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Spinal Cord Injuries on Construction Sites

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How Spinal Cord Injuries Happen on Construction Sites in New York

Being a construction worker can be a tough and often dangerous job. In fact, it has been reported that New York construction workers are five times more likely to be in a serious or even fatal accident on the job. Catastrophic and other seriously debilitating injuries occur more often than they should on New York construction sites. One of the more severe injuries that occur on construction sites involves damage to the spinal cord, which often leaves victims with permanent disabilities, such as a limited function of a part of the body or partial paralysis. This is typically the case when the victim has had their spinal cord injured farther down their back. It is important for workers to be aware of how these spinal cord injuries occur on construction sites in order to protect themselves, but it is equally as important for those who have already suffered injuries to contact an experienced attorney right away. If you’ve been injured in a construction site accident in the City of New York, contact Proner & Proner today to begin discussing your legal options.

Different Types of Spinal Cord Injuries and The Different Parts of the Body

The spinal cord involves a network of nerves that sends signals to and from the brain to the rest of the body. It controls everything from your ability to open and close your hand to automatic functions like breathing or your heart beating. So when something goes wrong with such a critical part of the body, this can have devastating and often permanent effects on one’s body and overall wellbeing.

There are 31 bones or vertebrae that make up your spine. These bones are divided up into different regions and indicate what parts of the body they send signals to and from. These regions include:

  • Cervical (C1-C7): The neck bones, which control nerve signals to the neck, arms, and hands. It is common to be unable to breathe on your own when damage occurs in this area.
  • Thoracic (T1-T12): These sections are located in the upper back and involve communications with and to the torso and parts of the arms. It is again common to be unable to breathe on your own with damage in this area.
  • Lumbar (L1-L5): These are in the middle of your back, controlling nerve communications with the hips and legs.
  • Sacral (S1-S5): These are located in the mid-to-lower back and involve signals to the groin, toes, feet, and parts of the legs.

Spinal cord injuries are also placed in different classifications depending on the severity of the damage that you have. Spinal cord injuries can be classified as either incomplete or complete. Incomplete injuries involve damage that has only limited someone’s abilities to perform motor functions with parts of the body or experience their senses.

Complete injuries, on the other hand, involve more serious damage that completely prevents the spinal cord nerves from communicating and sending impulses to any part of the body that section controls and below. These types of injuries are usually permanent, with minimal chance for recovery.

Spinal Cord Injuries Are Almost Always Catastrophic Injuries That Involve Paralysis and Other Serious Medical Conditions

Because of the importance of the spinal cord for the overall functionality of the body parts and organs, serious injuries to any region of the spine can have devastating consequences for victims. There is a wide range of possible conditions, but one of the most common is paralysis.

The different types of classified paralysis that could occur include:

  • Quadriplegia AKA Tetraplegia – This level of paralysis occurs when the cervical vertebrae of the spinal cord are damaged. This is one of the most severe levels of paralysis which results in paralysis of all the limbs. It can also affect the torso and cause issues with bladder and bowel control as well as loss of other important bodily functions.
  • Paraplegia – This level of paralysis occurs when the thoracic vertebrae of the spinal cord is damaged. It results in loss of movement, functionality, and/or sensation in the legs and parts of the torso not including the arms.
  • Hemiplegia – This level of paralysis occurs when incomplete lesions occur on the spinal cord. This damage results in paralysis on one side of the body and is sometimes referred to as “Brown-Séquard Syndrome”.

Besides paralysis, there are many other debilitating conditions that can arise from spinal cord damage. Not all of them are life-threatening, of course, but they certainly can cause a lot of stress or completely alter one’s way of life.

Possible physical complications that can arise from spinal cord injuries include but are not limited to:

  • Blood Clots
  • Breathing Problems
  • Bowel and Bladder Dysfunction
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Pressure Sores
  • Constant and Chronic Pain
  • Sexual Difficulties
  • Body Temperature Regulation Issues
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Irregular Heart Beat
  • Pneumonia

There is also a condition that can arise known as autonomic dysreflexia. When there are pain signals or certain stimuli that occur to parts of the body that are no longer receiving nerve signals from the spinal cord, serious and potentially fatal situations can arise. Because that part of the body cannot communicate with the brain, reflexive reactions can occur. These can damage vascular and organ functionality and systems, which can easily lead to seizures, strokes, coma, or even death.

Common Construction Site Accidents That Cause Spinal Cord Injuries

There are many dangers on construction sites in New York, but certain types of hazards are more likely to cause catastrophic injuries, like spinal cord injuries, than others. These types of hazards tend to cause traumatic impacts to parts of the head, beck, and back, which result in spinal cord injuries.

Common construction site incidents that result in spinal cord injuries include:

  • Falls. Falls from high places, such as ladders or scaffolding, can result in spinal cord injuries.
  • Scaffolding collapses. When scaffolding falls apart, the workers on top and any workers below may suffer traumatic spinal cord injuries.
  • Motor vehicle accidents, struck by accidents, crushed by accidents. Forklifts, trucks, and other heavy equipment that are used on construction sites can result in accidents when colliding with other vehicles, scaffolding, materials, or other workers.
  • Failure to have proper safety gear. Safety gear, such as harnesses or helmets, can prevent spinal cord injuries.
  • Improper training. Poor training can result in many of the construction accidents listed above.

Contact a New York City Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Construction Site Accident Case in New York

If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident, contact the New York law firm of Proner & Proner today and get the compensation you deserve. You can call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or you can submit your case below for a free, no-obligation consultation.

The skilled attorneys at Proner & Proner represent clients injured because of construction site incidents in Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and throughout New York. Contact us using our online form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 60 E 42nd St Suite 1448, New York, NY 10165, as well as offices in Forest Hills, Brooklyn, Bronx, Bethel, CT.

Frequently Asked Questions

What types of spinal cord injuries are considered life-threatening?

In truth, any spinal cord injury can be considered life-threatening when autonomic dysreflexia is taken into consideration. Autonomic dysreflexia results in reflexive reactions that can cause seizures and strokes. This occurs when a certain part of the body is in pain or having an intense stimulus, but cannot communicate this with the brain.

Outside of autonomic dysreflexia, the most dangerous spinal cord injuries include those that involve damage to the cervical and thoracic vertebrae. The reason for this is due to the significant changes that occur in the arms and up. For example, if the spinal cord can no longer tell the lungs to breathe or the heart to beat, then this situation is considered to be life-threatening.

How does workers’ compensation work if my spinal cord injury results in a level of paralysis that restricts me from returning to work permanently?

If your injury results in permanent partial or total disability, you will be paid a percentage of your wage times the percentage of loss of functionality of the parts that are disabled. Usually, if you can no longer work, you will be paid weekly or bi-weekly until the day, if it comes, that you are no longer disabled.

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