Spinal cord injuries are among the most painful and disabling injuries that a worker can suffer on the job. In addition to the immediate pain and suffering a spinal cord injury can produce, a severe spinal cord injury can result in long term or permanent disability on the part of the worker. It is vital that anyone who believes that they have suffered a spinal cord injury immediately seek out professional legal assistance in order to receive effective compensation from their employer.
The Causes of Work Related Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries can be caused by a variety of events, ranging from a sudden compression of the spinal cord due to sudden acceleration or deceleration, to traumatic injuries from falls, collisions or malfunctioning equipment.
This can be especially common in professions such as construction, where workers often find themselves in areas where falls from a great height are likely, or warehouse operations, where poorly secured pallets may fall and pin an employee. Since spinal cord injuries can result even from falls from a moderate height, store employees may find themselves injured after a fall from a ladder or slipping on the floor.
In other cases, spinal cord injuries may result from long-term causes, such as duties that include the repetitive transportation of heavy items by hand. For example, warehouse and retail workers often find themselves suffering spinal cord injuries related to their daily duties, especially if their employer fails to provide alternatives to lifting and transporting materials by hand.
The Consequences of Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are currently irreversible and in most cases lead to long-term pain and disability on the part of the victim. Victims often find themselves unable to work, and therefore require varying degrees of financial and medical support for the rest of their lives.
An injury to the spinal cord usually results in varying degrees of paralysis. In many cases, this results in a condition called paraplegia or quadriplegia depending on the extent of the paralysis. A paraplegic has lost some or all of function in his or her lower limbs. While some retain the ability to walk with assistance, in many cases the legs are completely paralyzed, resulting in permanent confinement to a wheelchair.
A quadriplegic has lost some or all function in both the arms and legs, resulting in a complete dependence on supportive care. In extreme cases, the victim may be unable to either feel or move any part of his or her body below the neck.
In addition to the direct consequence of a spinal cord injury, victims can suffer from a variety of other health conditions. The inability to feel or move their lower body can result in infections and bedsores developing and spreading before being detected, and the fact that many sufferers remain in a reclining position for much of the day can result in serious respiratory conditions developing.
In addition to the physical consequences, the victims of spinal cord injuries and their families alike face long-term medical and caregiver bills, as well as the loss of income from the worker. Where the injured individual was the primary wage earner in the family, this can result in a devastating blow to his or her family’s economic health.
Psychologically, the stresses of caring for a disabled individual can result in increased emotional and mental health issues. These psychological stresses will require the assistance of qualified professionals to assist the family in coming to terms with their misfortune.
Obtaining Compensation for Spinal Injuries
In many cases, spinal cord injuries occur due to preventable accidents. Companies are required to ensure that their work conditions, including equipment safety, training and operational procedures, allow for a safe working environment. When an accident occurs, the company can bear responsibility for compensating their employee for the damages he or she has suffered. A skillful attorney can assist the victim in receiving the full compensation that he or she is entitled to obtain from the employer.
This compensation includes the cost of medical treatment, therapy, home and outpatient care, and the hiring or in-home nursing care or other supportive treatment. Furthermore, the victim can receive compensation based on how much he or she would have earned had the accident not occurred.
Beyond the compensation for direct medical assistance and financial losses to the victim, it is possible to obtain compensation for the pain and suffering that has been incurred as a result of the injury. In some cases, punitive damages may be levied against the employer or other parties, such as when the accident was the result of a willful failure to maintain a safe work environment.
Beyond working to obtain compensation from the employer, an effective personal injury attorney specializing in spinal cord injuries can assist the victim and family in obtaining the various forms of aid that are available from local, state and federal organizations. Often, qualifying for public assistance can involve complex documentation and lengthy filing procedures that are best handled by a professional.
Finding Effective Representation
Any spinal cord injury case will be a complex legal undertaking that is best handled by a skilled attorney. Without the assistance of such an attorney, the victim and his or her family may find it difficult or impossible to obtain the compensation to which they are entitled.
This is especially true in work related injury cases, as many companies will attempt to claim that the injury is due to the employee’s actions, rather than their own failure to provide a safe working environment. In other cases, the employer may attempt to convince their employee to accept a settlement that is far less than what could be obtained by a trained attorney. It is vital that the employee seek out legal assistance as soon as possible in order to be able to effectively negotiate with their employer.
A personal injury attorney can evaluate his or her client’s case and determine what the best course of action is. In addition, the client’s attorney will be able to obtain hospital records and relevant information from the employer and the employer’s insurance company. Furthermore, if the employer has faced spinal cord injury related lawsuits in the past, the victim’s attorney will be able to obtain that information in order to create the best possible legal case.
In many cases, securing an attorney will spare the victim and family from ever having to enter the courtroom. When facing a knowledgeable and experienced attorney, an acceptable settlement may be reached between all parties, without a lawsuit having to be filed. This will allow the family to avoid an emotionally damaging and potentially lengthy court process while still obtaining the assistance and compensation that they require.
A spinal cord injury is a traumatic and emotionally trying event for both the victim and the victim’s family. While no amount of compensation can truly offset the impact of such a crippling injury, it can allow the victim to receive the medical care and support needed, while protecting his or her family from financial ruin. By making use of an attorney skilled in this form of litigation, the victim can radically increase the probability that an acceptable outcome will be reached that provides for his or her needs.
The law offices of Eric J. Hertz, P.C. have a number of skilled attorneys with extensive experience in handling spinal cord injury cases. These professionals will work to assist their clients in obtaining the compensation they deserve. Those who need representation for any situation involving a spinal cord injury should immediately contact an attorney to have their case evaluated on an individual basis and be informed of all of their legal options.