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What is a spinal cord injury?

A spinal cord injury is an injury to the spine, which is the structure of bone and tissue that runs from the base of our skull to the tail bone. The spine consists of a column of bones called vertebrae which are stacked on top of one another, separated by discs of tissue, which act as shock absorbers as well as holding the vertebrae together.

Running through the centre of this column, and protected by it, is the spinal cord, which is a bundle of nerve fibres that form the centre of the body’s nervous system. The spinal cord transmits messages from the brain to the rest of the body, so it is vital to the body’s functioning.

A spinal injury involves an injury to this structure, which may include an injury to one or more of the vertebrae, one or more of the discs or to the spinal cord itself. Spinal injuries can range from mild to severe, depending on which structure of the spine has been injured and the degree of damage.

For example, a minor fracture to an outer part of a vertebra may result in little more than an ache, whereas fractures encroaching on or damaging the spinal cord itself can lead to paralysis or death.

Spinal cord injuries are the most serious spinal injuries as they damage the spinal cord itself, the lifeline of the nervous system. Spinal cord injuries are usually the result of trauma to the spine, which can cause damage, such as bruising to or laceration of the spinal cord.

Motor vehicle accidents are a common cause of spinal injuries. Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to spinal injury, as their back is exposed when riding, often with devastating consequences. It is important to always wear protective clothing when riding a motorbike.

Can I make a spinal cord injury claim?

If you have suffered a spinal injury in a motor vehicle accident, even if the accident was your fault, you may be entitled to injury benefits or compensation through the Lifetime Care and Support (LTCS) Scheme and/or the Compulsory Third Party Insurer.

All reasonable and necessary treatment and care for spinal cord injuries are covered by the Lifetime Care and Support (LTCS) Scheme. Those with serious spinal injuries frequently require extensive medical treatment and incur large rehabilitation expenses, and it is important to ensure that you maximise your entitlements, including the provision of medical treatment. 

If the other driver was wholly or partly at fault you may also have rights to compensation for pain and suffering and impairment and for wage loss. 

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