Category Archives: FAQ Personal Injury

Harley-Davidson Roars into Milwaukee for 115th Anniversary

This Labor Day weekend marks the 115th anniversary of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles. With their distinctive “potato-potato-potato” idle and rumble, thousands of riders and their Harleys have roared into Milwaukee this week to celebrate 115 years of an American tradition.

Harley-Davidson and the Harley-Davidson Museum have packed each day this weekend with events. There are museum tours, motorcycle demos, live music acts, street parties, and many more events. Visit Harley-Davidson.com for a full schedule of events

Harley-Davidson Roars into Milwaukee for 115th Anniversary.

The celebration is not without dangers though. With all the extra bikes on the road, Milwaukee’s streets and highways have many more smaller moving vehicles on them this weekend than usual.

Drivers who aren’t used to large numbers of bikes on the road may miss the smaller Harleys if they aren’t careful and some riders may find traveling alone or in larger groups more difficult depending on what they’re used to. All of this is a recipe for a crash or other traffic accident. But there are things everyone on the road this weekend can do.

To help avoid accidents and injuries this weekend, both riders and drivers should:

  • Watch out for each other – check your mirrors and be aware of your surroundings
  • Obey traffic laws and directions from the Officers and Sheriff’s Deputies directing traffic
  • Park in designated spots near events
  • Wear your seatbelt or helmet
  • As always, don’t drink and drive or ride

Have a safe and happy Labor Day weekend and enjoy all that the 115th anniversary of Harley-Davidson has to offer! If the unthinkable happens and you or a loved one is involved in a crash and injured, see a doctor and contact a skilled, dedicated, and proven personal injury attorney to discuss your options as a victim of a crash. At Groth Law Firm, S.C., we are available 24/7 to discuss your injuries and offer a free consultation. Call or text us today at 414-395-8976

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice. It is not medical advice and should not be used as medical advice. The legal statutes, laws, and procedures contained in this article may not be current and may have been revised since the time of publication or contain errors. An attorney can provide legal guidance only after reviewing the details of your individual case.

The Hop’s Hot New Tracks Aren’t So Hip

Two people have already been injured trying to cross the tracks of Milwaukee’s newest transit option, The Hop, in less than a week. One man was driving a motorcycle over the tracks when his wheel got stuck in the tracks throwing him from his bike on August 10th. And on the 16th, a woman was crossing the tracks on a bicycle when her wheel also got stuck and threw her to the ground, injuring her ribs and elbows. Both riders are considering suing the city because of their injuries and have retained lawyers to represent them.[1]

The Hop is not yet in operation at the time of writing, but its tracks have been laid throughout Milwaukee in some of the city’s busiest areas. The Hop runs from the Historic Third Ward and Intermodal train station up to the Lower East Side of Milwaukee and back. This route puts the street car’s tracks in the path of several of Milwaukee’s major commuter hot spots.[2]

The Hop’s New Tracks (City of Milwaukee)

©City of Milwaukee

Before the two bike crashes in August, there had already been several reports of less serious injuries, including one in June, sparking concern amongst the city’s cyclists.[3]

Through there are several signs near the tracks warning bikers and cyclists to take the tracks at a right angle – meaning to cross straight over the tracks—this is not always possible for people riding two wheeled bikes and motorcycles in heavy downtown traffic. With two crashes on the tracks in less than a week and the Hop not even running yet, there are likely to be more injuries in the future.

On top of the tracks’ risk to cyclists in warmer months, there is also concern that they will be a slipping hazard in Milwaukee’s common winter and spring storms as snow piles up on the roads.[4]

The Hop and its tracks are owned by the City of Milwaukee. As with any claim against a city, or other municipality, someone who is injured by the city or its property only has 120 days to file a Notice of Claim or they will never be able to bring a lawsuit against the city no matter how badly injured they are. Because of this, it is extremely important to contact an attorney as soon as possible after an injury involving the city.

If you or a loved one has been injured by The Hop or its tracks, see a doctor and contact a skilled, dedicated, and proven personal injury attorney to discuss your options as a victim of a crash. At Groth Law Firm, S.C., we are available 24/7 to discuss your injuries and offer a free consultation. Call or text us today at 414-375-2030

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice. It is not medical advice and should not be used as medical advice. The legal statutes, laws, and procedures contained in this article may not be current and may have been revised since the time of publication or contain errors. An attorney can provide legal guidance only after reviewing the details of your individual case.

[1] https://fox6now.com/2018/08/16/frustrated-2nd-person-could-be-suing-city-after-accident-they-say-was-caused-by-streetcar-tracks/

[2] https://thehopmke.com/

[3] https://www.tmj4.com/news/local-news/-the-hop-milwaukee-streetcar-tracks-raises-bicycle-safety-concerns

[4] https://urbanmilwaukee.com/2015/03/31/a-short-history-of-milwaukees-old-streetcar-system/2/

Living the American Dream…Or Not

Wisconsin Litigation Attorney

Wisconsin Personal Injury Attorneys

Being involved in an accident can quickly turn your life upside down. Most people hope to recover as quickly as possible and get back to a normal lifestyle free of pain. They do not want to spend their time with doctors and therapists when they could be enjoying time with loved ones.

But what happens if, even after you have “recovered” from your injuries, you are unable to do all of the things you were able to do before the crash? Unfortunately, there are often situations where people are not able to return to the type of lifestyle that they led prior to an accident, especially as it pertains to their work life. This is a claim that should be accounted for before accepting a settlement, but certain things must be done to be able to prove any type of future claim.

The goal of most insurance companies is to pay the least amount possible as soon as possible to limit their exposure on a claim. While an insurance company may consider past wage loss in a settlement offer if proper documentation is provided, the company will not consider what the future holds for an injured victim unless certain things are done to prove that the victim is no longer able to continue working in his or her former capacity due to the accident or injury.

What if the injuries sustained render it very difficult, or even impossible, to return to one’s pre-accident employment in the fullest capacity? If an injured person cannot provide the necessary documentation to substantiate a future wage loss or a loss of earning capacity in the future, he or she will not be compensated for these items that can potentially have a dramatic impact on their future. Frankly, many people who are in a rush to settle their claim may not even think of the future. Most people simply want to return to normalcy and put this devastating experience behind them, but it is important to make sure that you are not only covered for the past, but for the future as well.

To objectively establish an individual’s ability to perform physical, work-related tasks, one must usually undergo a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE). An FCE “evaluates an individual’s capacity to perform work activities related to his or her participation in employment.” Oftentimes, the examiner also compares the results to a specific job to determine whether the individual can continue to work in his or her current capacity given the specific duties of the particular job. In many cases, the examiner will have the individual perform the exact duties he or she does on the job to get the most accurate results possible. FCEs also aid treating doctors in determining what types of work restrictions to place on the individual to ensure safety given the injuries sustained.

Along with one’s ability to physically perform tasks, we may want to measure one’s ability to earn as well. This is typically done in the context of an Earning Capacity Evaluation (ECE). An ECE will “determine the evaluee’s skills, abilities, aptitudes, physical and mental capacities, interest and values, and will identify appropriate job titles with associated salary ranges and access to the labor market.” After a serious accident, individuals are oftentimes unable to handle the demands of the job that he or she held prior to the accident. An ECE helps us establish pre- and post-injury earning capacities and determine one’s new capacity to earn a living given his or her new restrictions and ability to function. A vocational expert doing an ECE takes into consideration the physical and functional factors established during the FCE to determine an individual’s ability to earn.

Together, these types of evaluations help treating physicians appropriately impose restrictions and coordinate care for the injured victim according to their post-accident condition. It is important to have documentation from these types of evaluations to substantiate a claim for future wage loss or loss of earning capacity. Losing the ability to work is one of the most devastating impacts on life that an accident can have. If this happens, it is important to have a team working with you to ensure that you take the right steps toward proving such a claim. The Groth Law Firm will walk with you every step of the way and ensure that your rights and your livelihood are protected. Call us today for a free consultation at (877) 375-7001.
_____________________________________________
i Soer, R., van der Schans, C. P., Groothoff, J. W., Geertzen, J. H., & Reneman, M. F. (2008). Towards consensus in operational definitions in functional capacity evaluation: A Delphi survey. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 18, 389–400.
ii Foundations of Forensic Vocational Rehabilitation, Rick H. Robinson, 2014.

Uber and Lyft Injuries: Who Pays?

Uber and Lyft are everywhere. Most major US cities have drivers for at least one of these two ride-sharing companies. Uber operates in cities from Abilene to Zacatecas – including Milwaukee.

Uber and Lyft Injuries.. Who Pays?

One of the most common concerns that riders have is who pays for their injuries if they’re hurt by or while riding in an Uber or Lyft.

As Uber celebrates one million drivers worldwide and Lyft hits 60 US cities, some still have concerns about using services like Uber or Lyft. One of the most common concerns that riders have is who pays for their injuries if they’re hurt by or while riding in an Uber or Lyft.

Over the holiday weekend, Sean Conley, 32, died at the hospital after the Lyft he was riding in was hit by another car causing a crash on the north side of Milwaukee. According to Conley’s brother, he was taking a Lyft home when another driver hit his Lyft.

For both Uber and Lyft, their drivers carry third party liability coverage of “at least $1 million of total liability coverage.”[1] What does this mean? If you are injured because your car was hit by an on-duty Uber or Lyft driver or you are injured in an Uber or Lyft as a rider—whether the injury is the driver’s fault or the fault of another party—your injuries are covered by the company’s insurance.

With the growing number of ride-sharing cars on the road more and more people are becoming passengers. As a passenger in someone else’s car, your own car insurance might not cover your injuries if an under- or un-insured driver hits you. It is more important than ever to understand your rights as a Lyft or Uber rider.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a Lyft or Uber, contact a skilled, dedicated, and proven personal injury attorney to discuss your options as a victim of a crash.

[1] https://www.uber.com/drive/insurance/, https://help.lyft.com/hc/en-us/articles/115013080548-Insurance-Policy#duringride

 

USA Gymnastics Seeks Dismissal of Lawsuits Related to Larry Nassar

Michigan State University was the first to attempt to distance itself from lawsuits related to Larry Nassar’s sexual misconduct because, according to MSU, Michigan’s statute of limitations blocks the suits. Now, USA Gymnastics is making the same argument.

In briefs it’s filed with the courts, USAG argues that the majority of the claims against it are barred by law because of the statute of limitations.

In Michigan, the statute keeps personal injury suits from being filed three years after the date of the injury for adults and three years after the victim’s nineteenth birthday for injuries as a minor.

Because of the statute, MSU and USAG argue they are not liable for Nassar’s actions because victims waited too long to file suits.

Of the 149 cases against USA Gymnastics currently, USAG claims that at least 101 of them should be dismissed outright simply because the statute of limitations has run out. This means that the court could, if it agrees with USAG, drop the cases of 101 victims of sexual assault.

While Larry Nassar, USA Gymnastics, and Michigan State University have been in the national headlines, here in Wisconsin, James Kivisto, owner and operator of Wind Lake Gymnastics Center in Racine has been charged with ten counts of possession of child pornography.

At least some of the photos and videos may have been taken with a camera Kivisto hid in the girl’s bathroom at the Gymnastics Center. Kivisto has owned the Wind Lake Gymnastics Center for eleven years and has been a gymnastics coach since 1987.

What do the USAG and MSU dismissal attempts mean for Wisconsin victims? It means that it is more important than ever to seek legal representation if you or your child has been a victim of sexual misconduct by a gymnastics coach. In Wisconsin, the statute of limitation for personal injury is three years for adults but ends only two years after a minor victim’s eighteenth birthday.

At Groth Law Firm, S.C., we have a skilled, dedicated, proven, and compassionate team ready to help you seek justice during a difficult and emotional time. If you or your child has been the victim of sexual misconduct by a coach or other trusted trainer, contact us immediately at 414-375-2030, or toll free at 1-800-375-7001

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice. The legal statutes, laws, and procedures contained in this article may not be current and may have been revised since the time of publication or may contain errors. An attorney can provide legal guidance only after reviewing the details of your individual case.

Personal Injury Cases Brought by Undocumented Immigrants

Legal status can sometimes deter many people from starting a possible personal injury claim. Undocumented immigrants often avoid any type of confrontation with the law because of the fear of deportation. Many undocumented immigrants are unaware that they are able to bring their personal injury cases in Wisconsin with less fear of fear possible repercussions.  Although the fear of deportation is reasonable, there are many steps and precautions that can be taken in order to avoid this.

Currently, if an undocumented immigrant were to submit a civil suit, there is no governmental procedure that notifies U.S Immigration Customs (ICE). Also, there doesn’t appear to be a case in which ICE has sought an undocumented individual due to their involvement in a civil suit. If an undocumented immigrant wished to submit a personal injury claim, that should not be a motive to trigger deportation concerns.

ICE is not likely to respond to a report of an undocumented immigrant unless the individual has a criminal record, has been previously deported, or has previously had a visa violation. Although it is true that any individual reported as undocumented is subject to removal, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) mandates the removal of undocumented immigrants who are either a threat to national security, border security, and public safety first. ICE tries to prioritize and ensure the removal of those individuals who are suspected terrorists, were apprehended while trying to enter the country illegally, or those individuals who were convicted of gang-related or felony crimes, before any other undocumented immigrants.

The Supreme Court of Wisconsin has stated that an individual’s legal status has an “obvious and substantial prejudicial effect”, and has prohibited the verification of legal status at trial. If the immigration status of an individual is proved to be relevant, steps can still be taken to protect them, an individual can still prevent the disclosure of his/her immigration status such as a protective order.

In many cases, courts have denied defense requests to uncover information such as addresses, Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, passports and also tax returns. If an individual is undocumented, it is recommended that the judge is alerted of potential prejudice as soon as possible. Open communication and careful preparation can go a long way in order to offer undocumented immigrants the opportunity to pursue their claims.

 

If you think you have been injured as always, please call Groth Law Firm, S.C. at 877-375-7001 with any questions.  We are available 24/7 to discuss your options as the victim of someone else’s negligent actions. Our initial consultations are always free.  Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only.  It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice.  The legal statutes, laws, and procedures contained in this article may not be current and may have been revised since the time of publication or contain errors. An attorney can provide legal guidance only after reviewing the details of your individual case.

Lack Of Mobility Is Isolating

The loss of physical mobility is frightening and generates multiple other complications for the struggling individual. The loss of mobility is often caused by aging but can also be caused by tragic accidents. In either case, lack of mobility has far-reaching consequences not only physically, but also emotionally and socially.

An article published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior states, “Mobility is central to fulfilling needs beyond basic survival, such as social engagement”[1] The article highlights the many repercussions of the lack of physical mobility. One of the negative effects of immobility is reduced social engagement. This connection makes sense when applied to our everyday lives. The places and events we connect with people often require a level of physical mobility to allow us to be present.

Many people live through the disappointment of realizing their inability to attend a football game with friends or go shopping at the mall with their family. These events used to be part of their everyday lives, but with reduced mobility, they become difficult and time-consuming. The thought of slowing down friends and family down as they enjoy life burdens them. To avoid this feeling, they retract themselves from the social interactions they once actively participated in.

Even though society has made great strides in opening venues and events to those with mobility struggles, people often choose to withdraw anyway because of the inherent difficulties of their mobility level.

As the article mentioned above indicates, this sort of retraction from society causes harm to the individual’s social well-being. Relationships are built and maintained by steady interaction, and when that interaction is cut off, the relationship suffers. This effectively renders the individual socially isolated, which on its own is troubling. However, studies show that social isolation has even deeper effects on a person’s well-being.

In 2012, a study was conducted by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that reported, “Reducing both social isolation and loneliness are important for quality of life and well-being.”[2] Engaging in healthy social interaction is a major force in increasing physical well-being and consequently life expectancy.

A study published by Brigham Young University in 2010 reiterates the importance of social interaction with overall health.[3] The study found that those with the strongest social relationships had a 50% higher chance of survival than those without strong social relationships. This data establishes that, “low social interaction harms longevity as much as alcoholism and smoking, has more impact than lack of exercise, and is twice as harmful as obesity.”[4]

Overall, the damaging effects of a lack of mobility extend farther than one would expect. In many cases, the lack of mobility causes a forced withdrawal from society. This withdrawal negatively impacts the individual and potentially shortens their life span. It important for people with mobility struggles to stay engaged with society, family, and friends even when it may be difficult. As humans, we require a certain level of engagement with others to stay healthy.

If you have lost mobility because of an injury as the result of a someone else’s negligence, see a doctor, and, as always, please call Groth Law Firm, S.C. with any questions.  We are available 24/7 to discuss your options as the victim of negligence. Our initial consultations are always free.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice. It is not medical advice and should not be used as medical advice. The legal statutes, laws, and procedures contained in this article may not be current and may have been revised since the time of publication or contain errors. An attorney can provide legal guidance only after reviewing the details of your individual case.

 

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3683993/

[2] http://www.pnas.org/content/110/15/5797#sec-1

[3] http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316

[4] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/196056.php

Life with Chronic Pain can Cause Depression

Life with chronic or long-term pain is difficult and the depression that can accompany long-term pain makes it even worse. “Depression magnifies pain. It makes everyday living more difficult.”[1] Pain is considered chronic or long-term when it lasts beyond what would be expected from the original injury. This kind of pain can cause low energy, depression, and unusually high levels of stress hormones.[2]

Chronic pain can also disrupt sleep and make you more sensitive to other pain. You may even start to hurt in areas that used to feel fine. According to the American Pain Foundation, research shows that around 32 million people in the United States report pain that has lasted for a year or more – that means that one in ten Americans report chronic or long-term pain. Between 25 and 50% of those who talk to their doctors about long-term pain are clinically depressed.[3]

“People with chronic pain have three times the average risk of developing psychiatric symptoms — usually mood or anxiety disorders — and depressed patients have three times the average risk of developing chronic pain.”[4]

Life with Chronic Pain can Cause Depression

“Pain provokes an emotional response in everyone. If you have pain, you may also have anxiety, irritability, and agitation. These are normal feelings when you’re hurting. Usually, as pain subsides, so does the stressful response. But with chronic pain, you may feel constantly tense and stressed. Over time, the stress can result in different emotional problems associated with depression. Some of the problems individuals with both chronic pain and depression have include:”

  • Altered mood
  • Chronic anxiety
  • Decreased self-esteem
  • Family stress
  • Fatigue
  • Fear of injury
  • Financial concerns
  • Physical deconditioning
  • Reduced sexual interest and activity
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Social isolation
  • Weight gain or loss[5]

“Researchers once thought the relationship between pain, anxiety, and depression resulted mainly from psychological rather than biological factors. Chronic pain is depressing, and likewise major depression may feel physically painful. But as researchers have learned more about how the brain works, and how the nervous system interacts with other parts of the body, they have discovered that pain shares some biological mechanisms with anxiety and depression.”[6]

The combination of depression and pain is reflected in the circuitry of the nervous system. Pain goes both ways between the body and the brain. Normally, the brain interrupts the signals of physical discomfort so that we can function. When this shutoff valve is broken, physical sensations, including pain, are more likely to become the center of attention. The pathways of the brain that handle pain, including the brain’s center of emotion, use some of the same pathways for regulating mood. When regulation fails, pain is intensified along with sadness, hopelessness, and anxiety. And chronic pain, like chronic depression, can alter the functioning of the nervous system and make itself worse in a continuing cycle.[7]

From a common-sense view point, “’we know that simply having a bad headache or back pain for a day can affect our mood. Imagine having that pain every day for six months. It’s actually quite reasonable to expect anxiety and depression with chronic pain,’ says pain management specialist Hersimren Basi, MD.”[8]

If you have pain and depression because of an injury as the result of a someone else’s negligence, see a doctor, and, as always, please call Groth Law Firm, S.C. with any questions.  We are available 24/7 to discuss your options as the victim of negligence. Our initial consultations are always free.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice. It is not medical advice and should not be used as medical advice. The legal statutes, laws, and procedures contained in this article may not be current and may have been revised since the time of publication or contain errors. An attorney can provide legal guidance only after reviewing the details of your individual case.

[1] https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-chronic-pain#1

[2] https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-chronic-pain#1

[3] https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-chronic-pain#1

[4] https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/depression-and-pain

[5] https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-chronic-pain#1

[6] https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/the-pain-anxiety-depression-connection

[7] https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/depression-and-pain

[8] https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2017/08/why-chronic-pain-brings-you-down-how-to-feel-better/

Loss of Mobility is Scary

Loss of mobility can be scary. According to researchers at Harvard University Medical school, loss of mobility is not just an inconvenience – it is a major life-altering event. Anyone from the elderly to the physically active can be affected by loss of mobility. Sometimes it is the result of aging, but, just as often, it is because of an injury.

Loss of Mobility is Scary

Loss of mobility “has profound social, psychological, and physical consequences.”[1] These consequences can be emotionally and mentally damaging. Imagine not being able to get up and move in an emergency, or not being able to make a quick trip to the store, or not being able to visit friends or family. Think about how many times a day you get up out of your chair and go to the bathroom, head over to the fridge for a snack, or simply go grab something you need from the other room. Now imagine not being able to do any of those things or being at the mercy of someone else to help you do them.

The consequences of loss of mobility are far-reaching. “Social engagement, the real life activity that results from association with one’s social ties, is important in reinforcing existing social relationships and provides a sense of value and identity,” and the loss of these ties can be scary and isolating for someone who has been injured.[2]

The loss of mobility is such a life-changing and scary thing that there are hundreds of websites and user posts dedicated to dealing with the fear and isolation that comes with the loss of mobility. Researchers pour thousands of dollars and hours into finding ways to help reduce the fear that results from a loss of mobility after an injury.

One study of active individuals showed that, unlike those who could continue their activities, the individuals who were stopped from taking part in activities for as little as two weeks resulted in “significantly greater symptoms of psychological distress, including depression, anxiety, confusion, over-all mood disturbance, and lower self-esteem.”[3]

For a normally active individual, not being able to be active for a little as two weeks can result in depression, anxiety, and lowed self-esteem. Two weeks is enough for depression and anxiety, imagine the effect of a life-time of lost mobility.

According to the Shepheard Center, a non-profit hospital, people who suffer a loss of mobility are likely to go through the same stages of grief as those who have lost a loved one – denial, disbelief, sadness, and anger.[4] Long-lasting or permeant loss of mobility can cause someone the same type of emotional distress—the same sadness and fears—as someone who has lost a loved one.

If you have lost mobility because of an injury as the result of a someone else’s negligence, see a doctor, and, as always, please call Groth Law Firm, S.C. with any questions.  We are available 24/7 to discuss your options as the victim of negligence. Our initial consultations are always free.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice. It is not medical advice and should not be used as medical advice. The legal statutes, laws, and procedures contained in this article may not be current and may have been revised since the time of publication or contain errors. An attorney can provide legal guidance only after reviewing the details of your individual case.

[1] https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/two-questions-can-reveal-mobility-problems-in-seniors-201309186682

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3683993/

[3] http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.2466/pms.1988.66.3.875

[4] https://www.shepherd.org/patient-programs/spinal-cord-injury/after-rehab/adapting-to-loss-of-mobility

Fusions Aren’t Always Final

Fusion surgeries are aimed at eliminating severe pain between bones by fusing them together into a solid bone and making them more stable. Fusion surgeries can be performed on many different joints, including the spine, feet, ankle and wrist, among others. [i] We know that with fusion surgeries, however, the segments of bones next to the fused bones will deteriorate. Arthritis will likely set in, and the probability of future surgeries is increased.

Common risks of fusion surgeries include arthritis in nearby joints[ii] and Adjacent Segment Disease, which is caused by additional stress being transferred to the adjacent joints due to the fused segment losing mobility and becoming stiff.[iii] Oftentimes, these conditions cause more pain and result in the need for additional surgeries.

Researchers have found that adjacent joint arthritis is becoming a real concern for patients following an ankle fusion.[iv] Specifically, they are finding that because the patient’s movement and gait will be altered due to the fused bones, the patient is at risk for exacerbated arthritic degeneration in those adjacent joints.

Many of the fusion surgeries that are performed are on the spinal cord. Spinal fusion surgeries are procedures that are used to fix problems with the vertebrae, or small bones that make up the spine. Fusions are used to treat longstanding issues, such as spinal stenosis or degenerative disk disease, but they are also used to treat newer issues, like fractures or tumors, as well. Doctors often recommend spinal fusion surgeries after an individual has been involved in a serious accident which caused a fracture in their spine that cannot be fixed by non-surgical methods like physical therapy or pain management.

The fusion itself has been compared to a “welding” process as the goal of the procedure is to fuse all of the painful bones together so that they heal into a single, solid bone. [v] To connect the discs, surgeons can use hardware, like screws or rods, to keep the discs from moving. Sometimes surgeons also use pieces of bone, called a bone graft, to fuse the discs together. The purpose of the fusion is to permanently connect the vertebrate to eliminate the motion between them, which should then theoretically also eliminate the pain. [vi]

Fusions are typically ordered as a last resort because the procedures themselves are invasive and, like many other serious procedures, they come with a series of risk factors and negative consequences. As noted earlier, one of the most well-known consequences of spinal fusions is Adjacent Segment Disease.

The development of Adjacent Segment Disease (“ASD”) is one of the biggest risk factors associated with a spinal fusion surgery.  A daunting statistic for spinal fusion candidates is that within fifteen years of having a fusion, there is a 40% chance that they will need additional surgery due to ASD.[vii] Spinal surgeries cause stiffening in the fused segments, which results in added stress on the discs both above and below the fusion. ASD occurs because the adjacent, non-fused discs experience abnormal loads and movement causing them to work harder to compensate for the immobilized vertebrae that has been fused. As a result of the added stress, those adjacent vertebrae begin to rapidly weaken and deteriorate.

Not only is there a likelihood that a fusion patient may develop arthritis and experience more rapid degeneration in the adjacent spinal levels, there are a host of other risk factors patients need to be cognizant of. While fusions are aimed at eliminating pain, chronic pain is a common complaint of fusion patients. In fact, one in three spinal fusion patients report back pain within seven years of their surgery. [viii] Many factors, including nerve damage, implant failure and joint degeneration can cause chronic pain following a fusion. Astoundingly, one third of fusion patients lose the benefits of the surgery within ten years,[ix] resulting in the need for more surgery in many cases. These statistics are why surgeons are hesitant to operate on young patients. It seems that the consensus on fusions is that if the procedure is performed properly, it can significantly enhance the quality of life of a patient, but oftentimes, only for so long.

At Groth Law Firm, we have worked with many clients that have undergone fusion surgeries. We also have a network of doctors and surgeons that have educated us on the risks and benefits of fusion surgeries so that we are better equipped to serve our clients who have undergone, or will undergo, a fusion. If you have been seriously injured and are facing a serious surgery as a result of someone else’s negligence, give us a call at (877) 375-7001 so that we can make sure your rights are protected.

[i] https://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/guide/joint-fusion-surgery#1

[ii] https://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/guide/joint-fusion-surgery#1

[iii] https://deukspine.com/conditions-we-treat/adjacent-segment-disease/

[iv] http://lermagazine.com/article/adjacent-joint-arthritis-after-ankle-arthrodesis

[v] https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/spinal-fusion/

[vi] https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/spinal-fusion/about/pac-20384523

[vii] https://www.balancedback.com/blog/adjacent-segment-disease

[viii] https://www.treatingscoliosis.com/blog/long-term-effects-scoliosis-treatments/

[ix] https://www.treatingscoliosis.com/blog/long-term-effects-scoliosis-treatments/