Spinal injuries can be extremely serious, with life-changing consequences for those injured and their families.
If you've suffered a spinal injury in an accident that was not your fault, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, loss of income and pain and suffering resulting from the injury.
Personal injury claims involving spinal injuries can be complex, so it's important to consult a properly qualified attorney. You'll also need to consider the following points.
Who you’ll claim from
Spinal injuries are most commonly the result of road accidents, but can also occur in many other circumstances. For example, spinal injuries can happen on a sports field or in a shopping mall, or be the result of physical assault or medical negligence.
Depending on how you sustained your injury, you'll claim from a private individual, a private institution or a government organisation.
It's important to note that South African law prevents anyone injured in a road accident – including drivers, passengers, motorbike riders, cyclists and pedestrians – from claiming damages from the individual/s responsible. Instead, victims or their dependants may claim compensation from the state-supported Road Accident Fund (RAF).
Whether you have a valid claim
If you suffer a spinal injury as a result of intentional wrongdoing or negligence on the part of another party, it's likely you have a valid personal injury claim.
If you've sustained a spinal injury, you may be legally entitled to claim compensation from the party to blame if this party has either:
- a “duty of care”, meaning a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of others
- a “duty to act”, meaning a legal obligation to take action to prevent harm in certain circumstances.
Examples of parties with a “duty of care” include property owners, appliance manufacturers and public transport providers. Those with a “duty to act” include police officers, medical professionals, child care providers, teachers and lifeguards.
If the party responsible for your injury does not legally have a “duty of care” or “duty to act”, they may still be held accountable for your injury in certain circumstances – for example, if it resulted from an attack by a dog.
The best approach is to consult an experienced personal injury attorney to find out if you're entitled to compensation.
Evidence to support your claim
To support a claim, you should gather and keep evidence such as relevant medical reports, police reports, financial statements, contact details for witnesses and photographic or video evidence. This will assist an attorney in fully investigating and building a case.
Even if you think you might not have sufficient evidence, it's best to consult an attorney with experience in personal injury claims. The attorney may be able to assist in locating or gathering appropriate evidence.
How much seeking compensation will cost you
If you use the services of attorneys who operate on a contingency – or "no win, no pay" – basis, you can lodge a claim with the assistance of an attorney, without paying any legal fees or outgoing expenses up front. Fees and outgoing expenses then become payable only if your claim is successful.
Where to find the best legal representation
Spinal injury claims are complex and require special medical and legal expertise to defend. For these reasons, it's crucial to seek assistance from attorneys who have relevant qualifications and experience.
At DSC Attorneys, we specialise in personal injury law and our attorneys and medico-legal team have extensive experience in handling spinal injury claims.
We can assess your claim, help prepare supporting evidence and represent you in legal proceedings, giving you the best chance of receiving the compensation you deserve. We also work on a “no win, no fee” basis and offer a free first consultation.
Contact us for more information or to discuss your personal injury claim.