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A independent building and construction contractor was working for a construction corporation


A independent building and construction contractor was working for a construction corporation in a project in Panama City on September 3, 1985. He was at the office working on some paper work. While he was seated at his desk, he reached out to his left to a cubby hole near his desk for some more blueprints. As he reached for the blueprints he turned in his seat. He twisted his trunk and he could not move: hand outstretched, trunk twisted to the left in his seat. He remained there until his wife found him forty-five minutes later. An ambulance was called to rush the independent contractor to the hospital.

His wife took him to the emergency room where he was diagnosed to be suffering from paralysis from the neck down. CT scans were performed on him in Panama City and he was diagnosed with sudden quadriparesis (weakness in the muscles of the four limbs) of unknown origin. The doctor in Panama City opined that his injury was vascular in origin and it must have been a pre-existing vascular anomaly.

The Panamanian construction company, his employer, paid for his medical bills and paid for temporary partial disability benefits. When the man returned for further diagnoses and treatment in the United States, he consulted his general physician, the one he had been seeing for most of his adult life. His general physician referred him to a neurosurgeon who conducted more tests on him. His American doctor found that what happened to the independent contractor was spinal contusion. As the man turned and reached for the blueprints while he was seated, his spine was twisted out of shape and there was a momentary loss of blood supply to his spine. The momentary loss of blood supply to the spine resulted in lack of oxygen and thus, paralysis. The vascular disability resulted from the blood supply loss and the oxygen deprivation of the spine.

Physical therapy and medication were advised. A year after the incident, the independent contractor was still suffering from muscular weakness in all his four limbs but he was able to walk around with the aid of a cane. He was able to do very light work for a short time. The American neurosurgeon opined that spinal injuries heal very slowly and it may take two years before the true extent and nature of the independent contractor’s injuries and disabilities are.

Further MRI scans revealed that the acute quadriparesis occurred spontaneously and that the spinal cord in the neck, the upper and lower back was within normal limits. With the help of these medical findings, the American neurosurgeon ruled out pre-existing muscular anomalies. The damage to the membranes covering the spinal cord, the myelin, looked to be healing. The general physician of the independent contractor testified that the independent contractor did not have any history of back pain although he had a history of migraine headaches.

The deputy commissioner for compensation claims found that although the medical evidence regarding the independent contractor’s condition was largely conflicting, the evidence that the sudden loss of blood circulation in his spine was not due to a pre-existing medical condition. There was no known cause. The onset was sudden. The injury occurred while the independent contractor was at work and it was occurred as he was discharging his functions at work. Had he not been at work, seated at his desk and doing paperwork, he would not have reached out to get blueprints from a nearby cabinet and he would not have twisted his spine so as to cut-off the blood supply to his spine. It was the turning and bending motions while seated at his desk which caused the internal spinal injury to the independent contractor.

The commissioner’s order for the employer to pay temporary total and temporary partial disability benefits, medical bills and to furnish medical care and treatment to the independent contractor is upheld.

Doctors in The Bronx and Brooklyn are taking note.

Are you an office worker? Did you suffer a spinal injury while seated at your desk working? Did you suffer a disability because of the spinal injury? You need to speak with a Florida Spinal Injury Attorney. A Florida Spinal Attorney can help you file a complaint for your claim of compensation. A Florida Spinal attorney from Stephen Bilkis and Associates can also help you present evidence to prove your injury. Come and visit any of the offices of Stephen Bilkis and Associates and speak with their Florida Spinal Injury lawyers.

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