When I first walked in to the Duke of Cornwall Spinal Injuries Treatment Centre in Salisbury I turned round and walked out. The centre is one of the 9 specialist spinal units in the country and provides surgery, medical treatment and rehabilitation to people who have had spinal cord damage.
Having a spinal cord injury is not “having a bad back”. It occurs when the spinal cord is damaged to the extent that the patient is paralysed from the point of injury downwards. Many spinal injury patients cannot walk, deal with their own toileting requirements or have sexual intercourse.
Many spinal injury patients are young, often rugby players, horse riders and motorcyclists. That’s why I walked out; before those who have had the worst of luck could see the tears in my eyes.
Ten years on from that first visit I am now a member of the Spinal Injuries Association Spinal Injuries Panel. I am one of the handful of solicitors in the country who has chosen to dedicate their career to speak on behalf of those with spinal cord injuries.
We are a rare breed of solicitor. We deal with clients with spinal injuries on a daily basis. We know the needs that they have on a daily basis. The fact that a spinal injured patient will need 2 or 3 carers, specialist accommodation, many aids and appliances to help them with their mobility and compensation for the fact that they will not work again. Spinal injury claims are often worth several millions of pounds and every pound is needed to ensure that the spinal cord injured person can lead a dignified and fulfilled life.
The Spinal Injuries Association is the national charity for spinal injured people. They help with funding and grants, give advice on welfare benefits and provide information and support for spinal cord injured people. They also assess the ability of solicitors to provide good quality professional representation for people with spinal injuries.
Instructing a non-specialist solicitor can result in your claim being settled for far less than it is worth. You may find yourself losing benefits that you need to help you pay for your care if you have not been advised to set up a personal injury trust. You may need a Lasting Power of Attorney so that your family can help you deal with your day to day finances and a non-specialist solicitor may not recognise this fact.
Specialist solicitors will visit you at home or in hospital rather than just sending you paperwork for a distance. We will meet your families and advise them on their concerns to. We provide an all round service.
Spinal injury specialists handle some of the largest claims that come before the English Courts. We are used to it and we do it well.
I have been into spinal injury units nationwide in the last 10 years and have never looked back. I have helped clients thought trauma and crises, laughter and tears, weddings and the birth of their children. I see clients wearing my black Court dress and in my jeans. It is one of the most diverse roles a solicitor can have and one of the most rewarding.