Necks are vital parts of any railroad worker’s ability to function and complete their job. The neck primarily acts as an important structure that supports and aids the head and cervical spine. Due to the great importance and frequent use of the neck in pretty much all tasks, employees in the railroad industry face several threats of harm to the health and functioning of their necks. Proper precautions to proactively limit danger for neck injuries can be made by railroad employers but unfortunately these severe neck injuries still occur at rates higher than other industries. Trains and their cargo create devastating damage and impacts in a crash. The neck in a high impact collision is especially vulnerable to injuries that can permanently damage, paralyze or ultimately kill an individual. Neck injuries can also occur for rail employees that interact or operate heavy machinery, do frequent physical labor, or numerous other causes. A neck injury can severely impair a railroad industry employee and directly impact the ability to complete their job duties. It is important if you suffer a neck injury at work you receive proper medical care and other obligations your railroad employer owes you. If you work in the railroad industry and need a FELA attorney for your neck injury please seek qualified and distinguished attorneys such as those at the firms of The Youngdahl Law Firm, P.C. and Doyle Dennis LLP.
The muscle, bones, ligaments and nerves of the neck all are at risk for severe injury. Railroad workers face many of the injuries and conditions that affect the neck listed below. It is important to recognize when you may be injured and required to rest, or ultimately need to seek medical care.
Examples of FELA Neck Injuries
Pinched Nerve (aka Cervical Radiculopathy)
A pinched nerve in the neck occurs when a nerve in your neck is inflamed or squeezed. This condition is also known as cervical radiculopathy. Railroad employees may suffer a pinched nerve after a collision or during the normal physical tasks of their daily job. Pinched nerves in the neck often involve the dislodgement or injury of the discs in your neck which provide a cushion between the bones of the spinal cord. The compression of the involved nerves from the increased pressure leads to symptoms of numbness, weakness, pain and tingling. Railroad workers should seek medical attention when the pinched nerve causes significant pain or does not show signs of improvement. Medication, immobilization and medication may be used to treat this injury.
Broken Neck (aka Cervical Fracture)
Cervical fractures, more commonly known as a broken neck, is a fracture of any of the seven cervical vertebrae in the neck. Like other fractures the causes can be varied, but railroad workers due to the size of the machinery they operate may encounter this injury after a collision or serious impact to the neck area. A cervical fracture should be treated ASAP by medical professionals as abnormal movement of neck bones or pieces of bone can cause a spinal cord injury resulting in loss of sensation, paralysis or death. Railroad employees involved in forceful collisions or serious impacts to the neck bones should seek immediate and proper medical evaluation.
Spinal Cord Injury
The spinal cord passes through your back and neck and into your brain. Railroad employees are most likely to encounter this injury after a collision involving a rail car or other vehicle. An injury to the spinal cord often causes permanent changes in strength, sensation and other body functions below the injury site. These injuries for railroad workers are often very serious because it can cause permanent or temporary paralysis to an individual. Surgery is often needed due to the severity of the injury and impact to overall health. If you suffer a spinal cord injury you may permanently be impacted so it is important to seek immediate medical attention and if needed contact a qualified railroad attorney to help recover what is legally owed after your life changes.
Herniated Discs in the Neck
A herniated disc occurs when the outer ring of the disc becomes weak or worn and results in the inner portion of the disc herniating. This herniation of the disc ultimately presses on the surrounding nerves and causes pain, numbness, burning, muscle spasms or other symptoms. Employees in the railroad industry can suffer a herniate disc from being involved in a serious impact or lifting heavy objects. Additionally, over time the discs may weaken and face injury. Railroad employees should seek medical attention for treatment of a herniated disc which can include surgery.
Bulging Discs in the Neck
A bulging disc in the neck occurs when a spinal disc weakens and encroaches on the spinal cord. This can result in pain in the neck, shoulders, arms and back. Bulging discs can be caused by acute injury to the neck area or numerous other causes such as repeated force due to the physical demands of a railyard worker. If you find yourself suffering from neck pain due to a bulging disc your ability to complete your job will be severely impacted. Railroad industry employers should seek medical care for workers injured on the job, but it is always best to be proactive to protect yourself as well. Bulging discs may go away on their own but also may require seeing a medical specialist if you are unable to do your job.
A neck strain occurs when one or more fibers in a neck muscle or tendon stretches too far and tears. This injury, also called a pulled muscle can vary in intensity depending on the tear’s size and location. Due to the neck’s frequent movement and importance in stabilizing the head, neck strains can be more severe and last longer than other types of strains. Railroad workers are at risk for neck strains if they were involved in a train collision, frequently involved in physical labor or other various causes. Pain from a strain may range from mild and achy to sharp and debilitating. If you are a train worker that suffers a neck strain from your work after a collision, please seek medical attention.
A neck sprain is a stretched ligament or muscle in the neck. A neck sprain may occur without any obvious injury but sometimes it may be caused by a sudden impact such as a conductor in a train collision. Sprains can significantly impact the range of motion for a railroad employee and vary in severity. Neck sprains are frequently common after collisions so if you are involved in one in the railyard you may not notice the sprain until days later. If the symptoms and pain persist and you think your neck sprain may be a sign of further damage please seek medical attention.
Neck Spasms are involuntary contractions of the muscles in the neck region. Neck Spasms have a wide variety of causes ranging from stress, infection and muscle injury. Railroad workers are most at risk for this type of injury after being involved in a collision or involved with lifting or moving heavy objects. These involuntary muscle contractions often bring sharp pain in several parts of your neck and deep in the muscle tissue. Range of motion and sharp pains can also result from neck spasms in railroad workers. While most neck spasms go away on their own, they can linger and the underlying cause must be diagnosed and treated if so. Railroad workers who suffer from frequent neck spasms should seek medical attention to see if it is a sign of a more significant injury or issue.
Whiplash is a non-medical term describing a range of injuries to the neck caused by or related to a sudden distortion of the neck. Whiplash is commonly associated for railroad workers with vehicle or train collisions. The prevalence of this injury in the railroad industry is frequent and the term “railway spine” was coined in the 19th century to describe this similar diagnosis to passengers involved in railroad accidents. In addition to the physical impacts from whiplash, railway accidents can leave employees with PTSD and other psychosomatic symptoms which further impact their ability to complete their job. Whiplash is frequently a sign of other potential neck injuries and railroad employees involved in a crash should seek immediate medical attention to determine the extent of their injuries and potential barriers for recovery.
Contact the firms of The Youngdahl Law Firm, P.C. and Doyle Dennis LLP if you are an employee in the railroad industry that suffered a serious neck injury from a collision or significant impact to the neck area. The experienced attorneys at The Youngdahl Law Firm, P.C. and Doyle Dennis LLP can help you understand your rights and what you are entitled to after suffering a neck injury in the rail yard or after a serious train collision. Railroad employees are subject to specialized laws and their claims after injury are best served by attorneys such as ours that specialize in the field. Please give us a call and see if we can help you today!