Spinal Cord Injuries on the Job – What You Need to Know
Spinal cord injuries on the job are serious. Unfortunately, they occur far more often than many people realize.
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, “The estimated number of people with SCI living in the United States is approximately 291,000 persons, with a range from 249,000 to 363,000 persons.”
They also report there are “about 17,730 new SCI cases each year” – a number that does not include those who died at the location as a result of a spinal cord injury.
Those who suffer spinal cord injuries on the job, and live, face a number of challenges, such as permanent paralysis or loss of sensation in specific areas of the body.
On top of the pain of the spinal cord injury itself, victims are also left to deal with lengthy hospital stays, rehabilitation, and costly medical bills.
They also may be out of work for a significant amount of time – possibly forever.
If you or someone you love has suffered spinal cord injuries on the job, read the following list of insights to have a better idea of what you may be facing.
#1 There Are Many Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord is a key part of your central nervous system responsible for relaying messages from the brain to other areas of the body, and between separate areas of the body.
So, those who suffer spinal cord injuries on the job may experience damage to their motor skills, permanent paralysis, or loss of sensation in specific areas of the body.
Spinal cord injuries can result from a variety of circumstances:
- Construction accidents
- Falling objects
- Vehicle collisions
- Slip and falls
- Repeatedly lifting heavy objects
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, “Vehicle crashes are the most recent leading cause of injury, closely followed by falls. Acts of violence (primarily gunshot wounds) and sports/recreation activities are also relatively common causes.”
#2 Spinal Cord Injuries on the Job Happen in Several Ways
Considering the various causes listed above, it is easy to see how spinal cord injuries on the job may happen.
If you drive for an employer and are in a vehicular accident, this could result in a spinal cord injury.
If you slip and fall in a warehouse, this could result in a spinal cord injury.
If an object falls on you, this could result in a spinal cord injury.
If you are caught in machinery, this could result in a spinal cord injury.
When it comes to workers’ compensation benefits, it will come down to whether or not the spinal cord injury happened at work or as a result of work.
#3 Time Is of the Essence with Spinal Cord Injuries
While many spinal cord injuries are noticed right away, that isn’t always the case. And this is a problem.
Mayo Clinic explains, “A serious spinal injury isn’t always immediately obvious. If it isn’t discovered, a more severe injury may occur. Numbness or paralysis can be immediate or come on gradually. The time between injury and treatment can be critical in determining the extent and severity of complications and the possible extent of expected recovery.”
#4 Some Individuals Are More at Risk
Statistics suggest that some individuals are more at risk of spinal cord injuries than others.
Males are more at risk.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Females account for only about 20% of traumatic spinal cord injuries in the United States.”
Age is also a risk factor. More than half of spinal cord injuries occur between ages 16 and 30. However, those over 65 years of age are also more at risk for spinal cord injuries.
#5 Lengths of Hospital Stays Vary
Unfortunately, a spinal cord injury almost always means a lengthy hospital stay.
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, lengths of stay in the hospital acute care unit are around 11 days.
However, rehabilitation lengths of stay last around 31 days.
There are some victims who are forced to live in hospitals, group living homes, nursing homes, or similar residences.
#6 Many Spinal Cord Injury Victims Are Re-Hospitalized
Since spinal cord injuries often cause long-term complications, it is common for victims to be re-hospitalized at some point.
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, “Since 2015, about 30% of persons with SCI are re-hospitalized one or more times during any given year following injury. Among those re-hospitalized, the length of hospital stay averages about 19 days. Diseases of the genitourinary system are the leading cause of re-hospitalization, followed by disease of the skin.”
#7 People with Spinal Cord Injuries Are More at Risk of Death
Due to the nature of a spinal cord injury, victims are also more at risk to die than their peers.
Check out this information from SCI-INFO-PAGES:
- “Mortality risk is highest in the first year after injury and remains high compared to the general population.
- People with spinal cord injury are 2 to 5 times more likely to die prematurely than people without SCI.
- Mortality risk increases with injury level and severity and is strongly influenced by availability of timely, quality medical care.”
#8 Few of Those Who Suffer Spinal Cord Injuries on the Job Return to Work
Here’s the sad truth about spinal cord injuries. Whether you suffer an incomplete or complete injury, one or more parts of your body will not work (at least for a while).
It is extremely difficult to work without functioning limbs in the vast majority of jobs (until you have been rehabilitated and retrained).
Therefore, it isn’t surprising to learn that most victims don’t return to work.
The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center reports, “17% of persons with SCI are employed at year 1 post-injury. The employment rate increases over time to 32% at 30 years post injury.”
#9 The Lifetime Costs of Spinal Cord Injuries Are Steep
Those who suffer spinal cord injuries on the job in Georgia will likely need continuous care, which means piling up medical bills.
Even those who suffer a spinal cord injury and still have some motor function will pay more than $1 million for medical expenses in their lifetime.
Those who experience higher levels of neurological impairment will pay significantly more.
Hence the reason workers’ compensation is so important.
#10 Many Spinal Cord Victims Suffer from Depression
Spinal cord injuries on the job turn people’s worlds upside down.
As a result, many victims suffer from depression.
MSKTC reports, “About 1 in 20 Americans (over 11 million people) get depressed every year. Depression is even more common in the spinal cord injury (SCI) population – about one in five people.”
#11 A Spinal Cord Injury Can Lead to Many Long-Term Complications
Due to the serious nature of spinal cord injuries on the job, it is important to understand that, even if you receive treatment, you may still suffer from long-term complications.
Here are some of the long-term complications:
- Sexual dysfunction
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Blood clots
- Loss of sensation in the limbs and extremities
- Neurogenic pain
#12 Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Will Work to Get You the Benefits You Deserve
Unfortunately, even when you have clearly suffered a spinal cord injury on the job, it doesn’t mean it will be easy to work with the insurance company.
This is because the insurance company is much more focused on saving money than paying you the benefits you are entitled to.
When you are in pain and suffering, you should not try to battle an insurance company.
Instead, hire an experienced workers’ comp attorney in Georgia to fight for you!
At DeMedeiros Injury Law, we understand the battle you’re facing and will fight on your behalf to secure the benefits you’re entitled to under the law.
If you’ve been injured on the job, contact us today for a free, no-strings-attached consultation.
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