Filing for workers’ compensation after a spinal cord injury in North Carolina
A spinal cord injury is one of the most life-changing events that a person could experience. The nature of this type of injury often creates serious physical, mental and financial challenges that are difficult to manage on your own. Even a “mild” spinal cord injury can require extensive and costly surgical treatments, physical therapy and leave you with chronic pain.
Although many people think that injuries to the spinal cord are rare, they happen to thousands of people each year. Workers’ compensation laws in North Carolina are designed to help you manage the challenges associated with your injury, but knowing exactly when and how they apply to spinal cord injuries is the tough part.
How does the spinal cord work?
Your spinal column is part of your body’s central nervous system. The spinal cord is housed in this column, and it contains bundles of nerves that send messages to and from your brain and the rest of your body.
The spinal column has vertebrae that allow your body to move freely while the hard bones also provide protection to the delicate nerves. It also has ligaments and discs that aid in movement.
If an injury occurs to any of these parts, then the damage can be long-lasting. Spinal cord injuries are often difficult to treat due to their close proximity to other critical and more sensitive parts of the spine.
Common causes of work-related spinal cord injury
The majority of spinal cord injuries occur during accidents that cause blunt force trauma to the neck or back. At work, you might experience this type of injury during a vehicle accident or if you sustain a major fall.
Slip-and-fall accidents are a common way to hurt your spine since they can cause your spinal column to be pulled out of its proper alignment. If you work as a professional athlete, then you are also at a higher risk of hurting your spine. Construction workers, warehouse workers and truck drivers are all at a greater risk of this injury as well.
You can also injure your spine from doing extreme or rapid twisting movements. Heavy lifting and pushing movements increase the strain on your spine. Janitors, housekeepers and nurses often injure their backs when they attempt to lift a heavy object or assist with patient transfers.
Can spinal cord injury treatments help?
Treating a spinal cord injury immediately is critical for potentially being able to avoid the worst long-term effects, such as being confined to a bed or wheelchair. The first treatment that you’ll receive is a thorough exam. If you have a severe injury, then you may need to seek multiple medical professionals’ opinions to be certain that the recommended treatments are your best option.
In the earliest stages of your injury, you may be immobilized to reduce the risk of further trauma to your spine. This means that you may temporarily be confined to a bed or asked to reduce your daily activities. You may need help with getting dressed, bathing and preparing your meals. At this time, your physicians will likely be doing tests to identify the severity of your injuries. You may also use prescription medications to reduce swelling and inflammation along with the pain.
Depending upon your injuries, you may undergo surgery to help realign your spinal column. This can include major procedures that could involve repairing a herniated disc, removing bone fragments or fusing parts of your spine together.
Spinal surgery involves serious risk for further damage, and it isn’t always successful. However, modern medical technology has made these procedures safer and more effective than they were in the past. Still, you could find yourself needing ongoing care or the use of mobility devices, such as a wheelchair or walker.
How much do spinal cord injuries cost?
The cost of medical treatments can quickly add up with a spinal injury. Hospital stays often add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars when treating severe spinal cord trauma. These medical bills can be devastating to your financial well-being, even when you have health insurance.
Spinal cord surgeries require specialists to conduct the procedure. You may also need costly medications, ongoing physical therapy and new assistive devices that all add up over time. For example, a spinal injury that doesn’t allow you to regain your prior ability to walk could require you to attend therapy sessions for years or purchase an expensive wheelchair.
When is a spinal cord injury covered by North Carolina workers’ compensation?
If your injury occurred while you were working, then you are likely covered by workers’ compensation and will receive financial benefits to pay for your treatments. However, the right amount of compensation for spinal cord injury can be difficult to determine for many reasons. Due to the high costs for treatment and potential for long-term disabilities, it’s best to work with an attorney to make sure that all of the factors affecting your case are considered.
Spinal cord injuries typically cause severe pain and the sudden loss of your prior abilities. Being unable to work or tend to your needs is upsetting, and you are likely already experiencing emotional challenges as you learn how to cope with your new circumstances. After reaching out to the Wilder Pantazis Law Group, we’ll provide you support as we work on securing the best possible outcome in your case. We will make sure that you have the funds you need to pay for your treatments and ongoing care.