Spinal Cord Stimulator
Spinal Cord Stimulators are being increasingly used to treat Jones Act seamen and commercial fishermen suffering from chronic pain as a result of low back injuries. Maritime injury lawyer James Beard has been helping injured seamen get treatment for chronic pain for nearly his entire legal career. Beard will work with your chronic pain specialist to get you the authorization you need from the insurance company for chronic pain treatment. Spinal cord stimulators are expensive, but they can give life and hope back to an injured seaman who is being tortured by chronic pain.
Because you are being considered for treatment with a spinal cord surgery, you likely have already undergone spinal surgery once and possibly twice. If these surgeries have not relieved your chronic pain, your pain specialist may recommend a spinal cord stimulator. Spinal cord stimulators block pain signals to decrease the injury victim’s pain and make them more functional. In most cases, before implanting a permanent spinal cord stimulator, a temporary spinal cord stimulator is implanted to determine whether or not the chronic pain patient will benefit from the permanent device.
If your pain specialist doctor has recommended you be treated with a spinal cord stimulator, it is recommended that you immediately seek the help of an experienced maritime lawyer to protect your rights to treatment under Federal maritime laws. Deciding whether to have treatment with a spinal cord stimulator is a big decision. Spinal cord stimulator treatment is not for everyone and should be considered only in cases of severe pain and disability.
You should carefully discuss with your pain management doctor the benefits you may receive from a spinal cord stimulator versus the risks. Many patients report significant pain relief following the implanting of a spinal cord stimulator and, like most medical procedures, there are some risks associated with the treatment. The spinal cord stimulator procedure has been performed in the United States and Canada for 30 years. Many pain specialist doctors in the best hospitals in the United States perform the procedure. Medicare currently approves the use of spinal cord stimulators in patients who have tried other appropriate treatments and have been appropriately screened.
Injury victims being treated with spinal cord stimulators have ongoing yearly costs associated with the treatment. Before implanting a permanent spinal cord stimulator, there must be discussions and planning about how future medical costs will be paid for the injured crewman suffering from chronic pain. Annual costs currently associated with spinal cord stimulators have been estimated by various services to run in the $5,000 to $8,000 per year range depending upon where you live, whether your case involves complications, and what follow-up treatment is provided. Currently, the batteries for spinal cord stimulators need to be replaced every 2-5 years. The future costs of spinal cord stimulator treatment should always be discussed with the pain specialist before the procedure is performed.
Obtaining a lump sum settlement or a judgment that includes the future costs of your spinal cord stimulator treatment may be the only way to ensure funds are available to cover your future medical costs. There is no guarantee that your employer at the time of your maritime injury will still be in existence five or ten years from now to pay for the ongoing costs of your spinal cord stimulator.
Under the general maritime law doctrine of maintenance and cure, the employer of the injured crewman in almost all cases is required to pay all reasonable and necessary medical treatment. While there remains some controversy, the modern trend in maritime law is to authorize the injured crewman’s treatment with spinal cord stimulators in appropriate cases, provided that the treatment is designed to improve function. A more complicated question is who will cover the ongoing yearly costs for the spinal cord stimulator over the remainder of your life. Never settle a Jones Act injury case without considering the costs of your future spinal cord stimulator treatment.
If you are a crewman who has been injured by negligence or unseaworthiness of the vessel, your damage complaint should always include a claim for future medical expenses. A Jones Act or maritime injury settlement should take into account the money you will need to set aside to cover future medical expenses associated with the ongoing costs of your spinal cord stimulator treatment. Under the Jones Act and general maritime law, crewmen injured through negligence and unseaworthiness are also entitled to claim money damages to compensate them for pain and suffering, mental anguish, lost past and future earnings, and lost earning capacity.
If you are an injured crewman suffering from chronic pain and need help getting treatment for your injuries, contact Beard and his partners at Johnson Beard & Trueb PC to discuss your claim at 1-800-61-1091. Beard is always on the side of the injured worker. He has been protecting injured seamen and commercial fishermen’s rights to compensation for over 30 years.