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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
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    5

    Default Is it a Good Idea to Get a Spinal Cord Stimulator for a Back Injury

    My workers compensation claim was made in the State of: GEORGIA

    Let me start out by saying that I do have WC attorney. I live in FL, accident occurred in NY, but I was hired and paid out of GA..... So, this is a GA claim. I am told GA is one of the worst states for WC. The accident happened Jan 2013. I was working with this company as a ladder assist. I was sent where the storms had hit and basically access damages, mark damage, take pictures, diagrams and notes for the adjustor that I would meet on site. This particular storm was hurricane Sandy FYI. I was employed 3 months before accident and had made $26,000.

    The morning of the accident, freezing cold... 8 am, snow and ice on the roof. While I was on the roof, I recognized it was very unsafe. The entire slab on shingles broke loose. I immediately went to my butt to try to stop, but the pitch of the roof was to steep. All I did was gain SPEED! Got to the end of the roof, tried to catch my ladder... needless to say, I missed! I fell 25 feet, which would be no big deal(I'm 5'11 230lbs and always though I was indestructible). I landed on a garden stake(a dull ass garden stake 2X2, that one might use to support tomato plants} The stake impaled my body! Went in left side, all the way through and in the pictures, you can see it almost penetrating the skin on the right side. By the grace of GOD, it missed every major organ and artery. It clipped my colon and appendix, which the Doctors removed. They had to make an 9 inch incision to remove the stake. So, I have a HUGE scar 9 inches long by 2 inches wide on my stomach. Every Doctor has told me, I should be DEAD and that it is a miracle I am ALIVE!!!!.

    I shattered my hip, have severe nerve damage throughout my left side. Lower back is screwed up. I have already had surgery on L4 & L5. My right hand was broke in 3 places. I had surgery on that wrist, where the Doctors removed 3 bones. They want to look at the left wrist because of the swelling, think it is arthritis because of the way I landed and hyper-extended it.

    My question is this: They want me to get the Spinal Cord Stimulator. Most pain is in back, leg, hip , both wrists and top of left foot.. from nerve damage. I have already had the 5 day trial. I really didn't like it. But, if this will make my case worth more money. I WILL DO IT! And it did offer some relieve, just not as much as I was hoping. My medical bills are costing QBE some $$$. I am on Hydrocodone 10, Nucynta(which is $750/ month, its a scheduled 2 time released pain med), Gabapentin(nerve damage), Topiramate(nerve damage, Tizanidine(muscle relaxer) and Bupropion(Depresson/quit smoking) None of these meds really seems to help, the best I feel, is after epidural injections. I get those every 2 months or so, but they wear off quickly. I am still doing PT on wrist, lost a lot of motion. Also, did PT on hip for 8 weeks.

    So, will the Spinal Cord Stimulator help my case financially? Which Doctor is going to tell me what extent I am disable? (Pain Management, Back DR, Wrist DR, PT) When will they give me the test and what does it entail? How much money do you think this case could be worth? I was 43 years old when accident happened, will be 46 in August. I make $ 500/week because that is max fro WC in GA.

    Also, I know that I can not sue my employer. Can I sue the homeowners insurance, the same company that used me as an independent contractor? Honestly, I was not trained at all, was not OSHA certified, never trained on safety equipment, or even offered safety equipment. And when I was trained in Georgia( one day, on 3 houses) , it sure wasn't on homes thatwere dangerous and in weather conditions that severe. I know I can't get pain and suffering from WC, but it just seems to me, I might have a case another route as well.

    Please help with any comments, advise or experiences that anyone could offer me. I would greatly appreciate any assistance!

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
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    26

    Default Re: Expert Advise or Experience with WC

    I'm not sure if it will add to your case but once they put the permanent one in your going to need treatment on that for rest of your life for battery to be changed and if the leads move out of place. Once the leads are in then scar tissue will help keep them in place but if you ever want it to be removed they won't be able to take the leads out because they will be stuck to the tissue in your back. Good luck with your decision. I had the trial done and it didn't help me good enough to get permanent. Maybe someone who did can shed more light on it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 1971
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    4,989

    Default Re: Expert Advise or Experience with WC

    I would advise against any implant, you're signing up for problems.
    As stated, those things need periodic maintenance, which requires surgery.
    If you settle your case, you may be on the hook for thousands of dollars in future medical.

    Those stimulators loose affect after a few years, your brain learns the patterns of stimulation and adjusts accordingly, they no longer mask the pain.
    After years of pain, your mind will learn to tolerate it - years down the road you may be able to survive without treatments.

    I doubt it will add to your claim - your claim is based on Impairment Ratings and loss of earning capacity anything else is a non - issue.
    We do have a fine attorney who contributes the Georgia Forum, hopefully he'll weigh in and give further insights.
    This thread should be in the Georgia forum, you'd probably get more responses - let me know if you want it moved.

    Take Care
    Tony
    Moderator Responses are based on my personal bias, experience and research - They do not represent the views of the admin nor may be accepted in the legal community, always consult an attorney.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
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    5

    Default Re: Expert Advise or Experience with WC

    Well Thank you for the response guys, I didn't think it helped all that much, it just constantly shocks you, and of course that is going to take your mind off the pain. I jut thought because the IC approved me for the Stimulator, it would make my settlement worth much more money! Damn, now I really do not know what to do.

    Tony- Yes, I would like this thread moved. I didn't know what I was doing. Also, is there any way to put a pic of this? It should be on that crazy ER TV show?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 1971
    Posts
    4,989

    Default Re: Expert Advise or Experience with WC

    Quote Quoting HODGEY View Post
    Well Thank you for the response guys, I didn't think it helped all that much, it just constantly shocks you, and of course that is going to take your mind off the pain. I jut thought because the IC approved me for the Stimulator, it would make my settlement worth much more money! Damn, now I really do not know what to do.

    Tony- Yes, I would like this thread moved. I didn't know what I was doing. Also, is there any way to put a pic of this? It should be on that crazy ER TV show?
    Not sure if the admin enabled users to post pics, I think we got the jist.
    I'll move this to the Georgia Forum - see ya there, we're gone.

    Tony
    Moderator Responses are based on my personal bias, experience and research - They do not represent the views of the admin nor may be accepted in the legal community, always consult an attorney.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
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    5

    Default Re: Expert Advise or Experience with WC

    Tony- Thank you for your input! Really do not know what I'm going to do know. Just thought since I was approved for the stimulator that my $$ might have went up! And YES please move the thread. I didn't know how to get started on this site.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
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    26

    Default Re: Expert Advise or Experience with WC

    Yeah every time I coughed , sneezed, or even cleared my throat I would get shocked . It wasn't a pleasant feeling to say the least! The company even pushed me to get the permanent one even though I didn't get good results!! They were like used car salesmen and wouldnt take the answer no! Don't let them push you to do it if it didn't help . They must make a good amount of money pushing these units. Just sharing my experience

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Expert Advise or Experience with WC

    Yeah Ralphy176, everytime I coughed or moved ...... SHOCKED!!!!!!!! It SUX really. So with the IC approving the Stimulator and I do not take it, seems that would make the settlement offer go higher. That surgery is $ 115,000! Then all the maintenance. And really, after reading many of these posts WC is a Horror story. So, when and who will give me a rating? And if I have multiple issues, how is that factored in the equation? How will they determine how "disabled" I am?

    And most importantly, can I hold the homeowners insurance accountable? Can I sue Liberty Mutual for putting me in that unsafe situation, without being truly qualified or experienced in that situation? Pain and Suffering? Anything here? It seems WC is a nightmare!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Atlanta
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: Expert Advise or Experience with WC

    HODGEY,

    I'm sorry about your situation, and you are lucky to be alive for sure. I'm a GA WC atty and will share some thoughts. You mentioned that you have a lawyer, have you asked these questions to him/her? They should know your case better than anyone and should be able to explain everything to you. Having said that, here are some general thoughts based on my 20+ years of experience (Disclaimer: I am not representing you and this is not legal advice specific to your situation):

    A permanent SCS implant surgery will probably not cost the insurer $115k. They are expensive, but not that expensive. Also, medical fees/costs in WC cases are capped by GA law, so WC insurers end up paying far less than what you or I would pay for the same service. Under WC, the cost of the initial permanent implant is closer to 20k. Then typically every 5-7 years, you may need a new procedure to swap the battery, which is much less expensive (I believe around 5-7k each time). So, over your lifetime, you may approach the 100k mark for total SCS treatment and revisions, but you won't hit it on the initial implant.

    Now, here's the thing about SCS. They've been around long enough for INS to learn that most (not all, but most) of the people who get them do NOT keep them for life. A lot of folks have experiences like what you and others have described above. They either don't like them or they become less effective over time or whatever. So, most people won't keep them in. Because of that, the INS won't pay you "full value" towards a settlement for what that treatment would have cost them over your lifetime. Liberty Mutual (and particularly Travelers) have been playing chicken with folks on these units for a while now. Basically, they say "Go ahead and get the SCS it if you want it. We'll pay for it under WC, but we won't just give you the money for it in a settlement."

    As a side note (for the benefit of others), you are fortunate that your accident happened when it did. In GA, accidents occurring before 7/1/13 have lifetime medical benefits. Accidents occurring on or after 7/1/13 only have medical benefits for 400 weeks from the accident date, unless it is a catastrophic injury -- the cap does not apply to those.

    Probably the best use of a SCS recommendation is to try and puff a higher settlement. The recommendation alone will get you some higher settlement offer usually, but don't expect it to add 115k to your settlement value, because it won't.

    I don't think you mentioned whether you are on SSDI or have applied for it. If you are (or have), then the SCS recommendation can greatly complicate the ability to ever settle your case because you will have to deal with a MSA. Medicare/CMS is so onerous with regard to SCS recommendations that it often inflates the cost of a MSA so high that it's difficult to get the case settled. Definitely talk to your lawyer about that before you apply.

    Regarding whether you can sue the homeowner's insurance, probably not at this point. GA has a 2 year statute of limitations on personal injury claims. If your accident was in January 2013, you were required to file by January, 2015. If you haven't already filed a lawsuit, you probably can't -- at least not a personal injury action in Georgia.

    Consider setting an appointment with your lawyer to talk all of this over. Your best course of action may be to (1) delay the SCS implant (but do NOT tell the INS that you don't want it -- if your doctor asks, tell him/her that you are still "considering" it), (2) evaluate whether your case could be designated catastrophic, and then (3) look at settlement negotiations.

    Best of luck to you.
    Charles Hamilton

    This post is NOT LEGAL ADVICE, but is for education and information only. Legal advice comes after a complete review of the facts and relevant documents. There is no implied or actual attorney-client relationship arising from this education exchange. You should speak with an attorney licensed in your state, to whom you have provided all the facts before you take steps that may impact your legal rights.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Expert Advise or Experience with WC

    CCHCP-

    THANK YOU SIR, FOR YOUR ADVICE/INPUT. My lawyer says that all the medical treatments, surgeries, PT, etc. have to run it's course before negotiation's begin. And I have to contact him every month to contact adjustor to approve my meds. Just trying to get other input because I feel he has done nothing but email my adjustor a few times and talk on the phone with me a little. He sure hasn't advised me on anything!

    In reference to the personal injury claim, the accident happened in New York, would I need to contact NY attorney? That sucks if it is to late, because I did call an attorney 2 years ago and explained this and all he said was that I could not sue my employer.

    I am not on SSDI. I am getting the TTD payday of 500/week. The other question, is who determines how disabled I am? Which doctor? (Pain Mgmt, Back Surgeon, Wrist Surgeon, PT) And when will I take this test? What does it entail? And how do they factor in multiple injuries? How can I find out if my case is catastrophic? Sorry for all the questions, but you have been more helpful than anyone to me thus far! THANK YOU in advance

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