The spine has 33 vertebrae, from the neck to the pelvis, with seven cervical (neck) vertebrae, 12 thoracic (upper back) vertebrae, five lumbar (lower back) vertebrae, five sacral (pelvic) vertebrae, and four coccygeal (tailbone or coccyx) vertebrae. Because the spinal cord connects the brain to the rest of the body, damage to the spinal cord can lead to serious long-term health conditions and severely impair motor skills.
Accidents at work can result in temporary, and even permanent, injuries to the spinal cord. Spinal cord injuries caused by slips and falls, falling objects, vehicle accidents, construction accidents and excessive repetitive lifting motions may lead to partial or complete paraplegia or tetraplegia and severely limit a person’s ability to financially support themselves.
The Long-Term Effects of Spinal Cord Injuries
Complete paraplegia is a term physicians use to describe impairment in motor or sensory function of the legs. Paraplegia can result from injuries to either the thoracic, lumbar or sacral regions of the spine. If all four limbs are affected by the injury this is referred to as tetraplegia (also commonly referred to as quadriplegia). Monoplegia is the medical term used when only one limb is affected.
Spinal cord injuries can also result in spastic paraplegia, resulting in sudden and uncontrolled movements of the affected limb(s).
Individuals that suffer a work injury that results in paraplegia or quadriplegia may experience complications, such as pressure sores, thrombosis, inflammation, and nerve-related complications.
Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury
Individuals who sustain a spinal cord injury may experience the following symptoms:
- Severe back pain
- Pressure in the head, neck and/or back
- Diminished coordination or paralysis
- Numbness or tingling
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Difficulty walking or maintaining balance
- Difficulty breathing
- Unnatural positioning of the neck or back
During recovery, and possibly for the rest of an injured employee’s life, they may experience:
- Bladder and bowel dysfunction
- Full or partial paralysis
- Difficulty breathing and/or need of respiratory support
- Chronic pain
- Mood swings or personality changes
- Sexual dysfunction
Important Steps to Take After a Spinal Cord Injury
To ensure maximum functionality and independence following a spinal cord injury, it is essential that a treatment and rehabilitation program be customized to meet the unique needs of the injured worker. A team of professionals should be assembled, including physicians, nurses, physical and occupational therapists’.
Navigating the California workers’ compensation system following a spinal cord injury can be challenging for both the patient and family. Assembling an effective team of healthcare professionals as early as possible is critical to optimize recovery, regain function, and establish independence may save delays and complications later.
It’s also important to hire a workers’ compensation attorney to ensure the injured employee receives the maximum compensation they are entitled to.
Injured Employees’ Legal Rights
Under certain conditions, employees who have sustained a spinal cord injury may have legal ground to file an injury lawsuit against an employer. A workers’ compensation lawyer will assist injured workers in uncovering the potential indicators of liability and determine how best to obtain compensation. Employees can file a lawsuit in the following instances:
- Extreme negligence. The employer was aware that the work conditions were unsafe and failed to take adequate safety measures.
- Inadequate Workers’ Compensation insurance. The employer’s workers’ compensation policy doesn’t provide sufficient benefits to the injured employee.
- Denied Workers’ Compensation claim. The employers’ workers’ compensation insurance company denied the claim.
- Third party negligence. If a third party, such as a vendor or partner, was responsible for the employee’s injury, then they may be held liable.
Why Hire Thomas F. Martin, PLC
Employees who have sustained a spinal cord injury in the workplace are entitled to benefits that cover the costs of medical care, physical therapy, transportation to care providers and lost wages. A workers’ compensation company will typically try to limit the amount of care and benefits provided to the injured employee. That’s why it’s so important to hire an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
Thomas F. Martin, PLC is a highly respected workers’ compensation attorney in Orange County, CA who has helped many clients obtain the benefits and compensation they deserve. If you’ve sustained a spinal cord injury, don’t hesitate to reach out to the best workers’ compensation attorney in Orange County, CA, Thomas F. Martin, PLC.