Spinal Cord Injuries
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, even slight damage to the spinal cord can lead to serious long-term health conditions and may 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 long term repetitive lifting motions may lead to partial or complete paraplegia or tetraplegia and severely limit a person’s ability to financially support themselves, and provide for their loved ones.
The Long-Term Effects of Spinal Cord Injuries
Complete paraplegia is a term physicians use to describe impairment in motor or sensory function, usually 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, nerve-related, and other health complications.
Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury
Individuals who sustain a spinal cord injury may experience the following symptoms:
· Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs
· Loss of function of the legs, feet, arms or hands.
· Severe pain in the neck and/or back
· Motor weakness
· Diminished coordination
· Loss of function of the foot (drop foot)
· Loss of bladder or bowel control
· Difficulty walking or maintaining balance
· Difficulty breathing
Permanent limitations may include:
· 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 Immediately 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 IMMEDIATE and customized to meet the unique needs of the injured worker. A team of professionals should be assembled, including physicians, nurses, and physical and occupational therapists.
Navigating the California workers’ compensation system following a spinal cord injury can be challenging for both the patient and family. An effective team of healthcare professionals is critical to optimize recovery, regain function, re-establish independence and may save delays and complications later.
It’s also important to consider retaining a workers’ compensation attorney to ensure the injured employee receives the appropriate medical treatment and compensation they are entitled to.
Injured Employees’ Legal Rights
Under certain conditions, employees who have sustained a spinal cord injury may have a legal basis to file an injury lawsuit against an employer or others that are responsible for the injury. A workers’ compensation lawyer can assist injured workers in documenting the potential liability of people and businesses that may have contributed to the accident or condition. Employees may have the following claims:
· Serious and Willful Misconduct. The employer was aware that the work conditions were unsafe and failed to take adequate safety measures.
· Inadequate or No Workers’ Compensation Insurance. The employer may be responsible for additional benefits even they have the workers’ compensation insurance required under California law.
· Third-party negligence. If a third party, such as another person or business, may be held liable for benefits IN ADDITION to workers’ compensation.
Why Hire Thomas F. Martin, PLC
Employees who have sustained a work-related spinal cord injury, or any other type of injury or illness, may be entitled to substantial benefits that cover the costs of medical care, physical therapy, transportation to care providers and wage replacement benefits. The harsh reality is that it is the job of a workers’ compensation insurance company to save as much money as they can on your claim. That’s why it’s so important to consider consulting with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. The consultation is free.
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 truly deserve. If you’ve sustained a spinal cord injury, what many consider the best workers’ compensation attorney in Orange County, CA, Thomas F. Martin, PLC.