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Published: 07 September 2017
Author: John Cramp

How the law can help in cases of Spinal Cord Injury

This week is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week which is designed to raise awareness of the daily lives of people who have a Spinal Cord Injury.

As personal injury lawyers, we are very aware of the risks associated with driving and the road trauma and injuries that occur on our roads. As part of this journey, we also work with clients who have suffered both minor and major spinal cord injuries.

The brutal statistics around Spinal Cord Injury

According to the Spinal Cord Injury Network:

  • More than 10,000 people in Australia have a Spinal Cord Injury.
  • The lifetime cost per incidence of paraplegia is estimated to be $5 million.
  • The lifetime cost per incidence of quadriplegia is estimated to be $9.5 million.
  • Of reported traumatic Spinal Cord Injury, 84% are male and 16% female.
  • Spinal cord injuries were most frequent in 15-24 year olds (accounting for 30%)
  • An increase is also seen in the 65-74 year age group sustaining a Spinal Cord Injury.
  • Approximately 21% of newly reported Spinal Cord Injury cases are non-traumatic. This group consists of medical conditions such as vascular disorders, degenerative spinal conditions, genetic disorders and cancerous lesions.

Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries in Australia

The Spinal Cord Injury Network reports that approximately 80 per cent of newly reported Spinal Cord Injury cases are due to traumatic injury.

  • 46% are related to motor vehicle accidents. Of transport related incidents, 51% were motor vehicle occupants and 49% were unprotected road users, predominantly motorcyclists (79%). The vast majority of unprotected road users were male (92%), and they tended to be younger with over half (56%) in the 15-34 years of age group.
  • 28% related to falls. Of all falls related incidents 64% were from a height of one metre or more, 41% of low falls (same level or less than one metre) involved people aged 65 years or over, compared to only 13% of falls greater than one metre involving this age group.
  • 9% resulted from being hit or struck by an object. Where a Spinal Cord Injury incident happened when working for an income, of these 44% related to transport incidents, 23% as a result of falls over one metre and 23% reported as being struck or colliding with a person or object.
  • 9% were water-related. The activity being undertaken at the time of Spinal Cord Injury was documented in half of the Spinal Cord Injury cases. Leisure activities accounted for 35% of these with just over half being attributed to diving, surfing, swimming or jumping into bodies of water.
  • 8% were from other activities and leisure activities. This includes major football codes, pedal cycle race and horse-related activities.

The power of ‘I can’

This year’s theme of Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week is "I can" and it challenges perceptions of what it means to have a spinal cord injury. A montage of stories serve as a powerful display of what is possible after a Spinal Cord Injury.

How the law can help

The health, social and economic impact of a Spinal Cord Injury are significant, both for the patients and for loved ones and carers. Socio-economic factors known to be important in relation to injury and rehabilitation are marital status, employment status and educational level attained at the time of onset of the Spinal Cord Injury.

It is vital to have a trusted lawyer as part of the support team, as navigating the legal complexities of claims and compensation requires experience and knowledge. This is especially important when looking at the medical and lifestyle expenses incurred due to a Spinal Cord Injury.

While we would much prefer that none of our community are impacted by Spinal Cord Injury in the future, it is a privilege to help individuals and families on their road to recovery during what is a critical cross road in their lives.

For further information on how Ryan Carlisle Thomas can assist with your personal injury, please call 1300 366 441.

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