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Icon showing nerves with electrical sparks to represent pain

Nerve damage refers to damage which has been sustained to a nerve or nerves in your body. The nervous system in the brain is responsible for transmitting messages between your brain and your body.

The nervous system is made up of your brain, your spinal cord, and your nerves. Your nervous system is responsible for what you think, feel, and do, while also being responsible for allowing you to do things like walk, talk and learn - among many other things. Your nervous system also controls intelligence, movement, basic bodily functions such as breathing and digestion, as well as your five senses.

Nerve damage can come about as a result of a disease such as Parkinson’s, diabetes, or Alzheimer’s, but it can also be caused by injury, exposure to toxins, or through infection such as shingles. People can also suffer nerve damage by way of an accident, such as in a car accident or in the workplace. Claims for nerve injuries accounted for 0.1% (155) of the total serious injury workplace claims in 2018-19, while nervous system and sense organ disease claims made up 2% (1,135 total) of all claims for workplace diseases. Nerve damage can be mild, but it can also be incredibly disruptive to your daily function and can cause considerable pain.

If you have suffered nerve damage as a result of someone else’s negligence, whether in the workplace, in a car accident, or if you have been injured in another way, you may be eligible to make a common law claim for compensation. You may also be able to lodge a claim through WorkCover for your injury if you have been injured in the workplace. Speak to our Brisbane based no win, no fee personal injury lawyers today for legal advice about how we can help get you started with the claim process. 

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Nerve damage symptoms

Nerve pain icon

The symptoms of nerve damage will vary depending on what kind of injury you have suffered and which nerves are damaged.

Cut or wound nerve damage - If your nerve damage has come from a cut or wound, you may experience pain and have trouble with your muscles in the area which has been cut or wounded. You may also experience a loss of function, ongoing pain and aching or burning at the site of the wound.

Example: Martin is at work and a machine causes him to administer a deep cut to his arm. Martin sustains damage to the nerve endings in his arm and experiences numbness at the site of the injury, along with likely pain and a burning sensation. He is also in slight shock and his blood pressure drops. As Martin sustained his injury at work, he may be able to claim for the wound injury, as well as any permanent nerve damage impairment.

Nerve damage due to disease or illness - Sometimes nerves are damaged by way of illness or disease, such as through exposure to certain toxins. In this case, the presenting symptoms can vary depending on what has been impacted in your nervous system.

Example: Linda has been employed by a company as a landscape gardener for the past fifteen years. In recent years she has been exposed to commercial insecticides through unsafe workplace practices and inadequate safety equipment. Linda has begun to suffer from toxic neuropathy which is a form of nerve damage. She begins to experience pain, tingling and numbness in her feet, along with cognitive impairment. Linda would be able to make a WorkCover claim for her injury, medical treatment and any financial loss, as well as likely being able to make a common law claim against her employer for negligence in failing to provide a safe system of work.

Common nerve injuries

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Some nerve injuries which are commonly suffered in accidents in the workplace and in day-to-day life include:

  • Optic nerve damage - this eye injury includes any kind of damage to the optic nerve (nerve in the eye) which can include nerve damage from trauma, injury and illness, or disease. Optic nerve damage can also come about from the deterioration caused by aging.
  • Damaged hand nerves - the nerves in the hand can be damaged through overuse (such as carpal tunnel - a form of nerve damage), trauma to the hand, or an injury to the hand or arm. Damaged hand nerves can cause weakness, numbness or even paralysis.
  • Damaged nerves in leg - nerve damage to the leg may appear in the form of numbness and weakness and can come about as a result of injury, prolonged pressure on certain nerves through posture or sitting position, or damage from disease. Numbness in the leg can also be linked to spinal nerve damage or spinal cord injury.
  • Nerve damage in foot - the feet are susceptible to injury from everything from kicked toes through to dropped objects landing on the foot. Foot nerve damage can appear as numbness and loss of function, among other symptoms.
  • Damaged nerves in the arm (including ulnar nerve) - the arms are used a great deal in day-to-day life and as such are predisposed to injury from overuse. Tennis elbow is a form of nerve injury, along with general injuries from damage and trauma. Damage to the ulnar nerve can present as numbness in the pinky finger and hand.
  • Wisdom teeth nerve damage - in rare cases, wisdom teeth extraction can cause numbness and tingling after a wisdom tooth extraction procedure due to dental medical negligence.
  • Spinal nerve damage - in cases where the spinal cord is injured this may result in a nerve injury where paraplegia or quadriplegia occurs.

Nerve pain, also known as neuralgia or neuropathic pain, happens when you have an injury or illness that affects how your nerves are sending messages to your brain. Nerve pain caused by nerve damage can be very troubling, and often requires medical intervention. If you have suffered nerve damage as a result of a workplace accident, or through someone else’s negligence, speak to us about nerve damage compensation claims.

Nerve damage car accident compensation

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Nerve damage is a common injury suffered in car accidents. Because of the severe trauma often sustained in car accidents, injuries often include nerve damage. Nerve damage may be experienced in any area of the body where injury has happened.

Example: Charlie and Diane are traveling home from a night out. Charlie is driving and at one point he drifts off to sleep, running off the road and hitting an embankment. Charlie is uninjured in the accident but Diane breaks her collarbone and her arm. The injury leaves her suffering from nerve damage to her left arm which never heals completely and leaves her with numbness and a burning sensation which Diane treats with painkillers and medical intervention. Diane would be able to make a negligence claim against Charlie’s compulsory third party insurance for her injuries and for medical treatment and care, as well as for financial loss suffered as a result of the accident.

Work injury nerve damage compensation

Certain professions are naturally at a higher risk of suffering nerve damage, purely as a result of the work undertaken and the kind of duties involved. Construction workers, mining workers, and factory workers are all at risk of suffering nerve damage through different types of injury and trauma to the body. Conversely, office workers are at risk in equal measure through potential damage to nerves through poor posture when sitting, or repetitive strain injuries through using computers.

No fault claim: If you have been injured in the workplace you may be able to make a claim through WorkCover which is a no-fault claim for damage or injury sustained at work, on the way to or from work, or when on a break from work.

At fault negligence claim: If your workplace injury was caused as a result of your employer’s negligence or through some fault of theirs, you may also be able to seek a lump sum work injury common law claim.

Impacts of long-term nerve damage

Short and long term nerve damage require medical treatment to ensure that the nerve damage is not permanent. In the event that nerve damage is not treatable, you may suffer long term nerve damage. 

This can take the form of permanent burning and numbness, and you may also suffer wasting of muscle and a loss of function in the affected area. You should get assessed by a medical professional if your nerve damage is ongoing before it begins to, or continues to, impact on your quality of life.

Time limits for nerve damage claim

Clock with alert symbol to show nerve injury compensation time limits

When making a claim for nerve damage you have certain time limits to adhere to. A common law claim needs to be commenced within three years from the date your injury was suffered. If you were injured prior to your 18th birthday, the three year common law time limit commences from the date you turn 18, so you have until your 21st birthday to commence your claim.

If you have been injured in the workplace you must formally report your nerve damage accident to your employer as soon as possible, with your WorkCover claim lodged within six months of your accident. Read more about time limits associated with nerve damage in our guide.

If you have suffered nerve damage, speak to our compensation lawyers about making a personal injury claim for general damages and make sure you achieve the outcome you deserve.

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