Types of Workers' Compensation Injuries in Peoria, Illinois
During the course of Mr. Lesaganich’s 32 years as a workers’ compensation trial lawyer, he has encountered a wide variety of work-related injuries including the effects of on-the-job accidents, the effects of work repetitive in nature, as well as death claims and occupational disease act business. The following is intended to be a snapshot view of some of the more common injuries the office of John Lesaganich, P.C., Attorney at Law, has encountered:
Repetitive Trauma Injuries
A common repetitive trauma injury is carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is the result of compression of the median nerve at the wrist, as it travels with the flexor tendons through the carpal tunnel producing the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome which are characterized by bouts of pain and sensations of numbness, prickling, or tingling (parenthesis) in the wrist and the thumb and the first three digits of the hand.
The shaded areas of Figure 1 indicate the areas of median nerve innervations which refers to the path of the median nerve through the hand. Figure 2 is an anatomical drawing of the actual path of the median nerve as it passes under the transverse carpal ligament.
Figures 1 and 2 can be the result of blunt trauma to the area of the carpal tunnel. But, most commonly we see carpal tunnel syndrome as the result of the effects of work forceful and repetitive. Once work-related carpal tunnel syndrome begins, it can be progressive in nature if the injured worker continues at his job without appropriate medical care. Sleep disturbance is an indication of such a progression of carpal tunnel syndrome. There are both conservative and surgical methods to treat carpal tunnel syndrome. Many surgeons insist on pre-surgical testing including electrodiagnostic testing including electroneuromyography and nerve conduction velocity studies (EMG/NCV). However, Mr. Lesaganich has handled claims where despite negative nerve testing, surgery remained the best option for treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome. Systemic disorders such as diabetes and hypothyroidism can contribute to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome.
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Spinal Cord Injuries
Injuries to the spinal cord are recognized by the Arbitrators of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission as injuries to the person as a whole. See the figures below which are intended to familiarize the reader with the anatomical position and composition of the cervical (neck), thoracic (mid-back), and lumbar (low back) areas of the human spinal cord.
Most typically work-related injuries to the spinal column are traumatic. That is to say that they are the result of an event traceable to a singular time, place, and cause. However, the spinal column can be the subject of repetitive trauma law providing the injured worker can establish his burden of proof with credible expert medical testimony that the spinal cord injury is indeed the result of work repetitive in nature. However, be advised that some Arbitrators seem to apply the law of repetitive trauma more strictly to the spinal column than to the human wrist and elbow.
X-rays of the spinal column post work-related injury or manifestation are of limited diagnostic quality. That is to say that they don’t tell us that much. Rather, a more in-depth look inside can be accomplished with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRIs can now be performed in both a closed and open setting given the body composition of the injured worker. Other studies which can also provide valuable diagnostic information to your medical provider(s) include Computerized Tomography/Myelogram (CT/Myelogram) which is an invasive study requiring the injection of contrast material.
Conservative measures can help a spinal cord injury. Certain medications coupled with appropriate physical therapy can be of help. Epidural steroid injection(s) can also be of great help. But, of course, should those conservative measures fail and should the injured workers’ symptomology remain to a degree that it is deemed surgical there are a variety of procedures aimed at relieving you from the effects of your work-related spinal cord injuries.
Spinal cord surgery is serious stuff. Mr. Lesaganich with 32 years of experience practicing workers’ compensation law out of Peoria, Illinois has provided him with an informed perception of the medical community enabling him to assist with the selection of a surgeon appropriate for each individual case. At John Lesaganich, P.C., Attorney at Law, we want you to heal with dignity and be given the best medical care available.
The human knee joint is often the subject of an on-the-job accident or, to a lesser degree, repetitive trauma manifestation. See Figure 6 which is an anatomical drawing of the human knee joint and the ligaments which stabilize the knee joint.
Typically this office sees medial and or lateral meniscus injuries. The typical mechanism of injury for such knee problems involves twisting the knee. Hyperextension (movement of the foot away from the trunk of the body) can injure the anterior cruciate ligament as can forms of hyperflexion (movement of the foot towards the trunk of the body).
As in the case of spinal cord injuries, plain film x-rays are of limited diagnostic quality with knee injuries. But, just as in the case of spinal cord injuries magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can give us a more informed indication of the nature and extent of knee joint injuries. Knee joint surgeries are now done almost exclusively in an arthroscopic style which is a far less invasive technique than seen in the past.
Primary shoulder problems can be the subject of repetitive trauma law, particularly in the case of prolonged, forceful, and repetitive overhead work. Such injuries can include rotator cuff injuries requiring debridement or repair. The term debridement refers to the removal of frayed tissue leaving only healthy tissue to assist with the function of the shoulder. Rotator cuff repair refers to the procedure necessary in the event of frank tearing of the rotator cuff. If left unattended, such injuries can go on to involve degrees of contraction or separation of one of the four tendons which comprise the human rotator cuff making surgical repair of the cuff more challenging for the surgeon.
Of course, the human shoulder can be subjective of an accident within the meaning of the Workers’ Compensation Act. We see such injuries involving not only rotator cuff tearing but also glenoid labral injuries and impingement syndromes. The diagnostic tool of choice for such injuries includes MRI and, in cases requiring a closer look, MR/Arthrogram can be most helpful. Most shoulder surgeries are done arthroscopically. But, of course there are exceptions. And it will not be much longer before we see shoulder joint replacement as a surgical option for serious primary shoulder problems.
Serious work-related injuries can be life-altering events. Such cases include amputation(s), third-degree total body burns, career-ending injuries, and permanent total disability. In such cases associated psychological and mental problems can develop. In such cases, psychological and psychiatric therapy and/or medication(s) can be necessary. And if such psychological and emotional treatment is reasonable, necessary, and related to the effects of the workers’ compensation injuries, such therapy and/or medication(s) can be payable by the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company in your case.
Section 8(c) of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act deals with compensable disfigurement which has been determined by the Illinois Supreme Court to involve an injury that has disturbed the beauty and symmetry of the body. Disfiguring injuries cannot be settled or arbitrated until the disfigurement is not less than six (6) months old. The standard by which Arbitrators judge whether disfigurement is compensable and its value hinges on whether the Arbitrator believes the disfigurement to be permanent and serious in nature. The aforementioned use of the word permanent refers to the continued presence of the disfigurement not less than 6 (six) months since the date of the accident at issue. The aforementioned use of the word serious refers simply to whether or not the Arbitrator believes the disfigurement to be serious enough to warrant payment pursuant to Section 8(c) of the Act. Customarily Arbitrators view disfigurement from a distance of four to six feet under normal office lighting. Note: for scarring to be the subject of a settlement or Arbitrator’s award it must have been sustained in a compensable area of the body. Those areas of the human body which are the proper subject of a disfigurement settlement or award are limited to the hand, head, face, neck, arm, leg below the knee, or the chest above the auxiliary line. The aforementioned use of auxiliary line refers to an imaginary line from armpit to armpit.
Contact our office to talk with attorney John Lesaganich about your workman’s comp benefits. At our office, initial consultations are always free and confidential. We are located on Main Street in downtown Peoria, across from the courthouse.