Articles Posted in Slip and Fall Injury

Published on:

A woman took the bus. As she was about to go down from the bus, while walking down the aisle toward the exit, she slipped on something slippery on the floor. She had a slip and fallwhich landed her on her bottom. She sustained spinal injury, specifically in her lumbar spine and cervical spine.

The Staten Island woman sued the transit authority which operated the bus along with the city government which owned the bus. After the depositions were taken and discovery was closed, the transit authority filed a motion for summary procedure asking that the woman’s complaint be dismissed for failure to show that she sustained a serious injury.

The woman opposed the motion for summary judgment arguing that this is not the usual motor vehicle accident and that she was not suing merely under a “no fault” law. She claims to have raised issues of negligence. She claims that the transit authority and the city government did not exercise reasonable care in keeping the buses safe for passengers and clean enough so that passengers would avoid a slip and fall while riding on the bus.

The only question is whether or not the motion for summary judgment should be granted.
The Court held that a summary judgment is a drastic remedy that cannot be lightly used.

Once a motion for summary judgment has filed, there is a requirement that the person seeking the summary judgment of dismissal has discharged his burden of proving the grounds for his motion. When this happens then the opposing party must be given an equal opportunity to provide evidence showing that there are material issues of fact that needs to be tried before a jury.

The Court held that the issue of whether or not the transit authority exercised reasonable care is a material question of fact that has a direct bearing on whether or not the transit authority is liable in damages. There is also the issue of whether or not the plaintiff’s slip and fall accident and the resulting spinal injury could have been caused by contributory negligence on her part. Because these two material issues of fact have yet to be determined, the motion for summary judgment cannot be granted.

However, the Court decided to rule on the branch of the motion for summary judgment that alleged that the woman did not suffer a serious injury that allows the payment of damages under the Insurance Law. The Court noted that the transit authority submitted a medical report prepared by an orthopedic surgeon who examined that the woman. In this medical report, the orthopedist reported that the woman suffered a sprain in her cervical spine, in her lumbar spine and in her left knee. However, the Westchester orthopedist noted a pre-existing degenerative disc disease in her spinal cord and pre-existing arthritis in her left knee joint.
The transit authority also submitted the medical report of a neurologist who examined the woman just before trial. He found that there was no permanent neurological impairment, disability or abnormality. He concluded that he only found sprain and contusions in her cervical spine and lumbar spine.

A psychiatrist also examined the woman before trial and he reported that the woman was capable of performing the usual activities of her daily life without restrictions. The psychiatrist noted that the woman suffered from depression and anxiety after the accident but these issues have already been resolved.

A radiologist took and MRI of the woman’s left knee and left shoulder and found that there was mild impingement in the joint that is consistent with the usual wear and tear associated with age and with chronic degenerative spinal disease.

The Court concluded that the woman failed to raise an issue of material fact as to the seriousness of her spinal injury. The case is dismissed except as to the claim for negligence and as to the claim of injury which resulted in temporary disability for 90 days after the accident.
Continue reading

Published on:

A fifty-three year old Nassau medical secretary had been working at a hospital for a number of years when on December 29, 1967 she slipped on a door sill. The medical secretary fractured her left hip. A nail and a pin were used to repair the medical secretary’s hip. She was confined to bed at a nursing home for six months. The medical secretary filed a claim for permanent total disability benefits. After her surgery, a neurologist examined the medical secretary and found that she was also suffering from a spinal degenerative process and that around thirty to fifty per cent of her condition was related to the degenerative disease instead of to the accident.

For this cause, the employer refused to pay the permanent total disability benefits after six months. The employer claims to have paid for her medical care until maximum medical improvement had been reached. After the sixth month, the total disability of the medical secretary was no longer due to the accident at work but it was due to the pr-existing spinal disease.

At the trial, the Suffolk doctor to whom the medical secretary was assigned testified that the medical secretary had worked for him for years. And he had been largely satisfied with the medical secretary’s work performance. However, he had noticed that the medical secretary’s health has been consistently and continuously deteriorating. She had lost a lot of weight and appeared severely malnourished. She had difficulty walking and often, she had to brace herself because she was unsteady on her feet. The doctor testified that had the medical secretary not injured herself, he would have asked her to resign. Her work has deteriorated just before the accident. If the medical secretary applied for a job on the day of his accident, he would not have hired her. He thought that the woman’s severe malnutrition could also be the reason why a slip resulted in a severe fracture.

The judge of Industrial Claims was sympathetic with the medical secretary but he denied her claim. He did not think that the accident aggravated the medical secretary’s underlying psychological and neurological disease. He also found that the medical secretary’s disabilities were not aggravated by the injury she sustained at the workplace. Despite this, the judge found that the woman was now completely unemployable.

The only question on appeal is whether or not the accident and the resulting disability to the medical secretary are compensable.

The Court finds that her immediate supervisor knew that the medical secretary was already disabled even before her accident and while she was working on the job. The immediate supervisor was a medical doctor and he observed that the medical secretary’s health was already failing. She could barely move and walked very slowly; he noted that her behavior was becoming more and more eccentric and if he even testified that if she had not been injured, she would have been terminated because of her disability. Her disability was obvious for a long time. After the accident the medical secretary was no longer able to work. It is clear that her disability was aggravated by the injury she sustained at the workplace. The mental and emotional collapse which accompanied the injury is also a disability. At the time of her injury her work was passable-it was a downgrade from the good and excellent work she used to be capable of but at the time of her spinal injury, her work was still acceptable. The Court found that the Judge of Industrial Claims erred when he did not find her disability compensable under the Special Disability Fund.

The order of the Judge of Industrial Claims is reversed and remanded.
Continue reading

Published on:

First Case:

On 7 March 1991 and on 14 June 1991, the Family Court of New York County made a finding of neglect against the subject parents and ordered a year of minimal supervision by the Child Welfare Administration, respectively. An appeal from the order followed.

The court finds that the orders must be are affirmed, without costs.

As the Family Court Act provides, a prima facie case of abuse or neglect is established by proof of injuries sustained by a child of such a nature as would ordinarily not be sustained or exist except by reason of the acts or omissions of the parent or other person responsible for the care of such child. Once a prima facie case is established, the burden of coming forward with the proof shifts from the petitioner to the parents to offer a satisfactory explanation to rebut the evidence of abuse.

Here, the court finds that the ruling of the Family Court that the subject child was neglected was supported by evidence and that he sustained a spiral fracture of his upper right arm while in the sole care of his parents. This injury, according to the expert testimony of two witnesses, would not have been caused by the child’s spina bifida. Further, while there was some testimony by the mother that the injury could have been caused by the infant’s two and one-half year old brother, other testimony demonstrated that it was unlikely that a two and one-half year old child would have the strength or dexterity necessary to inflict such an injury. Moreover, despite the overwhelming medical evidence that the child would have experienced extreme pain immediately after the injury, and the pain would have continued for several days, the mother testified that prior to the morning of 10 October 1989, when she brought the subject child to the Institute for an evaluation as to his spina bifida, she observed no swelling or discoloration of the right arm and no indication the child was suffering pain or discomfort. The uncontroverted medical testimony was that multiple signs of injury, including swelling, discoloration, lack of movement of the arm and pain whenever the arm was touched, would have been clearly apparent to the parents and they should have sought medical treatment sooner than October 10. Thus, the record establishes that the parents failed to take prompt and appropriate action to obtain medical treatment for the child after the injury to his arm was readily discernible. In addition, the Queens Family Court did not abuse its discretion in concluding the parents required the continued services of the agency and ordering a twelve month period of supervision. In any event, since the dispositional order has expired, the issue of the length of the supervision is now moot.

Second Case:

On 7 August 1991, the Supreme Court of Ulster County granted certain defendants’ motions for summary judgment dismissing the complaint against them. An appeal from the said judgment followed.

There are two actions involved which allege medical malpractice arising out of the labor and delivery of plaintiff at a Hospital in Ulster County on 16 January 1980. The first action seeks to recover damages for the pain and suffering plaintiff experienced during a prolonged and difficult labor, during the birth of her son, however, permanent injury is not alleged; she also seeks damages for the emotional distress allegedly incurred by her due to the condition of her infant; and includes a derivative cause of action on behalf of plaintiff’s husband. The second action was commenced on behalf of the infant seeking damages for injuries he sustained at the time of his birth. Nonetheless, the herein appeal is limited to the dismissal of the complaint in the first action.

Here, the court finds that plaintiff did not sustain any physical injury and by reason of the fact that her pain and suffering was not alleged to be permanent, but that the pain was associated with the childbirth process resulting from the prolonged labor and delivery of her son, it is not actionable. In view thereof, in the absence of an independent physical injury to plaintiff, her cause of action seeking recovery for emotional or psychic harm occasioned by the birth of her child in an alleged impaired state must also fail. Thus, with the plaintiff having failed to set forth a cognizable claim, the derivative action of plaintiff’s husband must also fail. On plaintiff’s claim that defendants have failed to support their motion for summary judgment with an affidavit of merit, the court finds this untenable. The evidence in the record clearly establishes as a matter of law that plaintiffs have no cognizable claim. Therefore, the Supreme Court correctly granted summary judgment to defendants dismissing the complaint in the first action. In sum, the judgment appealed is affirmed, with one bill of costs.
Continue reading

Published on:

The plaintiff sustained serious and catastrophic injuries when he fell while traversing a trench at a construction site in the Bronx. As a result of plaintiff’s fall into a trench at the job site he became impaled on a reinforcement bar (rebar) that was surgically removed several hours after his admission to the hospital. It is in this setting that the jury, after a trial and after hearing testimony from plaintiff’s physicians and other experts regarding the devastating and traumatic nature of the personal injuries he sustained, rendered a verdict in the sum of $86 million including $20 million for past pain and suffering and $55 million for future pain and suffering.

A Lawyer said that, plaintiff’s treating physician, the Director of Spinal Cord Services at Helen Hayes Hospital, described in explicit detail the nature and effect of the spinal injuries plaintiff incurred. The Doctor provided the court and jury, inter alia, with a graphic picture of plaintiff’s suffering, stating in part, that the pain plaintiff continues to experience “is of two types. He has nerve pain in his legs, and that nerve pain is perhaps one of the worst pains that you could think of. Imagine somebody stabbing you with a knife, a gazillion times, or with a pin all over the place. That numbness, that tingling, that stabbing sensation” is “present all the time, but it is a constant pain and that pain will not go away.” He depicted plaintiff’s chronic pain by providing the jury with a vivid description of the damage to plaintiff’s spinal column when the rebar went into the area of his spinal cord and the compression fracture also caused by the pipe entering his body. He described the emotional pain sustained by the plaintiff caused by the distress of no longer having the ability to walk and the nerve pain emanating from his legs which he testified was permanent. The jury also heard testimony regarding plaintiff’s chronic bed sores, his cauterization in order to urinate, his inability to control bowel movements, constant urinary tract infections and repeated hospitalization for the conditions described by the Brooklyn Doctor.

A Lawyer said that, the defendant moves pursuant to CPLR §4404 and §5501, to reduce the damages awarded to the plaintiff, after a jury trial, contending that the award is excessive and materially deviates from fair and reasonable compensation.

The issue in this case is whether the damages awarded to plaintiff is excessive and materially deviates from fair and reasonable compensation.

The Court said that, manifestly, pain and suffering awards are not subject to precise standards that permit a purely mathematically evaluation in order to determine whether a verdict deviates materially from what is reasonable compensation. CPLR §5501 requires that: “In reviewing a money judgment in an action in which an itemized verdict is required by rule forty-one hundred eleven of this chapter in which it is contended that the award is excessive or inadequate and that a new trial should have been granted unless a stipulation is entered to a different award, the appellate division shall determine that an award is excessive or inadequate if it deviates materially from what would be reasonable compensation.”

It is well established that the language quoted, although specifically directed to the appellate courts, also applies to the trial court mandating the trial court to review jury awards to determine whether the award is excessive or inadequate. Consequently, review under CPLR 5501 requires the trial court to evaluate whether the award deviates from comparable awards and as the court observed, reviewing comparable awards “cannot, due to the inherently subjective nature of non-economic awards, be expected to produce mathematically precise results, much less a per diem pain and suffering rate.” It is also evident that review of jury verdicts for personal injuries to ascertain whether the award is reasonable, involves questions of fact.

Defendant referred this Court to several cases in an effort to convince the Court that the award, in the instant case, is not fair and reasonable. At the outset, this court acknowledges that the verdict rendered by the jury in the case at bar is unprecedented in view of the evidence presented regarding plaintiff’s spinal injuries and the jury award clearly exceeds what can be considered fair and reasonable. However, this recognition regarding the size of the verdict in the instant case does not automatically carry with it the court’s determination that the award falls within the boundaries which defendant suggests would be a fair and reasonable award for the plaintiff, who concededly is a paraplegic experiencing constant pain.

Evaluation of prior awards, in similar personal injury cases is intended to provide guidance to the court in resolving disputed contentions regarding the adequacy or inadequacy of a verdict so that issues such as prejudice or sympathy do not become the motivating factor for the award. The trial court, therefore, in reviewing a jury award must consider the nature of the injury sustained by the plaintiff, the plaintiff’s age, the physical condition of the plaintiff prior to the occurrence, the permanency of the injury sustained, plaintiff’s ability to return to gainful employment, the pain, both physical and emotional, experienced and to be experienced in the future, the extent of future hospitalization and ascertain whether the award in part was generated by the devastating effect of plaintiff’s injury. Here, x rays introduced at the trial showing the presence of the rebar that entered plaintiffs body clearly invoked sympathy by the jury causing in part, a huge verdict that was intended to compensate the plaintiff not only for pain and suffering he sustained but the grief experienced by the impact of the steel rod entering his body. Manifestly, modification of damages awards cannot be based on past precedents alone.

This Court’s review of the cases set forth in this opinion denotes the factors which are considered in assessing what would be reasonable compensation. This process, now completed, does not however provide a clear picture that permits the application of some formula that identifies the limits of compensation for injuries that parallel plaintiff’s suffering. It is undisputed that plaintiff who at one time was a strong and vibrant man is now a wheelchair bound paraplegic. The devastating injury he sustained was caused by the pipe that upon entering his body destroyed his bowel requiring a colostomy bag to collect his waste matter and he is required to manage his bladder with catheters. Plaintiff’s nerve pain in his legs is continuous and permanent. Such injuries, including those previously described, including the permanency of his injuries and his inability to return to gainful employment, are the factors that this court has applied in determining what would be reasonable compensation.
For the foregoing reasons, this Court grants defendant’s motion to set aside the verdict as excessive unless within 30 days after service of a copy of this decision and order with notice of entry plaintiff stipulates to reduce the jury award for past pain and suffering from $20 million to $5 million; for future pain and suffering from $55 million to $10 million, and for future medical related expenses from $10 million to $8,295,000.
Continue reading

Published on:

The Manhattan plaintiff alleges that on or about November 29, 2001 through December 13, 2001 he came under the medical care and treatment of MD, a physician specializing in the field of transplant surgery. On or about May 2001 through June 13, 2002, the plaintiff came under the care of MD2., a physician specializing in the field of internal medicine. He also came under the care of the defendant MD3, M.D. who holds himself out as a Long Island physician specializing in surgery. From about November 28, 2001 through December 13, 2001, the plaintiff came under the care of a Memorial Hospital located in Rochester, New York where he had his kidney donor surgery performed. The plaintiff claims, inter alia, that the defendants were negligent in his care and treatment in failing to properly perform a laparoscopic donor nephrectomy; prematurely discharging him after the surgery with a retroperitoneal hematoma; causing the pancreas injury and failure; causing an inflammatory nidus and pancreatic pseudocyst; in causing a pancreaticocolenic fistula; causing the plaintiff to undergo exploratory laporatomy and drainage of a large intra abdominal abscess and closure of a colonic fistula, and causing the plaintiff to undergo a colosotomy and colostomy take-down surgical procedure to the pancreas.

MD2 seeks an order granting summary judgment dismissing the complaint asserted against him on the basis that he did not depart from good and accepted medical practice during his care and treatment of the plaintiff and that the action is time barred as although the plaintiff saw MD2 on four occasions following his surgery, all MD2 did was order laboratory tests and CT scans and then refer the plaintiff for surgical management. MD2 claims his last involvement with the plaintiff was on January 2002 and the action was not commenced until September 2004.

MD3, who is represented by the same attorneys as MD2 seeks summary judgment dismissing the complaint on the basis that there were no departures by him that proximately caused the plaintiffs spinal injuries.

Based upon the foregoing, it is determined that there are factual issues raised by the plaintiffs expert on the issue of negligence which preclude the granting of summary judgment dismissing the complaint against MD3. In that MD1 did not comment on the issue of informed consent, the burden did not shift to the plaintiff to raise a factual issue as to lack of informed consent.

Accordingly, that part of motion (001) for dismissal of the complaint as asserted against MD3. is denied as to the causes of action premised upon negligence and informed consent.

Turning to motion (002) the defendants, MD1 and the Memorial Hospital, seek to preserve their right under Article 16 as against M.D2. and M.D3. at the time of trial in the event that this Court should grant MD2 and MD3 summary judgment dismissing the complaint against them.

It is determined that in light of the motion for summary judgment having been denied and the complaint was not dismissed as asserted against MD2 that part of the moving defendants’ application has been rendered academic and is denied as moot
Turning to that part of the motion by defendants MD1 and the Memorial, it is determined that the moving defendants have not demonstrated entitlement to the relief requested. Article 16 of the CPLR provides for several liability for non-economic loss when the liability of a joint tortfeasor is found to be fifty percent or less of the total liability assigned to all persons liable, subject to specified exceptions, see, CPLR 1601; Maria E. v West Associates. 188 Misc 2d 119 [Sup Ct, Bronx County, 2001]). In Yanatos v Pogo et ah (Spinola, J.) (Sup Ct Nassau, April 25, 2006), the court set forth that since a motion for summary judgment is the functional equivalent of a trial, it follows therefrom that any defendant intending to obtain the limited liability benefits of Article 16 of the CPLR must, under penalty of forfeiture, adduce proof on point in admissible form in response to the prima facie case presented, citing Drooker v South Nassau Communities Hospital. 175 Misc2d 181 [NY Sup. Ct. 1998]). In Drooker.supra, following the granting of summary judgment in favor of a physician in a medical malpractice case, the remaining defendants who failed to oppose said physician’s prima facie showing of entitlement to summary judgment and failed to make any evidentiary showing regarding that physician’s responsibility for plaintiffs spinal injury, thereby forfeited their opportunity to limit their liability with respect to that physician’s acts or omissions under Article 16 of the CPLR.
Continue reading

Published on:

A complainant man, age 37, was admitted to a hospital, after having suffered a gunshot wound to his neck. He was treated by a general surgeon and a neurosurgeon. During the first few days of treatment, the Bronx general surgeon formed an opinion that the man would be a permanent paraplegic. The neurosurgeon was also of the opinion that the man’s spinal column had suffered such severe damage and that eventual spasms in his extremities would be inevitable. However, the neurosurgeon noted in the hospital records that the man apparently had a sensation to his feet.

Subsequently, while the man was in an intensive care unit, nurses at the hospital placed him on a special bed used to allow immobilized patients to be rotated to a vertical position. The nurse who was responsible for checking out the bed failed to check on the position of an essential bolt, and as the bed was rotated the man fell. There was conflict in the testimony as to injuries caused by the fall. The man claimed that he struck his back on a chair, while the nurse testified that she caught the man prior to the time he struck to anything. After the incident, the man was examined by another physician, who noted that the patient had not sustained any injury when a section of the bed had almost fallen down. The man testified, however, that his pain intensified after the fall and that it was only after the fall that he had begun to suffer spasms. The man was discharged from the hospital and after which, he was a patient in various other Westchester hospitals. He undergone several operations, but he remains paralyzed.
A pathologist testified as an expert witness for the man. It was his opinion that the fall striking the mid portion of the man’s back in the area through which the bullet had passed had caused some degree of neurological and spinal injury, which in turn caused additional injury to the wound site. Even if the pathologist could not assess any particular degree of aggravation caused to the already existing damage, he did testify that the man’s fall from the bed injured him to some additional degree.

For the opponent, the neurosurgeon testified that he had seen no medical changes in the man before or after which warranted any conclusion that any injury such as a fall occurring in the hospital had worsened his condition, but rather that all of the man’s problems were consistent with the original gunshot injury and inconsistent with any other damage.

Initially, the court rejected the hospital’s argument that the man’s evidence did not warrant submission of the case to the jury. But, the court finds competent substantial evidence from which the jury found that the man suffered additional injury resulting from the hospital’s negligence. The man testified that he had fallen out of bed and there were notes from one of the nurses indicating that after such fall he was unable to move his toes. Even the neurosurgeon acknowledged there had been some sensation in the man’s feet prior to the fall, but there was none there after it.

The hospital however filed an appeal from the decision entered awarding the man a total of $350,000. The thrust of the hospital’s contention is that the man was an irreversible paraplegic when he was admitted to the hospital, therefore, the fall he sustained as a result of the hospital’s alleged negligence did not aggravate his then existing injuries.
Consequently, the court affirms the decision of the trial court as to the hospital’s liability, but reverses and remand to the trial judge.
Continue reading

Published on:

This complaint sets forth a first cause of an action sounding in negligence arising out of the care and treatment rendered to plaintiff wherein she sustained second degree burns to her feet while bathing in a tub on October 10, 2004 while a resident at Siena Village, owned by the a health system of Long Island, Inc. and located at Smithtown, New York. The defendant, was an employee of the facility and the personal care aide for the plaintiff when the spinal injury occurred. The plaintiff resided at Siena Village where she received custodial care and housing. The second cause of action is premised upon the alleged negligent hiring of defendant employee by the defendant health System of Long Island, Inc.

In the answer submitted by defendant employee, a cross-claim has been asserted against the co-defendant health System of Long Island, Inc. for indemnification and/or contribution. In the answer submitted by the health system, a cross-claim has been asserted for judgment over against “Kenneth Doe” who is not named in the complaint, and a second cross-claim for indemnification from defendant employee.

According to the court, the common-law right to indemnification exists pursuant to a contract implied in law and is rooted in equity; it is a device to prevent unjust enrichment. Implied indemnity is frequently employed in favor of one who is vicariously liable for the tort of another, but the principle is not so limited and has been invoked in other contexts as well. Nonetheless, an indemnity cause of action can be sustained only if the third-party plaintiff and the third-party defendant have breached a duty to plaintiff and also if some duty to indemnify exists between them”.

“Indemnity involves an attempt to shift the entire loss from one who is compelled to pay for a loss, without regard to his own fault, to another person who should more properly bear responsibility for that loss because he was the actual wrongdoer. The right to indemnification may be created by express contract, but the contract is often one implied by law to prevent an unjust enrichment or an unfair result. In some instances the law imposes liability on a person who has in fact committed no actual wrong, but who is held responsible for a loss as a matter of social policy because he is in a position to spread the risk of loss to society as a whole.

Where one who has committed no actual wrong is held vicariously liable for the wrongdoing of another, he has a right to indemnification from the actual wrongdoer. Mere use of the term indemnification’ is insufficient to evade the bar of N.Y.Gen. Oblig. Law §15-108. A proper basis for the claim must be stated. If there is actual wrongdoing by the person seeking to assert an indemnification claim, that claim is not viable” (County of Westchester v Welton Becket Associates et al,102 AD2d 34, 478 NYS2d 305 [2nd Dept 1984]).

In the instant action it has not been demonstrated that there was a duty to indemnify as relates to the co-defendants nor has it been demonstrated that CHSLI is vicariously liable for the actions of Joanne Stokes.

Accordingly, that part of motion (002) by defendant employee which seeks dismissal of the second cross-claim which seeks indemnification, asserted by co-defendant health system against her, is granted and the second cross-claim for indemnification asserted by defendant health system is dismissed with prejudice.

Turning to motion (003) wherein the Health System of Long Island seeks summary judgment dismissing the complaint, it is determined that the health system has not demonstrated prima facie entitlement to summary judgment dismissing the complaint.

The moving papers raise further factual issues in that an employee estified that she notified the supervisor of the excessively hot water and fluctuating water temperature, and he denies ever having been notified of the same. Thus there are factual issues raised in the moving papers submitted by defendant health system which preclude summary judgment.
Continue reading

Published on:

A man was working as a construction worker on June 24, 1983. He was on the tenth floor of a building. He lost his balance while at that height. He fell and hit a concrete floor below. He injured his head and he lost all sensation in both his arms. His Nassau-Suffolk employer paid him temporary total disability until March 15, 1984. After this, his employer paid him temporary partial disability benefits. The construction worker filed a claim for catastrophic loss benefits. When he recovered from the head injury, the construction worker still had no feeling in both his arms. He could not move his arms or do his customary work as a construction worker.

Two months after the accident the construction worker consulted a neurosurgeon. The neurosurgeon found that the reason for the numbness in his arms is that he had a spinal cord injury. The bones of his spine were compressing on his nerves causing the loss of sensation to his two arms. The neurosurgeon performed two surgeries in September and October 1983 to correct the compression. He removed the bone which was causing the compression on his spinal cord. He did not touch or repair the nerves, just the bone. After the surgeries, the man gained strength in his arms but three fingers on each hand still did not have any feeling. He was able to do simple and light chores at home but he was unable to continue with his work as a construction worker.

Four months after the surgery, the man was still experiencing pain, tingling, numbness and weakness in his fingers and hands. The neurosurgeon determined that these were not due to damage or compression to the nerves but were now only orthopedic in nature. He certified that the construction worker can go back to work but with limits. He cannot do any lifting, or do heavy construction work or work at elevations.

During the neurosurgeon’s testimony he said that the construction worker did not have any lesion in the nerves of his spine. Instead, he said that the construction worker suffered from an unstable neck due to the injury he sustained from his fall at the job site. When he moved his neck a certain way, he would experience tingling and loss of sensation in some part of his arms and hands. This meant that his neck bone was compressing on his nerves in the neck area of his spine. For this reason, the neurosurgeon relieved the pressure in his neck by removing the bone that was compressing on the nerves. He also rendered an opinion that because of the unstable neck of the construction worker, he would no longer be able to do any construction work whatsoever.

Because of the neurosurgeon’s testimony, the deputy commissioner awarded catastrophic benefits amounting to $400 weekly beginning June 24, continuing for 26 weeks. The commissioner based his ruling on the fact that the man suffered from an unstable neck and would be unable to use his arms to do any kind of activity. He then ruled that because the man was unable to use both his arms until the surgical intervention, he finds that the construction worker must have suffered nerve damage and trauma to his nervous system. He ruled that the construction worker was entitled to catastrophic benefits.

The employer appealed this finding. The only question is whether or not he is entitled to catastrophic benefits for the loss of the use of both his arms.

The Court reversed the commissioner’s order. The Court ruled that catastrophic benefits can be awarded only if there is organic damage to the nerves; if there are any lesions or injury or trauma to the nerves off the spine. There being no trauma to the nerves in this case as testified to by the neurosurgeon, the construction worker is not entitled to catastrophic benefits.
Continue reading

Published on:

The 1978 case of a white-haired man arrived at the Circuit Court one morning. The man entered the courtroom to testify in his $1 million lawsuit he filed against Edward H. White II Memorial Hospital.

He filed the lawsuit because he fell out of bed while admitted in the facility. The 50-year-old man claimed that the hospital staff was negligent when they left the railing down on his hospital bed. When he fell, he suffered a spinal injury.

The hospital refuted those claims and said that the patient had raised such a ruckus about having it up that they lowered it – against hospital policy – in order to hopefully prevent another coronary episode in the gentleman.

According to a doctor who practices in Queens and Staten Island and who has researched the case, the courtroom allowed special privileges to the injured man. For example, the Circuit Court Judge told the plaintiff that it was not necessary to raise his right hand when he was sworn in, because of his condition. The man was also allowed to sit in a chair in front of the jury to help him avoid the two small stairs into the testimony box.

While on the stand (in the chair), the plaintiff’s hands continually moved “as if he was trying to wake them up or remove something from their tips,” a report of the trial stated.

The 50-year-old man has told his attorney that he does not remember much of what happened to him in the hospital. He also explained his hands’ movements near the end of his testimony. He said that he thinks the movements go on when he’s not aware as his body’s way of attempting to ease the pain and discomfort which enveloped his entire body and was not helped by medicine. He said, “There is a burning, prickling sensation of the skin. It is like my body or skin is on fire, particularly in my hands. They almost constantly feel like they are going to burst open or burn up.”

The hospital tried to settle for $150,000, but the plaintiff wanted at least $400,000 and was expected to ask for upwards of $1 million dollars if the trial eventually went to trial.
Continue reading

Published on:

As part of our search for spinal cord injury information, a source has learned that these types of injuries are fairly common in parts of Nevada. One of the local hospitals that treats an increasing number of spinal cord injuriesis at Renown Regional Medical Center, which is located in northern Nevada, and is the areas only trauma center that is comparable to a larger area hospital.

One of the reasons for the number of spinal cord injuries in this area is due to most of these injuries occurring due to skiing accidents and the local businesses do not want the negative publicity that a skiing accident can be so severe. With that being the case, the local news stations do not report the accidents. There are so many skiing related accidents that the doctors who perform spinal surgeries in this area, actually “handle more surgeries per ski lift than anywhere else in the world.” There are reportedly about 60 to 80 spinal cord injuries a year in this area. This is a rather alarming claim by anyone’s standards.

Not all of the injuries are related to skiing, however. At least one person required a spine operation following a snowmobile accident. Most of the spinal cord injuries in this area are snow-related. This would not happen in Long Island or Manhattan.

Many of the spinal cord injuries in this area happen to visitors to the area. While the mention of a spinal cord injury brings thoughts of several weeks or months in rehab, there are many who leave the area within a few weeks of their accidents. Some patients, for example, have spinal injuries that are not as severe and are able to receive their treatment and rehab as an outpatient. It should be noted at this point that insurance plays a significant role in the treatment, as many insurance plans limit the amount of coverage provided for out of state treatment. It is these patients that receive rehab that lasts an average of about 30-days, and they must then return to their home and locate their own care provider.
Continue reading

Contact Information