$16M Verdict Illustrating How Electrical Injury Caused CRPS After Breaker Box Explodes

Kurt Zaner, Esq., Zaner Harden Law, Denver, CO

A construction worker was troubleshooting a breaker box when it exploded, sending a bolt of electricity through his right arm that has caused him debilitating pain ever since. He was later diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).

CRPS is a neuropathic condition in which nerve damage triggers a looping impulse cycle in the nervous system that radiates chronic, prolonged, excessive pain throughout the injured limb. It also induces intense swelling that can change the color of the skin.

The condition is often treated using a spinal cord stimulator implant, which stops the looping pain cycle the moment the victim feels pain. The device is comprised of electrodes in a lead that runs through the spine and connects to a battery implanted in the hip or abdomen.

Kurt Zaner, Esq., needed jurors to understand how CRPS radiates ongoing pain, how the electrical injury caused CRPS to develop in his client, and why his client would need a spinal cord stimulator to reduce his painful symptoms. He also needed to demonstrate the surgeries needed to address nerve damage in his client’s wrist and elbow. We delivered an illustration series that would achieve the following objectives:

  • Illustrate the mechanism of CRPS and its impact on the Plaintiff.
  • Show the spinal cord stimulator the Plaintiff would need as a result of CRPS.
  • Demonstrate the many complex neurosurgeries the Plaintiff underwent to address nerve damage in his wrist and elbow.

The following illustrations helped Mr. Zaner simplify the complex themes of his case so he could focus on making jurors understand why his client deserved a $16M verdict for his pain and ongoing suffering.

Kurt Zaner, Esq., Zaner Harden Law, Denver, CO
With such a complex injury, I knew I needed a way to explain to the jury how CRPS actually attacks the body. I turned to High Impact, like I have for every trial, and they came through again.

Exhibit A: Illustrating the Mechanism of CRPS

The first illustration demonstrates how Complex Regional Pain Syndrome works and how the electrical injury directly contributed to CRPS.

This is how the electrical injury caused CRPS.

The way CRPS develops: the original injury initiates a pain impulse carried through sensory nerves to the central nervous system. That pain impulse then triggers an impulse in the sympathetic chain of nerves along the spinal cord, which returns to the original site of the injury.

This, in turn, triggers an inflammatory response that causes blood vessels to spasm, swell, and increase pain. The new pain triggers another response, which creates an ongoing cycle of pain and swelling. The final result burning pain and red mottling of the skin.

Exhibit B: Showing the Spinal Cord Stimulator

Once we had established the mechanism of CRPS and the painful symptoms it causes, the next illustration shows the implant that the Plaintiff would need installed throughout his spine to reduce his pain and suffering.

The Plaintiff will need this implant to reduce his constant, relentless pain.

The Plaintiff’s proposed spinal cord stimulator would be comprised of a lead that runs from the cervical spine through the lumbar spine into a battery in the hip. It would need to be inserted and advanced down the epidural space of the spine, starting at C7-T1. It would then be connected to a pulse generator placed in the subcutaneous pocket of the hip. The image on the left depicts the post-op condition while the other three snapshots chronicle this procedure step-by-step.

Exhibit C: Demonstrating Multiple Complex Neurosurgeries

After breaking down the Plaintiff’s CRPS and the implant he will need to relieve his pain and suffering, the next two illustrations walked jurors through the surgeries the Plaintiff needed to address nerve damage around the wrist and elbow.

These surgeries were performed to release pressure on median nerve and ulnar nerve.

First, the Plaintiff underwent a Carpal Tunnel and Cubital Tunnel Release to relieve pressure on the nerves. An incision was made in the wrist a cut was made down the middle of the transverse carpal ligament to release the median nerve. A second incision was made longitudinally near the Plaintiff’s elbow where more incisions were made to release the ulnar nerve.

These surgeries were performed to remove an inflamed nerve in the wrist and relocate a never in the elbow.

Almost a year later, the Plaintiff would return to undergo a Median Nerve Transection in his wrist to have an inflamed nerve removed; and an Ulnar Nerve Transposition to relocate the compressed nerve.

In the wrist, an inflamed section of the palmar cutaneous branch was removed and a healthier section of the branch was reconnected back to the median nerve. Around the elbow, the ulnar nerve was relocated from its position behind the medial epicondyle to a location in front of the elbow where it would no longer be compressed.

High Impact’s team of visual strategists, artists and developers can build and customize your digital presentation for any case involving personal injury, medical malpractice, birth trauma - or any subject involving complex information.

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