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By Jim Adler September 8, 2016

As many as 17,000 Americans suffer spinal cord injuries each year, says the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC). Around 40 per cent of those injuries occur in traffic accidents, but more than 25 per cent are due to falls, and many falls and other causes of spinal cord injuries arise in the workplace.

This is well worth keeping in mind during September, which is National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month.

Spinal Cord Injury Statistics

In its declaration of September as National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month, the United States Senate noted the following spinal cord injury statistics:

  • Approximately 282,000 individuals in the United States live with a spinal cord injury.
  • Approximately 40,000 spinal cord injury victims are veterans who suffered a spinal cord injury while serving in the Armed Forces of the United States.
  • Spinal cord injuries account for billions of dollars in health care costs and lost wages in the United States.
  • Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries, as well as the third leading cause of traumatic brain injuries. Both types of injuries can lead to permanent paralysis.
  • Motor vehicle accidents account for approximately 50 percent of all spinal cord injuries to children under the age of 18.

Workplace Spinal Cord Injuries

As for workplace spinal cord injuries, keep in mind that males account for around 80 per cent of new spinal cord injury (SCI) cases each year, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). And it is men who are most often involved in “heavy lifting” jobs on construction sites, oil rigs, shipyards, factories or industrial plants.

There, spinal cord injuries can occur when:

  • A worker lifts a too-heavy load
  • A worker falls from a high ladder, ledge, oil rig or scaffolding to a hard surface below
  • A worker is injured by large machinery or equipment, perhaps by getting caught between machines or suffering from machinery or equipment malfunctions
  • A worker is injured by workplace vehicles. Again, 40 per cent of all SCI involves vehicle crashes.
  • A worker suffers any kind of traumatic blow which breaks or dislocates a vertebra, which is a bone disk that serves to protect the spinal cord.

What is a Spinal Cord Injury?

As for precisely what is a spinal cord injury, as noted above it often involves a fracture or dislocation of a vertebra.

In between the vertebra are spongy disks which absorb shocks, cushion the bones and aid in protecting the spinal cord inside. When a disk ruptures, it can herniate — or bulge — out of its customary place. That often occurs in the lower back, and it can cause extreme pain.

Even a tiny or “hairline” fracture of a vertebra can be a significant injury, reducing the victim’s mobility and causing great pain for even small movements. SCI victims also can suffer from pinched nerves, as well as torn or strained muscles or ligaments around the spine.

Results of Spinal Cord Injuries

The worst spinal cord injuries can result in paralysis, or a loss of sensation and function in the extremities (arms and legs). Known as paraplegia, such paralyzing injuries tend to be permanent and life-changing, causing victims to seek alternative ways of functioning in everyday life as well as alternative employment beyond that to which they’re accustomed.

Spinal cord injury victims, whether in the workplace or elsewhere, also may face:

  • Difficulty regulating their blood pressure
  • Difficulty breathing on their own
  • Bowel and bladder control problems

Victims also may face a reduced lifespan, during which they may spend much time getting medical treatments. They also may need to have their homes or workplaces modified to accommodate their injury.

Workplace Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuits

Given the great costs and complications of such injuries, victims may need workplace spinal cord injury lawsuits to claim payments for their many expenses and losses. The law firm of Jim Adler & Associates has decades of experience helping injured Americans with such injury claims.

For those suffering spinal cord injury on the job, workers’ compensation insurance can help, but it may not provide nearly enough payments to cover the complete cost of their losses. Victims also may need a spinal cord injury lawsuit against a contractor, operator or negligent third party who contributed to their injury, or perhaps an insurance company which balks at paying what it rightly owes.

Contact the law firm of Jim “The Texas Hammer” Adler today and get a free legal review of your case. You may be legally entitled to substantial payments for your losses owing to spinal cord injury in the workplace, whether or not you were injured in a job that’s most at risk for spinal cord injuries.

Meanwhile, let’s all be alert during National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month — or any month — and reduce spinal cord injuries on the job or elsewhere.

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