Toronto Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer - Compensation
Our Toronto personal injury lawyers deal with spinal cord injury compensation claims arising in Ontario. From your very first contact you will speak to an expert spine injury lawyer. You will be given advice at no cost on how best to pursue your compensation claim and what actions you should take to preserve your legal rights. Our Toronto spinal cord injury lawyers deal with personal injury compensation claim settlements using a contingency fee arrangement. If you don't succeed in receiving a settlement then your lawyer won't get paid. If you would like legal advice on spine injury compensation claims in Ontario from a Toronto personal injury lawyer just call the helpline or complete the contact form or email our Toronto offices. A Toronto spine injury lawyer will telephone to discuss your claim with no further obligation.
Spinal Cord - Catastrophic Injury
A spinal cord injury is a catastrophic injury that can also involve brain trauma. When the accident occurs, the spinal cord can hyperextend in any direction or the vertebral column can fracture, damaging portions of the delicate spinal cord. There can be hematomas or blood clots that put excess pressure on the spinal cord and bony fragments can push on parts of the spinal cord that are delicate and control nerve function to the lower body.
The trauma of spinal cord injury can be a catastrophic event altering the lives of both victims and their families forever. People who suffer spinal cord injuries not only have to deal with the psychological aspects of this devastating injury, but also usually face substantial economic hardship. Medical expenses and the future expenses for rehabilitation, rehabilitative services, motorized wheelchairs and specially adapted cars can be substantial. Most families simply don't have the resources to cover all the expenses and provide for the spine injury victim over his or her lifetime. That's where we come in to help you claim the compensation they deserve. Our spinal injury lawyer specialists have detailed experience in handling complex injury claims and significant trial experience to see your case through from start to finish.
Spinal Cord Injury Categories
Spinal cord injuries come in four major categories. The spinal cord can be severed in an injury, resulting in permanent distal paralysis. There can be compression of the cord by pressure from surrounding bones, such as the vertebrae. The cord can be lacerated, in which only part of the cord is injured. The end result is a complicated pattern of paralysis that depends on the level of the injury and the length of the laceration. Some people sustain contusions or hematomas to their cord. This is basically bruising of the cord and can result in increased pressure in the spinal canal. Compression injuries have perhaps the best chance of recovery than any other spinal cord injury.
A spinal cord injury can occur under a variety of traumatic circumstances. It can involve a fracture to the lumbar, thoracic or cervical vertebra that then lacerates, stretches or tears the spinal cord itself. The end result is usually permanent damage to the spinal cord and paralysis of the body distal to the injured area.
The following are incidences that lend themselves to spinal cord injuries: assault by another person, falls, industrial accidents, gunshot wounds, motor vehicle injuries and sports injuries, especially diving injuries or football injuries.
In some cases, patients can sustain a spinal cord injury from weaknesses to the bones in osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Each can gradually pinch off the spinal cord, resulting in loss of function.
Direct injury can happen to the spinal cord when it becomes damaged by shards from a broken vertebra, for example, or from pieces of metal in an artillery attack or gunshot wound. Pieces broken off from a motor vehicle accident can penetrate the spinal cord area and can cause a puncture wound and swelling or damage to the spinal cord. If the neck or back are twisted too hard, such as in a chiropractic manipulation or a sporting accident, it can damage the spinal cord. A blood clot can damage the spinal cord or fluid can build up, damaging the cord.
As for the epidemiology of spinal cord injuries, most victims are men between the ages of 15-35 who were previously completely healthy. Risk factors for spinal injury include participating in risky behaviors, not wearing protective gear in playtime activities or work activities, and diving into shallow water. The other people at risk for spinal cord injuries are the elderly with weakened spines, people with a history of a stroke or men with prostate cancer.
The obvious symptoms of spinal cord injury depend on the site of the injury. Injuries of the cervical spine tend to be more severe in terms of mobility and function than injuries of the thoracic and lumbar spine. The symptoms also depend on whether the entire spinal cord was transected or whether only a portion of the spinal cord was damaged. An incomplete injury to the cord can give a variety of signs and symptoms.
Injuries at the level of the first lumbar vertebra and below may cause cauda equina syndrome, which is injury to the nerve roots that exit the lumbar spine. Injuries to any of the thoracic vertebrae often cause paraplegia, while injuries to the cervical vertebra cause quadriplegia or loss of function of the arms and legs both. High injuries to the cervical vertebra can involve difficulty breathing on one’s own.
Overall symptoms include spastic or increased muscle tone, loss of sensation to affected areas, pins and needles to some areas, loss of bowel and bladder control, which can include incontinence, constipation or bladder spasms, painful areas of the body, and paralysis of the affected area.
Specifically, cervical spine injuries damage the spinal cord in the area of the neck, yielding paralysis of the arms, the trunk and the legs. It may affect one side of the body more than the other. If the breathing muscles are paralyzed, the patient needs to be on a respirator indefinitely.
Thoracic or chest level injuries affect the trunk below the level of the injury and the legs. The person usually has completely normal function of the arms but not the legs. High thoracic lesions can affect the blood pressure maintenance, can cause abnormal sweating and can cause a difficulty maintaining the body temperature. Cervical injuries can cause this, too.
Lumbar injuries can affect one or both legs and can affect the mechanisms that control the bladder and bowel function.
When an Injury Occurs
When a suspected cervical or thoracic spine injury has occurred, the patient must be immobilized so as to avoid further injury. The person is then taken fully immobilized to the emergency room where x-rays and CT scans of the spine are done to see what the spinal cord looks like. Other testing includes a CT myelogram, which uses dye to further outline the spine and magnetic stimulation or somato-sensory evoked potential testing can be done to see if the nerves are functioning or not.
Treatment goes from being emergency treatment of the acutely injured patient to rehabilitation. In the acute stages, fixation devices can be used to keep the cervical spine in place while the bones heal. Emergency surgery can be done to remove bony fragments causing pressure on the spinal cord. Corticosteroids are given in high doses (methylprednisolone or dexamethasone) to reduce any swelling of the tissue and spinal cord in order to save as much of the spinal cord as possible. Corticosteroids are done as soon as an injury becomes apparent.
Surgery can remove fluid or a blood clot on the affected area or to decompress part of the tissue around the spinal cord. Fragments of disk or bone fragments (or foreign objects) can be removed in a well placed surgery. Some vertebrae may need to be fused together to make them more stable. Spinal braces can be supplied in surgery to make up for vertebrae that have no stability or have torn ligaments.
Traction to the spinal cord can help. It keeps the spine from moving around and damaging the spinal cord further. Spinal traction may need to go on for a long time. Muscle spasms are treated with muscle relaxants and the nursing staff helps keep the skin intact and manages the bowel and bladder function for the patient. Pressure sores can be managed by careful moving of the patient on a frequent basis.
Then therapy is done with a physical and occupational therapist. The patient will have to learn how to do things as independently as possible and this can take months of intensive therapy. Parts of the body that still work will need to be strengthened to make up for the lost parts of the body.
A catastrophic injury lawyer is a specialist advocate with expertise in serious personal injury compensation claims including paralysis and spinal cord injury. Our Ontario personal injury lawyers offer a wealth of experience relating to catastrophic impairment and give free advice on spinal cord injury, with no further obligation, on liability and the potential value of a catastrophic injury compensation claim. Payment for services is based on a contingency fee basis which means that our lawyers only get paid when you get paid. If the case is lost there is nothing whatsoever to pay. If you have suffered from a spinal cord injury including paraplegia or quadriplegia caused by a negligent third party you should contact a lawyer without delay.
Paraplegia and Quadriplegia
Cervical spine injuries which may lead to paralysis including paraplegia and quadriplegia most often occur in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, diving accidents and falls from height. Because the cervical spine is very mobile and vulnerable, it is prone to serious injury, including hematomas, transections and partial transections of the spinal cord. The treatment of cervical spine injuries, including rehabilitation and long term care is exceedingly expensive, especially if this is drawn out over the entire life of the individual. If you have sustained a cervical spine injury, you should contact a specialist personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
In the beginning, the patient is in critical condition and the swelling is allowed to go down. The spine is stabilized through surgery so no further damage happens to the cord. The patient’s overall health is stabilized and they begin the progress of physical and occupational therapy. Not all spinal injuries result in total paralysis and therapy can teach the patient to better use the parts of the body that have not been affected. They are taught how to use specific aid devices and are strengthened to the degree that they can be strengthened. Occupational therapy teaches the patient to do things in life using different techniques to give them the most independence.
Crushing & Transection
Spinal cord injuries can affect the cervical spine, the thoracic spine or the lumbar spine. Most spinal cord injuries involve crushing of the spinal cord or involve transection of the cord. These result in loss of function below the level of the injury. This means that cervical spinal cord injuries are the worst. Disability can result from a crushing injury in a car accident or a transection injury in a car accident. When the cord is transected, it cannot be replaced and it will remain transected. Crushed cord might retrieve itself over time.
Spinal cord injuries can be of the cervical spine, in which there is generally paralysis of both the arms and legs. The injury can be to the thoracic area, which leads to lower extremity injuries. In less common cases, the lumbar spine can be injured, leading to some loss of function in the lower leg and the possibility of bowel and bladder problems.