The medical treatments you may need to help you deal with your paralysis after a workplace accident can be expensive. In addition, you could be helped by many assistive tools, like a wheelchair, environmental control unit, and special technology to enable you to use a computer as well as modifications to your home to allow you to continue living there. All of this is costly, and you could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to pay for them.
You may also develop secondary medical problems as a result of your paralysis. You want to be certain to include the costs of treating these conditions as well those associated with your paralysis in making a settlement offer in your workers’ compensation case. This can make the value of your claim higher, and you need to be prepared to fight for the benefits you are entitled to.
What Secondary Conditions Could You Suffer From If You Are Paralyzed in an Accident at Work?
You should be vigilant in seeking medical treatment for any secondary complications that arise as a result of your paralysis. If not treated properly, some of them can be life-threatening. Some common problems you could suffer with include:
- Autonomic dysreflexia. If your spinal cord injury was in the middle of your back or higher, pain signals from below your injury may not reach the brain. This can result in blood vessels constricting and your blood pressure rising while your heart rate slows. If untreated, this is a dangerous condition that could cause you to suffer a stroke or seizure—or die.
- Bladder control. Any type of paralysis will cause you to lose some or all bladder control because the nerves controlling your bladder and bowel are located at the bottom of the spine. If you are like many paralysis victims, you will use a catheter—a thin flexible tube inserted into your body to your bladder—that urine flows out of. It is important to empty your bladder regularly because you are at high risk of developing a urinary infection.
- Bowel control. Bowel control problems can range from constipation to loss of control. A health care professional can give you advice on a healthy diet for your condition and may teach you how to retrain your bowel. Some people find that having a colostomy—a surgical procedure that creates a permanent opening in the colon and the surface of the abdomen where a collection bag is attached—greatly improves the quality of their lives.
- Pressure sores. Pressure sores are caused by being in the same position for long periods of time, which allows the skin to break down. This is a common problem for people who are paralyzed, and the pressure sores can become seriously infected if left untreated.
- Blood clots. People who have a spinal injury are at high risk of developing a blood clot—also known as deep vein thrombosis. These blood clots most commonly develop in the lower leg or thigh. They can become life-threatening if they break loose from a leg vein and travel to the lungs. Blood thinner medications and inflatable pumps on your legs can help.
- Respiratory problems. Paralysis can cause the abdominal and chest muscles to weaken, which can restrict or totally impair your breathing. If severe enough, you could need the assistance of a ventilator to breathe. Even if you can breathe on your own, you are at high risk of becoming ill with pneumonia or other respiratory illnesses—sometimes life- threatening.
You can find detailed information regarding these complications and others at The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.
Why an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney Is Essential If You Were Paralyzed in a Workplace Accident
If you were paralyzed in an accident while on the job, you will need medical treatment and suffer with complications for the rest of your life. These future medical expenses and lost wages must be considered in determining the value of your claim. You need the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who will be able to prove these and other future expenses when settling your workers’ compensation claim so that you receive what you deserve.
Were you paralyzed in a workplace accident? Did you suffer other injuries while at work? Call our office today to schedule a free case evaluation to learn about the workers’ compensation benefits you could be entitled to.