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    back injury at work

    Back pain is one of the most common reasons to see a doctor or miss work. Back injuries can cause chronic pain that limits a worker’s ability to move. A severe back injury can mean the loss of the ability to work for a living or even to handle simple daily tasks.

    The normal wear and tear of life can lead to inflammation in the spine that causes pain, particularly in the lower back. Back problems are frequently cited as among patients’ most common medical complaints.

    The prevalence of back pain can make it harder to obtain a workers’ compensation settlement for a back injury sustained on the job. This is especially true for cumulative back injuries caused by long-term stress and strain involved with job duties. Employers and their workers’ comp insurers may argue that the employee’s injury is due to aging or factors other than the employee’s job.

    The workers’ compensation attorneys of Joye Law Firm can help you seek the full benefits you are due for a disabling back injury that is work-related. Since 1968, Joye Law Firm has helped thousands of injured workers in South Carolina obtain the workers’ comp benefits provided by S.C. law. Our attorneys can help you file a claim or gather the medical evidence and expert testimony necessary to appeal a denied claim for a back injury caused by your job.

    Contact Joye Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation about the workers’ compensation benefits you may claim. We have offices in Charleston, Columbia, Myrtle Beach and Clinton, S.C., and can meet with you online or come to where you are. Phone 877-941-1019 to learn more now.

    Back Injuries in the Workplace

    The back is a complicated structure of bones, joints, ligaments and muscles. In addition to protecting vital organs and nerve structures, the back supports the weight of the body while allowing movement. The 24 vertebrae of the spine run the length of the neck and back and protect your spinal cord, the main link between your brain and the body’s nervous system. Between each vertebra are spinal discs made of flexible, elastic tissue that hold the spine together, act as shock absorbers and enable flexibility.

    Back pain that is not due to disease may be caused by sprained ligaments, strained muscles, ruptured disks, irritated nerves and/or fractured vertebrae. This may be the result of a direct blow, a sudden jolt or twisting of your back. It may be the result of years of cumulative stress and strain on the soft tissue of the back. Even working at a desk all day can contribute to back pain, especially if you sit in a chair with not enough back support.

    Common accidents that lead to back injuries include:

    • Slips, trips and falls
    • Motor vehicle accidents
    • Being hit by objects, materials, tools or debris
    • Being pushed against a structure or object
    • Being trapped between or crushed by structures or objects
    • Lifting heavy materials

    Injuries that result from long-term stress or sudden strain on soft tissue are known as musculoskeletal disorders or ergonomic injuries.

    Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) may be defined as including sprains, strains, tears or back pain caused by bodily reaction to:

    The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says work-related musculoskeletal disorders that result in days away from work most commonly involve the back alone. Each year, musculoskeletal disorders involving the back account for more than one-third of all work-related musculoskeletal disorders.

    Workplace back injuries occur in all occupations.

    They are often reported by:

    • Health care and social assistance employees, in particular registered nurses and nursing assistants
    • Housekeepers, janitors, cleaners, sanitation workers
    • Construction workers
    • Maintenance and repair workers
    • Manufacturing employees
    • Retail and wholesale trade stock clerks and order fillers
    • Retail sales personnel
    • Transportation and warehousing freight, stock and materials movers
    • Delivery services drivers
    • Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers

    S.C. Workers’ Compensation and Settling Your Back Injury Case

    A back injury may keep you out of work temporarily, may force you to seek another line of work that pays less or may prevent you from ever working again. Your full workers’ compensation benefit would differ accordingly. If you ability to earn a living has been impacted by a work injury, it is crucial that you hire an experienced workers’ comp law firm. Failing to do the same could cost you tens of thousands of dollars in benefits.

    South Carolina workers’ compensation pays for all medical bills and two-thirds of lost gross wages once an injury that grows out of job duties has kept you out of work for seven consecutive days. There are additional benefits available for disfiguring injuries and to the survivors of a deceased worker. Disability benefits are generally available for up to 500 weeks (9 ½ years). However, benefits for paralysis (even partial paralysis) and certain brain injuries can be for life.

    In cases of permanent disability due to a back injury, you may be eligible for a workers’ compensation settlement that includes payment for future lost earnings. In some cases, it is better for the employee to negotiate a lump sum payment which includes future medical rights, while in others you may be better off maintaining the right to future medical coverage. Because the employer’s and/or insurer’s desires will differ from what is best for the injured worker, it is best to work with a knowledgeable workers’ comp attorney to handle negotiations and determine the injured worker’s financial needs in a settlement.

    Common Back Injuries

    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 caused by compressed nerve roots at the end of the spinal cord
    • Fracture or dislocation of the spine
    • Spinal cord damage (paralysis)

    Back injuries cause pain and limit mobility. A spinal cord injury can cause paralysis, which is an incurable disability. Treatment may range from over-the-counter or prescription pain medication and/or icing, to bed rest, physical therapy, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), steroid injections and surgery.

    What You Should Do About a Back Injury at Work

    Lower back pain from work injuryYour workplace back injury may not be the result of an accident witnessed by co-workers that required immediate assistance. Instead, it may be something you deal with on your own without complaint. When back pain interrupts work or other aspects of your life, you should immediately notify your employer and seek medical help. Any workers’ compensation claim begins with a medical examination and treatment.

    You should see a doctor if you experience:

    • Back pain directly caused by an accident, such as falling off a ladder
    • Pain that is not eased by rest, ice and/or OTC pain medication
    • Back pain that suddenly gets worse
    • Pain that continues for four to six weeks
    • Pain that wakes you up at night
    • Pain in the back and abdomen
    • Numbness in the upper inner thighs, groin or buttocks.

    Make sure your employer and the doctor knows your back pain is related to a workplace accident or your regular job duties. The sooner you notify your employer of a work-related back injury, the better. Under South Carolina law, an injured worker can be barred from receiving workers’ comp benefits if they fail to give notice to their employer within 90 days of being injured.

    If a doctor diagnoses you with a specific injury or advises you to stay out of work, tell your employer right away. If you expect to be disabled for a week or more, ask your employer’s human resources office for medical care through the workers’ comp program and about weekly disability benefits. Follow up in writing, explaining exactly what your diagnosis and/or doctor’s orders are, how your back injury is related to your job duties or a workplace accident, and your need for workers’ compensation benefits.

    At this point, you should begin to keep track of all of your medical expenses and other costs and losses related to your injury. Save copies of receipts and correspondence related to your injury, medical care, job and workers’ comp claim.

    Unless your employer disputes your claim, you should hear back from the company soon about workers’ compensation benefits, which are paid weekly and should begin almost immediately. (There is a seven-day wait period in South Carolina before the entitlement to weekly benefits begins.) If you do not promptly hear from your employer or start receiving benefits, consider contacting an experienced workers’ compensation law firm.

    A Form 50 is the form to be filed to initiate a S.C. workers’ comp claim. If you think your employer has not initiated a claim for you, speak to a lawyer experienced with South Carolina workers’ compensation claims. It is not advisable to file a Form 50 on your own without at least speaking with an experienced workers’ comp lawyer as there are nuances to the form which can come back to haunt you if the form isn’t properly completed.

    If your claim is disputed and denied, you should receive an official letter stating exactly why. You have a right to then file a Form 50 hearing request, and you should speak to a South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer about the steps to take.

    Pain is not easily quantified, and the source of back pain can sometimes be difficult to pin-point. This makes it easier for employers and insurers to deny that a back injury is the result of work activities, especially if the employee is older, has an active lifestyle or has a pre-existing condition that could contribute to back pain. Do know that under South Carolina law, the aggravation of a pre-existing condition is a compensable work injury.

    If your employer has tried to dissuade you from filing a workers’ compensation claim for a job-related back injury – perhaps by suggesting your health care insurance should cover it – you should speak to an attorney. Countless injured workers have been denied proper benefits because their employer coerced them to improperly use health insurance for a work injury. At the end of the day, this is insurance fraud.

    Contact Joye Law Firm About a Work-Related Back Injury

    You may have the right to benefits under South Carolina workers’ compensation laws if you are out of work due to a back injury arising out of your assigned job duties. The attorneys at Joye Law Firm have more than 150 years of combined experience fighting for the rights of injured workers in South Carolina. We are proud of our track record of success. We want to help you, too.

    Contact Joye Law Firm today at 877-936-9707 or online to schedule your free legal consultation about a workers’ comp claim. We fight for the rights of injured workers in Charleston, Columbia, Myrtle Beach, Clinton and across South Carolina.

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