Living with Spinal Cord Injuries
More than 86,000 Canadians currently live with a spinal cord injury (SCI). More than half of those injuries were acquired through some form of trauma, such as a motor vehicle collision or a serious slip and fall accident. When another party’s negligence causes an unsuspecting person to sustain a complex, debilitating injury like an SCI, the accident victim will be forced to endure a difficult and expensive process of adjusting to life in their new circumstances.
The financial burden of living with an SCI can be overwhelming. According to research available through the National Library of Medicine, a single Canadian’s estimated lifetime expenses resulting from a severe SCI may range from $1.5 million to $3 million. People who have sustained an SCI may not only be required to pay for expensive medical treatments and attendant care, but their injury may make it impossible for them to return to work. With high costs of living and a reduced earning capability, people with SCIs often find themselves in drastic financial circumstances.
People who have sustained an SCI may also lose their ability to live independently. Adjusting to this quality of life can lead to social isolation, emotional anguish, and severe mental health issues. The process of adjusting to life after a debilitating accident may also have profound effects on victims’ family members, who may also be required to make substantial changes to their lives to provide their injured loved one with the care they need.
Traumatic SCIs can have a lifelong effect on an accident victim’s physical, mental, emotional, financial, and social well-being. If you or someone you love sustained an SCI in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, an Ontario personal injury lawyer may be able to help pursue legal action against the responsible party to try recovering financial compensation.
How Do SCIs Occur?
SCIs can happen to anyone, in any traumatic accident. If the trauma sustained in an accident causes one or more vertebrae to break, it can permanently damage a person’s spinal cord.
Since the spinal cord acts as a superhighway for the brain to send signals to other parts of the body, an SCI can affect many physiological areas, including sensations, strength, and motor abilities. If the spinal cord is injured, neurological impulses may be impeded, leading to loss of mobility and sensation.
The location of the injury on an accident victim’s body determines the extent of paralysis. If the injury is sustained higher up on the body, more extremities may be affected. The levels of injury are differentiated as follows:
- Quadriplegic: Injuries in the spine’s upper region cause paralysis in the victim’s arms, trunk, legs, and pelvic region (including bowels and the bladder).
- Paraplegic: Injuries in the spine’s thoracic or lumbar regions affect the lower portion of the body, but do not affect the accident victim’s arms.
According to the Rich Hansen Spinal Cord Injury Registry, the leading cause of SCIs in Canada are slip and fall accidents. These accidents can occur in both everyday situations, like slipping on an icy sidewalk, and more unexpected circumstances, such as falling off a balcony.
Other leading causes of SCIs in Canada include:
- Motor vehicle collisions
- Sports accidents
- And more
Ontario Resources for People Living with SCIs
The 1,389 Canadians who, on average, sustain an SCI each year will most certainly face enormous challenges. But several support services and financial resources exist to help accident victims live full, meaningful lives.
Spinal Cord Injury Ontario is a registered charity that offers a number of helpful resources to Ontarians living with an SCI, including a Peer Support Program that connects community members with one another to share insights, experiences, and encouragement.
Additionally, funding opportunities made available by the provincial and federal governments may help ease the economic burden of living with a disability. Some of these income sources include:
- Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP): This provincial support program provides monthly financial assistance to assist people living with a disability to pay for basic needs, like food, clothing, and shelter, as well as health benefits, like drug coverage and vision care.
- Ontario Assistive Devices Program (OPD): Ontarians with long-term physical disabilities may qualify for financial assistance to pay for necessary equipment and supplies, including wheelchairs, power add-ons for manual wheelchairs, forearm crutches, specialized ostomy products, and more.
- Disability Tax Credit (DTC): People living with SCIs and their caregivers may be able to receive tax credits and deductions to reduce the amount of federal income tax they and the people who care for them will be required to pay annually.
- Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP): If you are eligible for DTC and are under the age of 60, you may be able to participate in this savings plan, intended to help disabled people prepare for their long-term financial security.
Seeking Financial Compensation for SCIs Caused by Accidents.
If you sustained an SCI in a motor vehicle collision, you may be eligible to access statutory accident benefits, regardless of which driver was responsible for causing the accident. These benefits provide coverage for the costs of medical treatments, rehabilitation, lost income (up to the policy limit), and possibly more.
Additionally, if your accident was caused by another party’s negligence, an Ontario personal injury lawyer may be able to pursue financial compensation on your behalf by filing a tort claim, also referred to as a lawsuit.
If you submitted an application for long-term disability benefits to your insurance provider and your claim was unfairly denied, a long-term disability lawyer may be able to help you appeal your insurance company’s decision by filing a lawsuit against them. If successful, you may be able to recover damages for:
- Previously denied benefits payments
- Future benefit payments
- Legal fees
- Damages for mental stress experienced
- Punitive damages
- And possibly more
How Preszler Injury Lawyers May Be Able to Help
If you’ve been seriously injured as the result of an accident and are having trouble coping with the new financial realities of your situation, Preszler Injury Lawyers may be able to review your circumstances, and provide you with useful legal assistance and advice.
To discuss your case in a free, initial, no-obligation consultation, contact us today online, or call Preszler Injury Lawyers at 1-800-JUSTICE.