A spinal cord injury can have an enormous impact on your ability to work. The physical effects can be devastating. Even if your injury is relatively minor, you may still find yourself missing work and incurring additional expenses during recovery. A total of 300 to 400 new transport-related spinal injury cases are reported each year. Currently, there are around 12,000 people with an existing injury in Australia.
What is a Spinal Cord Injury?
Spinal cord injuries can happen many different ways. The term refers to pressure applied anywhere along the spinal cord and/or where oxygen and blood supply is disrupted. Depending on the damage done to nerve fibres, the injury may be complete or incomplete. There are four common categories that most spinal cord injuries fall under:
- 38% are incomplete quadriplegia
- 27% are incomplete paraplegia
- 20% are complete paraplegia
- 15% are complete quadriplegia
An injury to the spine can have effects throughout the body. Some victims find that they lose function and/or sensation in their limbs.
Common Causes of Spinal Injuries
There are many ways you could wind up with a spinal injury, however some are far more common than others. 8% fall under the “other” category which includes sporting activities. Approximately 9% happen as a result of water accidents. Another 9% occur due to being hit by an object. 28% are caused by falls and an enormous 46% are caused by vehicle related accidents.
Some spinal injuries are brought on by a medical condition. These are considered non-traumatic and make up approximately 20% of new cases. The condition maybe a symptom of degenerative spinal conditions, vascular disorders, cancerous lesions, or genetic disorders.
84% of all traumatic spinal injury patients are male while 16% are female. The 15 to 24 year old and 65 to 74 year old age groups are at the highest risk.
Spinal Cord Injury Claims
What can you do if you are involved in an accident that results in a spinal cord injury? You may be eligible to receive compensation. The cause of the injury and where it happened will determine who is responsible to pay your claim. If the injury happened while in a car accident, then the Motor Accident Insurance Act 1994 would apply. If you were hurt while on the job, then the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 may apply.
In order to have your claim approved and paid, negligence must be proven. Once that happens, the amount paid will be based on the severity of the injury and how it has impacted your life. If you lose significant function, then you may receive a higher payout to cover the additional hardship and expenses.
Other factors are also considered when determining compensation amounts. The insurer will look at how independent you are after the injury, if you need care and assistance and whether or not you will be able to return to work. Amounts paid for treatment and rehabilitation will also be added in along with estimates for future medical expenses incurred because of the injury.