Spinal injury claim
If you or a member of your family have suffered a back or spinal injury, it can be devastatingly life-changing. The injury can increase healthcare costs, require new home adaptions, and possibly cause the inability to work.
What is spinal injury?
Fractures to one or more vertebrae or an injury to the spinal cord can lead to permanent disability and chronic pain. Victims of traumatic spinal injuries also face long-term complex care needs.
Spinal injuries: causes and effects
Many types of accidents can lead to spinal injuries, including:
- Road accidents: Road traffic accidents are the most common cause of spinal injuries. There is always a possibility of spinal injuries resulting from accidents involving cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians, especially if the victim did not wear a seatbelt or helmet while in the vehicle. Read More
- Slip and falls: Falls are a common cause of spinal injuries, particularly among older adults. Falls can occur in many different settings, including the workplace, home, and public places.
- Accidents in the workplace: Spinal injuries can occur in a variety of workplace settings, including construction sites, factories, and offices. Workers who lift heavy objects or work at heights are particularly at risk of spinal injury. Read More
- Sports and recreation: Sports and recreational activities, such as football, rugby, skiing, and horse riding, can all lead to spinal injuries. These injuries are prevalent among young people and athletes. Read More
Effects of a spinal injury
Spinal injuries can be devastating and long-lasting. Common effects of spinal injury include:
- Chronic pain: Spinal injuries can cause chronic pain, which can be challenging to manage and may require long-term medication or therapy.
- Paralysis: Depending on the severity of the spinal injury, a victim may experience partial or complete paralysis of their body, affecting their ability to walk, use their arms and hands, and even breathe.
- Loss of sensation: Spinal injuries can cause loss of sense in the affected areas, leading to difficulties with coordination and balance.
- Emotional distress: The emotional impact of a spinal injury can be significant, leading to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
- Financial costs: Spinal injuries can result in significant medical expenses, including hospitalization, surgery, rehabilitation, and ongoing care. Victims may also be unable to work or earn a living, resulting in lost income and financial stress.
How can we help?
The highly experienced team at Coleman Legal LLP will discuss your case with you and advise whether you may have a potential spinal injury claim against another party. If you have a potential spinal injury claim, we will, on your instructions:
- Instruct technical experts as necessary to thoroughly investigate your case.
- Obtain your medical records.
- Prepare and submit an application to the Injuries Board on your behalf.
- Prepare and issue court proceedings if the case is not resolved through the Injuries Board.
- Manage your case through the litigation process, supporting you throughout.
Types of spinal injuries
Spinal injuries can be described as complete or incomplete.
1. Complete spinal injury
Complete spinal cord injuries are rare, but they are more serious. A Complete injury results in total Paralysis below the primary level of the injury. Complete spinal cord injuries fall into four categories:
1.1 Cervical vertebrae (7)
C1 – C7 Spinal Injury Head, hands, shoulder, arms, neck, and diaphragm.
1.2 Thoracic vertebrae(12)
T1 – T12 Spinal Injury Chest muscles, abdomen, and muscles in the back.
1.3 Lumbar vertebrae (5)
L1 – L5 Spinal Injury Hip, thigh, feet, and knee muscles.
1.4 Sacrum (5)
S1 – S5 Spinal Injury Bladder and bowel.
2. Incomplete spinal injury
More than 60% of all spinal cord injuries are incomplete. Medical experts are trained to respond appropriately to this damage to avoid further complications. Incomplete spinal injuries are classified into three categories:
- Anterior Cord Syndrome
- Central Cord Syndrome
- Brown-Sequard Syndrome
There are several reasons for Spinal Injuries. These include:
- Falling from a height
- Violent assaults or stabbings
- Road traffic accidents
- Negligent spinal surgery
- Sporting accidents
- Failure or delay in diagnosing Cauda Equina Syndrome
- Electrical accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
Do I have grounds for a spinal injury claim?
There are several grounds on which a Spinal Injury claim can be made
- You were owed a duty of care by another party (for example, as a road-user, employee, patient, or visitor to a premises)
- That duty of care was breached, i.e., through negligence
- You have suffered an injury as a result of that breach of duty/ negligence
1. Contact our spinal injury solicitor
Our team of experienced spinal injury solicitors in Ireland is here to assist you with your claim. We understand that spinal injury claims can be complex, and our solicitors will work with you every step of the way to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
2. The PIAB application
The first step in making a spinal injury claim in Ireland is to make an application to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB). PIAB handles claims related to workplace injuries, road traffic accidents, serious injuries, and accidents in public places.
3. Submitting information and documents to PIAB
Your solicitor will gather all the necessary evidence, including medical reports and expert reports, and submit them to PIAB on your behalf.
4. Consent to assess the claim
Once the application is submitted, PIAB will send a formal notification of the claim to the defendant(s). The defendant(s) have 90 days to indicate whether or not they consent to the assessment of the claim. If the defendant consents, PIAB will proceed with the assessment. If they decline, an Authorisation will be granted to allow the claimant to bring court proceedings.
5. Claim assessment time
If PIAB is assessing the claim, it usually takes around 9 months for them to issue their assessment. This assessment reflects the general and special damages awarded in respect of your claim. If both parties accept the assessment, PIAB will issue an Order to Pay, which must be discharged by the defendant(s) within 10 days. A settlement cheque will then be issued to the claimant.
If either party rejects the assessment, an Authorisation will be granted by PIAB to bring court proceedings. Our expert solicitors will then work with you to ensure that your case is heard in court and that you receive the compensation you deserve.
How much compensation you receive for a personal injury claim is dictated by two legally binding documents known as:
The “Book of Quantum” and
The recently published Personal Injuries Guidelines by the Judicial Council of Ireland.
The Book of Quantum dictates how much compensation you are owed if your Authorisation was received from PIAB prior to the 21st of April 2021. In all other cases, compensation in respect of general damages is assessed with the aid of the Judicial council’s Personal Injuries Guidelines.
The Book of Quantum sets out general guidelines as to the amounts that may be awarded or assessed in Personal Injury Claims. The guidelines are divided into sections depending on what category of injury was suffered, e.g., head injuries, neck injuries, back injuries and spinal fractures, upper limb injuries, lower limb injuries, and body and internal organs. The Book of Quantum sets out 4 steps to assess what compensation is appropriate for the suffered injury. These steps are as follows:
- Identify the category of injury
- Assess the severity of the injury (through medical reports and records)
- Research the value range
- Consider the effect of multiple injuries
The Personal Injuries Guidelines were adopted by The Judicial Council on the 6th of March 2021. Similar to the Book of Quantum, this legal document sets out guidelines for assessing compensation in respect of general damages. The general principles for this assessment centre on three criteria:
- Awards of damages must be fair and reasonable to both the claimant and the defendant(s)
- Awards must be proportionate to the injuries sustained
- Awards must be compared on a scale of injuries that are both of a lesser and greater magnitude
One of the most substantial differences brought about by this update is that the average level of damages awarded has been reduced. The new guidelines have, however, provided more detail and more explanation for claimants, which is overall a welcomed change to the process of making a personal injury claim.
Statute of Limitations
Generally, the time limit to bring legal proceedings for a spinal injury claim is two years from the date you first become aware you were injured due to an accident/negligent act done to you. There are, however, exceptions to the application for a spinal injury claim. If someone is under 18, the two-year period does not commence until their 18th birthday.
Also, in cases where a person does not know, they have been injured at first, and they have taken all steps to find out if they are injured, then the two-year period may not begin until they have established that they are injured in some way.
SII is the only support and service agency for people who have sustained spinal cord injuries and their families. They provide a nationwide person-centered service to assist people in engaging fully in society following their injury.
If you have been involved in an accident or suffered an injury at the hands of another person, we would advise all persons to contact our personal injury claim solicitors at the earliest available opportunity.
We represent clients in a variety of personal injury claims; road traffic accidents, workplace injury, serious injury, medical negligence, and public liability claims. Please take some time to browse our website to learn more about the services we offer as a personal injury solicitors practice in Dublin.
If you want to take legal action over a personal injury, you should consult our injury solicitors, who are members of the Law Society’s injury accreditation scheme and clinical negligence accreditation scheme. Contacted us at:
Coleman Legal LLP
84 Talbot Street, Dublin 1
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