Crush Injuries at Work in North Carolina

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A crush injury is one of the most serious accidents occurring in a workplace. It is often a medical emergency, and doctors must act quickly to give you the best chance at preserving the affected area and not requiring an amputation. In certain cases, a crush injury can be severe enough to even put your life in danger. Crush injuries on the job would most likely result in workers’ compensation benefits, and there is a chance you could sue a third party if they were to blame for your injury. To learn more about how your potential case may unfold, contact an experienced Wilmington workers’ compensation lawyer at Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys today for a free consultation.

What Are Crush Injuries?

Crush injuries occur when a part of your body is trapped between two heavy objects. These objects can apply heavy pressure and force onto the individual body part, causing serious injury.

The force and resulting compression can cause damage to soft tissues, muscles, and nerves. If the pressure is severe enough, the damage can impact the bone. Some crush injuries may even result in amputation if the damage is so severe that the limb cannot be saved.

Causes of Crush Injuries on the Job

Crush injuries are often caused by machinery, but there are other causes of crush injuries, including:

  • Falling objects: You could be struck by or trapped under a heavy falling object.
  • Equipment malfunctions: You may get caught in a piece of equipment or pinned to a wall when the equipment is not properly operated or there is a defect.
  • Machinery Accidents: A runaway or negligently operated piece of mechanical equipment can run over you.
  • Collapses: A wall or structure can collapse, trapping part of your body and applying severe pressure.

The Severe Dangers of Crush Injuries

There is a major immediate complication of a crush injury that could be life-threatening called compartment syndrome. Here, the pressure on your muscles from the compression can be so severe that it can cause permanent damage. The pressure can restrict the blood flow to the muscle, preventing oxygen and nutrients from reaching nerve and muscle cells and leading to permanent muscle damage.

Compartment syndrome can even lead to kidney damage, as restricted and altered blood flow can lead to damage. If severe compartment syndrome is not treated promptly, the accident victim can die.

Medical Treatment and Rehabilitation of Crush Injuries

One of the most pressing concerns that doctors can be faced with is whether to save a limb after a crush injury. If it is damaged enough, there may be such severe harm that the doctor has no choice but to amputate the limit to prevent infection.

There are several surgical procedures that doctors may need to perform depending on the severity of the injury. The doctor may need to perform a laparotomy to debride necrosed muscles. If the patient has suffered compartment syndrome, the doctor may need to perform a fasciotomy to decompress the area and restore normal circulation.

The immediate hours after the crush injury are the most critical. The treatment starts at the scene with the emergency personnel, who can begin to treat any crush syndrome. Doctors must perform surgical procedures on an emergency basis to have the best chance of saving the limb.

For example, if the fasciotomy is performed eight to ten hours after the initial injury, it may be too late to avoid amputation.

Legal Remedies for Crush-Related Injuries

When you have suffered a crush injury at work, the most common legal remedy is to file a workers’ compensation claim. You cannot sue your employer in a personal injury lawsuit, so your compensation will come from their insurance carrier.

When you hire an experienced attorney, they will perform a complete investigation to determine whether there is someone else that you can sue for your injuries. If there is a third party who was to blame for your crush injury, you may file a personal injury lawsuit against them, which could result in more compensation if you win your case. For example, if your crush injury was caused by defective work equipment, you could file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer or anyone who is involved in the stream of commerce.

Compensation for Crush Injuries

If your remedy is to file for workers’ compensation benefits, you would receive the following:

  • Two-thirds of your lost wages that you were earning before the injury, subject to a statutory cap
  • Reasonable and necessary medical expenses to treat your injury
  • Vocational training in case you need to relearn how to do your job or another profession

If you have suffered a permanent injury, you could be entitled to a workers’ compensation settlement. North Carolina law assigns a certain number of weeks to each body part that is injured. You would be assigned a disability rating that quantifies the extent of the injury to that body part. If you have suffered a serious crush injury, you can expect a disability rating that is closer to 100%. Independent medical examiners have been known to be overly optimistic about your health because it benefits the insurance company, so having an experienced attorney on your side is crucial.

Contact an Experienced Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Crush injury workers’ compensation claims can be complex because of the severity of the injuries that you can suffer. You may be entitled to a large workers’ compensation settlement when you can prove you are permanently disabled from a work-related injury. You can discuss your legal case with the lawyers at Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys. To schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation, you can get in touch with us online or call us today at 910-405-7751.

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