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What if you suffer a spinal cord injury south of the border?

A significant percentage of spinal cord injuries in British Columbia are caused by auto or motorcycle accidents each year. Damage to the spinal column can result from injury to the ligaments, vertebrae, disks or damage to the spinal cord itself. The consequences of spinal cord injuries could be life-altering for the victims and their loved ones. 

Not all spinal cord injuries are traumatic. Diseases like cancer, arthritis, inflammation and infections can cause harm to a person’s spine. Crash-related spinal injuries could include sudden blows to the spine fracturing, dislocating, crushing or compressing any number of vertebrae. Many people in Canada find themselves unable to live normal lives and continue their careers after traumatic spinal cord injuries leave them paralyzed. 

Emergency signs of spinal cord damage

Many times car accident victims do not immediately show signs of spinal damage. Additional damage usually occurs over days or weeks because of inflammation, swelling, bleeding and fluid accumulation around or in the spinal cord. Unfortunately, delayed diagnosis of such damage could exacerbate the long-term consequences. The following red flags might be signs of spinal cord injuries: 

  • Pressure in the head, back or neck or extreme back pain 
  • Tingling, numbness or loss of all or some sensation in the fingers, hands, toes or feet 
  • Weakness, paralysis or incoordination in one or more parts of the body 
  • Difficulty maintaining balance when walking 
  • A twisted or oddly positioned back or neck 
  • Impaired breathing after a car accident injury 
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control 

If anyone from Vancouver suffered spinal cord injuries while travelling south of the border, they might have grounds to sue the party believed responsible for damages if negligence can be established. However, the legal process could be challenging because it will involve the laws of both countries. The financial and lifestyle changes after spinal cord injuries that caused paralysis could be devastating. If properly navigated, financial relief to cover current and long-term medical expenses and lost wages could be awarded in a civil lawsuit.