can have where there is SCI damage but there is some sensation and some function. If you have a spinal cord injury with incomplete level AIS C or D - you may be able to, with rehabilitation, regain some practical functions. In some cases, this includes learning to walk. The amount that such rehabilitation or improvement is possible is individual and we will work with our clients to ensure they get the best advice and therapy to achieve maximum rehabilitation potential.
The spinal canal and spinal cord can be damaged in different ways. The spinal cord sits inside the bony spine. Where the bones are broken, the cord can be damaged and this is what causes serious neurological consequences.
As well as stating the vertebral level or levels where the spine is damaged, a consultant may alternatively refer to how the spinal cord itself is damaged when describing your injury. This is explained by reference to four parts of the spinal cord leading to different classifications:
- Anterior cord syndrome, where the front of the spinal cord is damaged
- Central cord syndrome, where the central portion of the cord is damaged
- Posterior cord syndrome, where the back of the spinal cord is damaged
- Brown-Sequard syndrome, where one side of the spinal cord is damaged
Spinal cord injury causes impaired function below the site of the injury, i.e. the vertebral level of significant damage. Again, there are several types:
- Tetraplegia, also known as quadriplegia, results in the partial or total loss of use of all four limbs and torso - see reference to C spine or cervical spine above.
- Paraplegia, which results in a partial or total loss of function only in the lower extremities, including the legs - see reference to T thoracic spine and L lumbar spine above
- Hemiplegia, which results in paralysis of one side of the body - this can be at any level
- Cauda equina syndrome, which disrupts motor and sensory functions in the lower extremities and bladder - usually at L lowest lumbar vertebrae 1/2 or S sacral level (see above)
Effects of Spinal Injuries with Neurological Deficit
The potential impact of a spinal injury can include any of the effects below:
- Reduced mobility for paraplegics and tetraplegics complete and incomplete
- Impaired breathing for tetraplegics
- Difficulty with hand function for tetraplegics
- Bladder and bowel problems for any level of spinal cord injury
- Impaired sexual function for any level of spinal cord
- Persistent or recurring pain also known as neuropathic pain
What evidence is needed to support a spinal injury claim?
To support a spinal injury claim, you will need to gather various types of evidence, such as:
- Medical records and reports detailing the extent and impact of your injury
- Witness statements from anyone who saw the accident occur
- Photographs or videos of the accident scene, if available
- Details of any lost earnings or financial losses incurred as a result of the injury
- Proof of any expenses related to your injury, such as medical treatments or adaptations to your home
The expert spinal injury lawyers at JMW Solicitors can help you to identify and gather all the information you will need for your spinal injury compensation claim, including many forms of evidence that you may not have thought of or have access to without the help of a professional solicitor.
How long does it take to settle a spinal injury claim?
The duration of a spinal injury claim can vary depending on the complexity of the case and the willingness of the parties to reach a settlement. Generally, straightforward cases may be resolved within 12-18 months, while more complex cases with disputed liability or severe injuries can take several years to conclude.
How much compensation can I get for a spinal injury claim?
The amount of compensation you may receive for a spinal injury claim depends on the severity of your injury, the impact it has had on your life, and any financial losses you have suffered. In the UK, compensation can include:
- General damages for pain, suffering, and loss of amenity
- Special damages for financial losses, such as lost earnings or medical expenses
- Future care costs and loss of future earnings
- Costs of adaptations to your home or vehicle
Each case is unique, and we will provide a more accurate estimate based on your specific circumstances when you call us.
Are there time limits on making a claim?
In the UK, there is generally a three-year time limit to make a personal injury claim, which starts from the date of the accident or the date you become aware of your injury. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, particularly for minors or individuals lacking mental capacity. It is essential to consult a solicitor as soon as possible to ensure you don't miss the deadline for making a claim.
Why Choose JMW
The stakes for making a spinal cord injury claim are high due to the importance of it to your day-to-day life and the value of the finances you could receive following success. For this reason, you should choose an award-winning law firm with experienced solicitors who you can trust - a law firm like JMW.
Our team includes Cathy Leech who has won awards for legal care from the Spinal Injuries Association, an SIA fundraising award and a Law Society Excellence Award for her work in the field of serious injury for personal injury claims. Cathy Leech leads the Catastrophic Injury team at JMW. The team is compassionate and will make you feel at ease while dealing with the technical aspects of your legal claim.
We have received recognition from The Legal 500 as a top UK law firm due to our successes in line with the Solicitors Regulation Authority's (SRA) regulations. We have helped clients with specific cases such as:
- Spinal injury from an accident at work
- Spinal cord injury car accident claims to both passengers and drivers
- Spinal injury to pedestrians hit and run over
- Spinal injury from motorbike accident claims
- Fractured spine after fall claims
- Spinal cord injury from criminal assault/stabbing (CICA)
- Spinal cord injury from an assault
- Spinal cord injury to a cyclist
- Sporting injuries such as trampolining or horse riding
In the section below, you will find two examples of how JMW has helped our clients to receive large payouts of compensation that they were able to put towards seeking care.
Read more about our accreditations here.