Back injuries are a leading cause of disability for people in their working years. They afflict more than 600,000 employees each year, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says.
A single traumatic event such as a fall can cause a back injury, or the mini-trauma of repetitive activity can lead over time to a back disorder. When a back injury develops slowly, workers may ignore the condition until the pain and loss of mobility are severe, often resulting in a disabling injury.
If you have developed a work-related back injury, you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Because back pain is common and may occur due to age and normal wear and tear, employers and workers’ compensation administrators often dispute workers’ comp claims based on a back injury, particularly an injury caused by repetitive trauma. If you sustained a back injury or more than normal degenerative changes to your back caused by performing your job, you may need the help of a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney.
Contact Joye Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation about the workers’ compensation benefits you may claim for a work-related back injury.
Workplaces and Jobs More Prone To Back Injuries
SpineUniverse, a publication overseen by doctors, nurses, therapists, and alternative medicine practitioners, compiled a list of occupations more prone to back injury based on the job requirements and the work environment.
“Two occupations lead the list of jobs placing workers at highest risk for neck and back injury: construction and nursing home workers, including nurses,” SpineUniverse says. “Workers in both settings share the tendency to under-report work-related injuries. Unfortunately, some workers fear they will lose their job and can’t afford to take time off.”
Other jobs with high rates of back injuries include:
- Warehouse workers
- Dentists and surgeons
- Landscapers and gardeners
- Store checkout personnel
- Airline crew (pilots, baggage handlers)
- Assembly line workers
- Bus and cab drivers
- Cable and telephone line installers
- Carpenters, electricians, plumbers
- Carpet installers and cleaners
- Dry cleaners
- Emergency medical technicians
- Firefighters and police
- Office personnel
- Professional athletes
Common Causes of Work-Related Back Injuries
OSHA says back disorders result from exceeding the capability of the muscles, tendons, and discs in the back. A back injury may result from the cumulative effect of several contributing factors:
- Reaching while lifting.
- Poor posture — how one sits or stands.
- Stressful working activities — staying in one position for too long.
- Bad body mechanics — how one lifts, pushes, pulls or carries objects.
- Poor physical condition — losing the strength and endurance to perform physical tasks without strain.
- Poor design of a job or workstation.
- Repetitive lifting of awkward items, equipment, or patients in healthcare facilities.
- Twisting while lifting.
- Bending while lifting.
- Maintaining bent postures.
- Heavy lifting.
- Poor footing, such as on slippery floors, or constrained posture.
- Lifting with forceful movement.
Common Back Injuries That May Occur at Work
Signs and symptoms of a back injury include pain when attempting to assume the normal posture, decreased mobility, and pain when standing or rising from a seated position.
Have you suffered a back injury at work? A work-related back injury may be diagnosed as:
- Lower back sprain or strain
- Bulging, herniated, torn, or slipped disc
- Pinched nerves
- Cauda equina syndrome (compressed nerve roots at the end of the spinal cord)
- Fractured vertebrae or dislocation of the spine
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal cord injury (paralysis)
Treatment for back injuries may range from over-the-counter or prescription pain medication to bed rest, physical therapy, steroid injections, and surgery.
How Much Compensation Can I Receive for a Back injury?
If a back injury has decreased your ability to work and earn a living, it is crucial that you contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to assist you with your workers’ comp claim. Failing to seek experienced legal guidance could cost you tens of thousands of dollars in benefits.
Your workers’ compensation benefits will depend on the extent of your injury and disability. You will need to have medical evidence to show the connection between your job and your injury. A back injury may force you out of work temporarily, require you to seek employment that pays less or prevent you from returning to work.
South Carolina workers’ compensation pays for all medical treatment associated with an occupational injury and two-thirds of lost wages after you have been out of work for seven consecutive days. Disability benefits are generally paid for up to 500 weeks (9½ years). However, any degree of paralysis (including partial paralysis) from a back injury could entitle you to lifetime disability benefits.
If you have been permanently disabled by a work-related back injury, you may be eligible for a workers’ compensation settlement that includes payment for future lost earnings.
The most beneficial way to settle a workers’ comp claim will depend on the nature of the worker’s injury, financial capabilities, and other benefits (such as Social Security Disability or a pension) available to the injured worker. There may be a reason to negotiate a lump sum workers’ comp settlement. In other cases, a worker may be better off maintaining the right to submit claims for future medical costs as the need arises.
The workers’ comp insurance administrator is unlikely to help you increase your benefits or to advise you if you are about to leave money on the table. But an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can investigate your injury and medical needs, and determine how to recover the maximum benefits available to you.
A worker who has been disabled by an accident on the job or the cumulative wear and tear of working conditions is more likely to receive all the workers’ compensation benefits available by law if a knowledgeable workers’ comp attorney is negotiating on his or her behalf.
Contact Our S.C. Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
If you have suffered a work-related back injury that will keep you from working for an extended period of time in South Carolina, consult an experienced S.C. workers’ compensation lawyer to ensure you receive the full benefits that you deserve. The initial consultation is free. Call Joye Law Firm at 888-324-3100 or fill out our online case evaluation form today. There’s no fee for our services unless we recover compensation for you.