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Cook County cervical spine injury lawyerYour spinal cord is a key part of your central nervous system, and any injuries which result in damage to the spine can not only be very painful, but they can lead to long-lasting complications, including numbness, tingling, and paralysis in different parts of the body. Cervical spine injuries that affect the vertebrae in the neck can be especially dangerous, and they can result in permanent disability. These injuries often occur in motor vehicle accidents, but they can also happen in a variety of other situations, such as construction site accidents or slip-and-falls. If you have suffered a spine injury, you will want to work with a skilled attorney to determine your options for pursuing compensation.

Is Surgery Necessary for Cervical Spine Injuries?

The first seven vertebrae in the spine are known as the cervical vertebrae. Damage to the nerves in this area of the spinal cord can lead to paralysis in the arms, legs, and trunk; impairments in one’s ability to breathe, eat, drink, and speak; and loss of bowel and bladder control. 

Not every type of cervical spine injury will result in permanent disability. In some cases, people experience a herniated disc, which occurs when one or more of the discs that act as cushions between the vertebrae rupture. This can cause significant pain, and it may lead to compression of the spinal cord, resulting in numbness, weakness, and loss of fine motor control in the hands and arms.

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Cook County toxic chemical injury attorney ethylene oxideIn 2018, people in the Chicago area became aware of the significant dangers posed by a toxic chemical. Sterigenics International, a company that sterilizes medical equipment, was found to be emitting ethylene oxide, a known carcinogen, from its facility in Willowbrook. A variety of legal challenges have been raised against the Willowbrook plant, but due to its decades in operation, people in the surrounding communities, including Hinsdale and Burr Ridge, are at risk of serious personal injuries.

Changing Laws and Regulations Regarding Ethylene Oxide

While Sterigenics has claimed that its Willowbrook plant was operating within the emissions regulations set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the EPA reported in 2018 that people in the surrounding areas were at an elevated risk of contracting cancer due to the presence of ethylene oxide in the atmosphere. As a response, a variety of legal complaints were lodged against Sterigenics, and in February 2019, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued an order to shut down the facility.

In the ensuing months, Sterigenics was able to reach an agreement with Illinois lawmakers and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to reopen the plant, as long as new equipment was installed to drastically reduce the amount of ethylene oxide emissions. However, people in the community and public officials continued to fight against the facility being able to operate in Willowbrook. In September 2019, Sterigenics announced that it would be permanently closing the plant and that it would no longer operate sterilization facilities in the state of Illinois.

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