A work accident could see your life forever changed. Paraplegia and quadriplegia are considered catastrophic injuries as they permanently affect an injured individual’s life. Paralysis is not only physically and emotionally devastating but usually requires lifelong expensive medical treatments and rehabilitation.
If you or a loved one suffered a catastrophic spinal injury and paralysis after a workplace accident, you could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits and additional compensation. Morgan & Morgan can be here for you during the most challenging time of your life. We know the costs associated with permanent paralysis, such as round-the-clock care, home and vehicle modification, and others.
Our paraplegia and quadriplegia injury lawyers want nothing more than to help you get justice and compensation. Contact us today to discover your options in a free case review.
Paraplegia and Quadriplegia Injuries
Both paraplegia and quadriplegia refer to paralysis injuries resulting from damage to the spinal cord and spinal tissue or brain.
Paraplegia - Paraplegics generally cannot feel or move their legs and are unable to walk. In most cases, paraplegia also involves a loss of function below the waist, impacting the bladder and bowels.
Quadriplegia - Quadriplegia usually affects an individual’s entire body below the neck. People with quadriplegia cannot move their limbs and require assistance with all aspects of daily living.
In exceedingly rare cases, paralysis can be cured partially or entirely with exercise and physical therapy. However, typically, paraplegia and quadriplegia are lifelong conditions that can cause considerable short- and long-term health complications.
The Health Consequences of Permanent Paralysis
According to a study published by the National Centers for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), detrimental health effects of paraplegia and quadriplegia can include:
- Fractures due to bone demineralization
- Bowel problems
- Psychological problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder
- Pressure ulcers
- Urinary tract infections
- Deep vein thrombosis
A paralysis diagnosis can be shocking and upsetting for patients and their families. Individuals suffering from partial or total paralysis may be unable to live independently and care for themselves. Paraplegics and quadriplegics may require home health aides to assist with the daily tasks of living, such as bathing, administering medications, and getting dressed. Moreover, paraplegic and quadriplegic individuals can experience considerable mental and psychological trauma, including phantom limb syndrome, depression, and anxiety.
Workplace Accidents Resulting in Paralysis
Most cases of paraplegia and quadriplegia result from motor vehicle accidents, workplace accidents, or sports-related incidents. Common workplace accidents leading to paralysis can include:
- Vehicle accidents
- Getting struck by objects
- Slips and falls
- Falls from a great height
- Getting caught in-between objects or equipment
- Accidents with heavy machinery
Workers at Risk of Suffering Paralyzing Injuries
Potentially, paralysis can occur in many types of work environments. However, certain professions and occupations have a higher risk of workplace injuries involving paralysis. Workers at risk of suffering spinal cord injuries on the job include:
- Construction workers
- Delivery and truck drivers
- Warehouse workers
- Emergency responders
- Factory workers
Your Best Next Steps After Getting Paralyzed in a Work Accident
Few injuries have more of a detrimental effect on your life and are costlier than paraplegia and quadriplegia. However, fortunately, paralysis is covered under the workers’ compensation program, allowing victims to recover medical treatment costs, wage replacement benefits, and other compensation. If you get hurt at work, taking the proper steps can be critical for getting your benefits.
Seek Medical Advice Immediately
With a catastrophic injury such as paralysis, you likely received medical care immediately at the accident scene. However, if you notice any unusual symptoms or worsening of your condition, see a doctor as soon as possible. Seeking medical help is essential for your health and provides you with evidence of your injury and impairment, which is critical evidence for a workers’ compensation claim or lawsuit.
Report Your Injury
If you are injured at work, you should report the accident and injury as soon as possible. Ask your employer for an accident report documenting the incident leading to your injuries. In some states, you risk losing the right to workers’ compensation benefits if you do not report your injury within a certain timeframe, which can be as short as a month.
File a Workers’ Comp Claim
In most cases, your employer should provide you with the documents and information required to complete a workers’ compensation claim. However, since your application for benefits is time-sensitive, make sure you file as soon as possible. Failing to file a workers’ comp claim before the deadline in your state could result in losing eligibility for benefits such as medical care and income loss.
If you suffered a paralyzing work injury and your employer is not cooperating, or you do not know where to turn for help, Morgan & Morgan has your back. Our experienced lawyers could help you get the benefits you deserve.
Benefits Available for Paralyzed Workers
While workers’ comp benefits cannot compensate you for the devastation and distress of a paraplegia or quadriplegia injury, they could help you manage your medical expenses and income loss. Benefits can vary from one state to another but generally include:
In most states, workers suffering permanent paralysis receive medical care for the rest of their lives. Workers’ comp should cover all healthcare expenses connected to your work injury, including but not limited to:
- Hospital stays
- Medical devices such as a wheelchair
- Home health care
You may also be entitled to benefits for modifying your home to your new needs, such as installing ramps, widening doorways, and remodeling a bathroom.
Most states offer permanent wage replacement benefits for injured workers with a disability that prevents them from working again. If you are a person with paraplegia and could work in a modified position, you could receive supplemental income benefits.
In most states, disabled workers can negotiate a one-off lump-sum settlement or a structured settlement, providing them with disability payments over a certain period.
Since there can be advantages and disadvantages of accepting a lump-sum or structured settlement, consider asking an attorney for advice regarding your specific situation.
If a paralyzed worker passes away due to work injuries, the surviving family members could qualify for death benefits. Depending on the state, close relatives could receive:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Weekly cash payments for the spouse and dependents
- Educational benefits
An Attorney Can Help You Claim Workers’ Comp Benefits
If you or a loved one suffered these catastrophic and life-changing injuries, you should not leave your claim to chance. Workers’ compensation claims involving paralysis can be complicated. You could qualify for a range of benefits and may also be eligible for Social Security disability and other payments.
Unfortunately, the workers' compensation insurance company is not necessarily on your side. However, a seasoned attorney from Morgan & Morgan can assess all your options for recovering benefits and prevent you from getting shortchanged by an insurer.