Nerves that are located in the brain, spinal chord and throughout the body can become damaged due to trauma, disease or exposure to chemicals or drugs. Damage may occur in a variety of ways and result in a broad range of symptoms.
You may be able to claim compensation for a medical condition involving nerve damage if it resulted from someone else’s negligence or carelessness. Negligence may arise in a variety of settings.
Nerve damage or neuropathy may result from a variety of causes, including:
If you are injured at work, you may be able to claim work injury compensation from your employer. Employers must provide proper and adequate means for employees to carry out their work. This includes:
If you are injured because your employer neglects to provide safe systems of work, equipment or a safe environment, you may be able to sue for personal injury compensation. This includes injuries incurred over a long period of time, late onset injuries, and aggravations of pre-existing injuries.
Examples: Jeff is process worker in a large factory and works eight-hour shifts. His work requires repetitive movements with his arms and hands. His work is never varied or rotated to different tasks. Over a period of time he develops a nerve condition known as carpel tunnel syndrome in his right wrist. Jeff may be able to claim compensation from his employer for his medical condition.
Rick suffers from sciatica pain as a result of a slip and fall incident which occurred at work while he was wearing inappropriate footwear. As a cleaner, Rick is required to wear shoes with good rubber grip, however at the time of the injury he was wearing rubber thongs. Rick may not be able to claim compensation for his injuries as they were due to his own negligence. However, he may be able to apply for Workers Compensation payments while he is off work.
See also: WorkCover Claims
Nerve damage frequently results from trauma sustained in a car accident. Noticeable symptoms of nerve damage following an accident may include: tingling in your arms or legs, pins and needles, abnormal sensitivity and pain, difficulty speaking, lightheadedness, dizziness, paralysis, loss of strength or continence issues.
If you sustain nerve damage due to a car accident and it was totally or partially due to the fault of another driver or vehicle owner you can claim motor vehicle injury compensation from the owner of the vehicle that caused the accident through their Compulsory Third Party insurer.
Examples: Jeff suffers a bulging disc and sciatic nerve damage after he is T-boned at an intersection by another vehicle. Jeff is able to claim compensation for his injuries from the owner of the other car through its CTP insurer.
Rick is texting on his mobile phone while driving and runs into the back of a truck. A few days after the incident Rick experiences pain in his right forearm and numbness, tingling and loss of strength in his right hand. Rick is unable to claim compensation for his injuries because the accident was his fault. (Exceptions apply for catastrophic accidents).
See Also: Motor vehicle injury claims
It is not uncommon for nerves to become damaged during surgical procedures as a result of scalpel cuts, bruising over the nerve, inflammation from surrounding tissue, patient positioning or prolonged contact with rigid surgical equipment. Patients with diabetes, cancer, vitamin deficiencies, or a history of previous nerve injury may be at higher risk. The resultant nerve damage may be temporary or permanent.
You may be able to claim compensation for nerve damage that is caused during surgery if the damage resulted from the negligent actions of a doctor or other medical professional. Not all medical errors are what the law classifies as ‘negligent' and if you experience nerve damage after a surgical procedure you are not automatically or necessarily entitled to compensation.
Medical negligence is a complicated area of law. If you are dissatisfied with the medical treatment you have received, speak with an experienced medical negligence lawyer about your options.
See also: Medical Negligence
The long term impacts of nerve injury can be debilitating and in many cases, full recovery is not possible. It can affect muscle control and movement, and may also cause paralysis or chronic pain. Often these symptoms will never go away and the patient must manage and live with such symptoms long term, severely impacting quality and enjoyment of life.
The emotional impact can also be considerable, especially when patients are living with nerve damage that causes substantial physical limitations, impotency or urinary incontinence.
General damages compensate you for the pain and suffering you have experienced as well as any permanent loss of enjoyment of life as a result of your nerve damage. They are calculated by reference to the ISV Scale which rates the seriousness of any injury between 1 and 100 and accords a monetary value range to that rating.
For example an injury causing quadriplegia has a rating of 75 to 100 and a monetary range of $232,600 to $349,400 whereas minor facial nerve damage with minimal paralysis and good repair is rated 0 to 5 with a monetary range of $0 to $6,950.
To diagnose and treat a nerve damage injury you may need to consult your general practitioner, consult a specialist, obtain x-rays or MRIs, take pain medications and wear special braces apparatus. The expenses you incur to obtain medical treatment including costs of consultations, diagnostic scans, travel costs, medication and medical equipment may be claimed as compensation. You can also claim for medical costs you will incur in the future as a result of your injury.
Nerve damage may require surgery to repair severed nerves or relieve pressure on a nerve from surrounding tissue. Surgical or hospital costs paid by you can be claimed as compensation as long as the surgery was necessary to treat your condition.
Rehabilitation following nerve damage may involve physiotherapy, home and vehicle modifications and ergonomic aids. Your reasonable costs of rehabilitation can be claimed back as compensation.
If you suffer from nerve damage you may need time off work for several weeks or months. You can claim compensation for this lost income.
If your injury prevents you from working in the future to the same extent as you did prior to the injury you may also be able to claim loss of future income earning capacity. This is usually estimated as a lump sum figure based on the age of the person, their usual occupation and other skills.
Compensation can be claimed for superannuation that would have been paid on lost income.
Serious head or brain injuries may prevent you from being able to perform tasks such as personal care, cleaning, laundry, mowing your lawns, caring for the garden or other domestic chores. If you formerly performed these duties but are now unable to as a result of an injury, you can claim compensation for care and assistance provided to you by friends, relatives or paid contractors.
In Queensland there is a minimum threshold for this type of compensation.
Interest can generally be claimed on compensation for any ‘out of pocket’ expenses that are incurred before your claim is resolved.
In general terms, the amount of compensation is gauged by comparing what your life was like before the injury and what it is like now as a result of the injury. Therefore, someone whose injury has had a greater impact on their life will be entitled to more compensation than someone whose injury has had only minimal impact.
The amount of compensation payable for an injury will vary greatly from case to case, depending on a variety of variables such as:
For most personal injury claims, a legal action must be commenced within three years of the date of the injury. If you miss this deadline, your claim will be statute barred and you will lose all rights to claim compensation.
However, depending on where your injury occurred or who you are suing, specific pre-court procedures may apply which have their own time limits which are much sooner. If you miss these time limits you may lose your right to pursue your claim if you cannot provide sufficient reasons to the court as to why you delayed and why you should be allowed to proceed with your claim. The time limits specified by some pre-court procedures are set out below.
For minors, the obligation to serve the other party with a Notice of Claim begins when the child turns 18, however a parent or guardian may do this on behalf of the minor before they turn 18.
In the case of medical negligence claims, a parent or legal guardian of a minor must serve a Notice of Claim within six years of the day when the parent or guardian knew or ought to have known of the injury.
Depending on the nature of your injury and the circumstances which caused it, compensation may or may not be available. You should always seek expert legal help to see if you are able to make a claim.
It’s important to get advice for your specific situation. Check if you can make a risk-free compensation claim and get free initial advice from our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.
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