Spinal Cord Injuries & Workers’ Comp Claims
Although spinal cord injuries in the workplace are rare, a single injury to any part of your spinal cord can be very serious and may lead to complete paralysis. Spinal cord injuries can happen in any industry, but they are more common in work environments with significant hazards or heights, such as construction zones or warehouses.
Can I File a Workers’ Comp Claim for a Spinal Cord Injury?
If you injured your spinal cord at work, you can file a claim workers’ compensation. These injuries can be very serious, so it is important that you not only get the medical care you need but use every resource available to you to get back on your feet.
The term “spinal cord injury” covers two major types of injuries:
- Complete spinal cord injuries. In a complete injury, the spinal cord is completely severed. That means that you will lose function in virtually everything that is controlled by the spinal cord below the point of severance. You may be able to regain some function, but it likely will never be complete.
- Incomplete spinal cord injuries. These are much more common. The spinal cord is only partially severed, which means that you are much more likely to be able to regain some function. The extent of your injuries will dictate how much function you can get back after this type of injury.
Keep in mind that any spinal cord injury is considered a nerve injury. The type of spinal cord injury you have will dictate what type of functional loss you have.
Common conditions include:
- Paralysis: You are completely unable to move from the point where the spinal cord was severed, down.
- Paraplegia: Paralysis of the legs and lower body.
- Quadriplegia: Paralysis of all of the limbs and torso.
How Can I File a Spinal Cord Injury Claim?
Because spinal cord injuries are often due to a traumatic event, it will be fairly obvious that your spinal cord injury is work-related. However, you should still go through the process of notifying your employer and using the work comp process by taking these steps.
- Get medical help as soon as you can; seeking help early can help prevent further damage
- Report the incident to your employer as soon as you are able (but do not delay getting medical attention to make this report)
- Work with your employer to go to a listed doctor, if one is available
- Continue treatment with your doctor as recommended
- Receive a letter from your employer within 21 days of your injury to determine if your claim is accepted or denied
It is important to speak to a Pennsylvania workers’ comp attorney if your request is denied.
However, because spinal cord injuries are often very serious, talking with an attorney even if your claim was accepted is a good idea. That way, you can ensure that you are getting all of the benefits that you are entitled to receive.
How Common is a Spinal Cord Injury at Work?
Spinal cord injuries at work are rare. In fact, only about 12% of all spinal cord injuries occur at work. However, they are one of the most severe types of work injuries. They will often lead to life-long health problems, disability, the inability to return to the same line of work. You may not be able to work at all after this type of injury.
It is much more common to have some time of minor nerve damage that may be associated with the spinal cord. These damages can cause loss of sensation and loss of function in limited parts of the body.
Pinched nerves and other similar issues often do not arise from damage to the spinal cord, but the spinal cord can be affected by back injuries, such as a herniated spinal disk.
Are Spinal Cord Injuries Common in Certain Industries?
Spinal cord damage is frequently the result of a blow to the back. Falls and vehicle accidents are often associated with spinal cord injuries.
As a result, these injuries are more common in the following industries:
- Trucking or transportation
- Any position that includes travel by car/truck
- Landscaping (particularly landscapers who trim tall trees)
- Manufacturing (particularly for assembly line and warehouse workers)
What Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits Can I Get?
With severe spinal cord injuries, there is a real possibility that you will be unable to work for the rest of your life. That means that you may be entitled to receive benefits for as long as you cannot work—which could mean weekly payments for life.
Other types of benefits include:
- Weekly pay for lost wages while you cannot work
- Medical expense
- Travel costs to attend medical appointments
- Vocational rehabilitation (job training and counseling if you need to switch careers)
How Much Compensation Should I Expect for Spinal Cord Injuries?
Your benefits will be entirely dependent on your average weekly wage. Weekly benefits and permanent total benefits are based on two-thirds of your average weekly earnings before the accident.
Because everyone’s wages are different, it is difficult to predict an “average” number for total compensation. Talk to a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation lawyer to get a better idea of what kind of payment you could receive for your injuries.
Workers’ Comp Lawyers For Spinal Cord Injury Claims
Spinal cord injury claims are often very serious. Having an experienced workers’ compensation attorney work with you will help ensure that you are getting all of the benefits for which you’re eligible.
Krasno Krasno & Onwudinjo has generations of experience helping workers just like you. Let us put that experience to work for you and your family.
Use the form to the right to get started and request a free, no-obligation consultation.