Making a compensation claim for a spinal injury is a difficult and complex time for you and your family. Here, Thompsons answers some of our clients' frequently asked questions to help everybody understand the claims process and provide information about the system.
What is a spinal injury?
A spinal injury is any injury which involves damage to the spinal cord and/or the vertebrae. Such injuries often result in impaired function of limbs.
Sustaining a spinal injury can have life-altering consequences, often leading to paralysis and requiring the claimant to go through a long period of rehabilitation as they must readjust to living with their injury and its debilitating effects.
The exact effects of the injury will depend on its location along the spinal cord. The severity of spinal injuries vary greatly and they are usually classified as either complete or incomplete. An incomplete spinal injury means that some motor or sensory function below the injury is retained, while a complete injury means there is no function below the injury.
Is there a time limit on making a spinal injury claim?
Spinal injury claims have the same statutory time limit as all other personal injury claims, which is three years from either the date of the incident or the date that claimant became aware of the injuries resulting from the accident. If the victim has lost mental capacity, then the three years will not start until they regain capacity or are discharged from any mental health services.
Different rules apply to children, as they are not able to make a claim themselves until they reach adulthood. Regardless of the age they were when the accident happened, the three year time limit will not begin until they reach 16. However, a litigation friend can make a claim on their behalf before they reach 16.
If the claimant dies while in the process of making a claim, then the three years restarts from their date of death, allowing their loved ones to continue with the claim on their behalf.
Can claims be made on a No Win No Fee basis?
Yes. The expert team at Thompsons comprises some of the best personal injury solicitors in the country. We are confident that we can achieve justice for you and your family, and our confidence is reflected in our No Win No Fee package. If we do not win your case, you won't have anything to pay.
How much compensation will I receive?
There is no single answer to this question since all cases are different and the amount of damages awarded will be based on the extent of the injuries suffered and the effect it will have on their future life.
The key factor that will affect the court's decision is the extent of your injury and how much it has impacted your life in terms of pain and suffering. This is referred to as solatium or general damages. This includes the loss of the physical and mental capacity to do things you could do before the accident, which is called loss of amenity.
The total award will also include other sums for your financial losses. These are known as special damages or patrimonial loss. For instance, as a result of the accident you may be out of pocket due to a loss of income, high treatment costs, care expenses, and expensive equipment.
In the event of the victim's death, anyone who was financially dependent on them, such as their children or surviving spouse, can claim for loss of support.
With severe spinal cord injuries that have led to paralysis, the amount awarded for solatium will probably be in the range of £73,700 to £130,130. The award for a more moderate injury can amount to considerably less, but it will depend on the level of disability the injury has caused and how the future of the victim will be affected.
Who will pay the cost of my compensation?
A claim for spinal injuries suffered as a result of a workplace incident will typically be covered by the employer's liability insurance. Employers' liability insurance is a legal requirement for any business that has one of more members of staff.
If the injury was suffered in a road accident, then the motor insurer of the liable party will be required to pay any damages awarded. If the motorist responsible does not have insurance, the claim will be covered by the Motor Insurers' Bureau.
If your accident happened in a public place, then any compensation awarded will be settled through the owner's public liability insurance.
How much will I have to pay to fund my claim?
We have various funding options available to our clients. We have developed a No Win No Fee package which means when you make a claim with Thompsons you do not have to worry about fees and charges. If your claim is successful, then a portion of your compensation will be used to cover legal fees. But if your claim is unsuccessful, you won't pay a penny. We will discuss the details of this with you from the outset of your claim.
Will the case go to court?
The vast majority of personal injury cases reach a settlement before having to go to a final court hearing. It is usually in the interest of all parties to settle the claim without litigation. However, because the effects of a spinal injury can be very serious and the compensation sums awarded may be significant, it's more likely that the case will go to court than lower value cases.
Thompsons solicitors will be at your side throughout the process, helping you to understand and cope with the whole procedure. But even if your case does go to court, there is no need to worry about incurring high legal fees when you make a claim with Thompsons. Our No Win No Fee Solicitors package will help ensure your protection against all legal costs and financial risks.
Can I arrange a home visit with my solicitor?
We understand that due to your injury, you may not be able to make the journey to one of our Scotland offices. In this case, we are happy to arrange a home visit with you.
How can I prove liability?
To give your case the best chance of succeeding, we will need to gather as much information as possible to support your claim.
If possible you should provide the following:
- The date of the accident
- Where the accident happened
- The contact details of any witnesses for statements
- The details of your injuries and medical records
- Any evidence that could support your claim, such as workplace health and safety documentation or photographic evidence taken at the scene of the accident
If your injury was due to unsafe work conditions, then a health and safety investigation may well be carried out to establish whether your employer is negligent. In this case, an HSE prosecution may also follow.
What if I was partially liable for the accident?
You may be worried that you are partially responsible for the accident and this will affect your chances of receiving compensation. For instance, you may not have followed every one of your workplace's health and safety guidelines, such as wearing the required safety equipment at all times, and this contributed to the extent of your injury. While this may affect the amount of compensation you're entitled to, you should not let this prevent you from making a claim – it is still likely that the majority of the blame lies with the other party.
There is a difficult legal test that the other party must meet before they can fairly place part of the blame on you. They must prove that your actions amounted to negligence and not just a slip in attention. If they are able to do this, then it will be up to the courts to decide your percentage of liability. Your award will then be split in accordance with this percentage.
So, if it is determined that the accident was 50 per cent your fault, then you will receive half of the total damages you would otherwise be entitled to.
Is it possible to seek early interim payments for urgent priorities?
Because of the serious nature of most spinal injuries, it is often the case that the claimant will require compensation as soon as possible after the incident so that they can start the rehabilitation process. Waiting until the case is settled, which can take a number of years, is simply not possible for the victim and their family. Whenever appropriate, Thompsons can help you receive an interim award that can pay for essential care and equipment while a final settlement is still being calculated. Our solicitors will help make sure you receive a fair interim award that will cover all the necessary expenses.
We want to ensure that our clients get the best possible treatment available so that it is easier for them to adjust to their injuries. Treatments for spinal injuries are available on the NHS, but these are limited and may not meet all the needs of the victim.
For instance, if you've suffered paralysis, then you'll probably need a wheelchair. The NHS will be able to provide one free of charge, but it will not be a sophisticated model. For a better model, that will give you more mobility, you will be required to pay some or all of the cost yourself.
Receiving a fair interim payment will mean you'll be able to choose a suitable wheelchair quickly and therefore get on the best road to recovery as soon as possible. This is why we believe receiving interim payments is essential in spinal injury cases.
How do I take the first step towards making my claim?
With Thompsons Solicitors making a spinal injury compensation claim is as straightforward as it can be at this difficult time. Call us today to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We will be able to give support, advice, and guidance throughout the process.
Can I claim even if I live outside of Scotland?
Yes. Many of our claimants live in other areas of the UK as well as abroad in locations such as France, South Africa and Australia. If you lived or worked in Scotland before you moved away, you can bring a claim for compensation in the usual way.
How do I start a spinal injury claim with Thompsons Scotland?
You contact a personal injury solicitor on 0800 0891 331 or by texting CLAIM to 60155. Alternatively, you could fill in a contact form so that we can call you back at a time to suit you – click on the Claim Online button at the top of this page.
Thompsons is one of the largest and most successful personal injury law firms in Scotland so you can rest assured that your case will be in good hands.