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Construction Injuries that Result in Paralysis

construction site injuriesOSHA statistics paint a grim picture for construction worker safety in the United States. Tens of thousands of construction workers are seriously harmed on the job every year, and falls are the number one cause of life-threatening and fatal injuries. When accidental falls and other mishaps crush or damage the spinal cord, partial or complete paralysis may result. After suffering spinal cord trauma, victims may experience loss of sensation and movement in the legs, trunk, arms and hands, depending on the severity and location of the injury.

Anecdotal reports of construction accident-related paralysis speak to the imminent dangers facing workers today, especially considering that fall protection is the most violated OSHA regulation. All laborers must be provided with adequate fall protection equipment – including guard rails, safety harnesses and toe-boards– whether working on scaffolding or operating heavy equipment at heights more than 6 feet.

Falls from great heights

More than any other type of construction accident, falls are the leading cause of spinal cord trauma and paralysis. Take the case of construction worker Hugo Hernandez Palomino, a Maryland worker who was paralyzed from the neck down when he fell from scaffolding after being struck by a high-voltage transformer. The impact from the violent fall broke his cervical vertebrae, rendering him quadriplegic. In 2014, a Maryland jury awarded Palomino and his family $21.7 million to account for his substantial pain and suffering, and lifelong medical needs. Palomino is unable to work, and will need 24-7 nursing care for the remainder of his life.

When workers like Palomino are unfortunate enough to suffer injury higher on the spinal cord (between the C1-C4 vertebrae), the results are catastrophic. Quadriplegic patients require round-the-clock personal care and assistance with basic tasks such as bathing, dressing and eating.

A fall that irreparably injures the lower cervical vertebrae or thoracic vertebrae in the middle to lower back can result in paraplegia, affecting movement and nerve sensation in the legs and lower body. Victims may be confined to a wheelchair, though many can learn to drive a modified car.

Struck-by accidents

OSHA includes “struck by” incidents as part of the construction industry’s Fatal 4 hazards. Every year, thousands of workers are struck by falling objects, tools and heavy machinery such as crane loads and forklifts, causing debilitating injury and death.  A severe blow to the neck or back from a heavy machine or falling object can easily damage the delicate spinal column, culminating in temporary or permanent loss of function.

Examples of common “struck by” accidents that can result in paralysis:

  • Struck by crane load or boom
  • Fallen tools, objects or machinery
  • Collapsing structures
  • Compressed air flying-object hazards
  • Hit by a rolling object such as a road grader, forklift or backhoe

Compensation for construction accident paralysis

Though advances in spinal cord research and groundbreaking nerve cell therapies hold promise for the future, those living with paralysis face exorbitant medical costs and a reduced quality of life. For workers who have suffered a paralyzing construction accident injury, it’s important to ensure that negligent parties are held accountable and fair compensation is obtained.

Ellis Law Corporation works with medical and economic experts and life care planners to accurately project the true value of your claim, and leverages more than 25 years handling complex construction accident cases. For a no-charge case evaluation with a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer call us at 1-800-INURED.

Paralysis Caused by Construction Accident: Resources

  1. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Construction’s “Fatal Four” https://www.osha.gov/oshstats/commonstats.html
  2. Washington Post, Paralyzed construction worker awarded $21.7 million after accident at Pepco site https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/paralyzed-construction-worker-awarded-217-million-after-accident-at-pepco-site/2014/10/24/92ada96a-5bb5-11e4-bd61-346aee66ba29_story.html?utm_term=.8bab6a09fb85