Physically demanding jobs put workers at risk of overexertion. In fact, overexertion is one of the leading causes of on-the-job injuries. It’s also a leading cause of missed days of work.
Employers have a responsibility to protect their workers from injuries by encouraging safe work practices and providing proper safety equipment. But some workers feel pressure to keep working beyond their physical capabilities. They are more likely to develop overexertion injuries, requiring time away from work.
The workers’ compensation attorneys at the Joye Law Firm understand the repercussions of overexertion stemming from physical and repetitive jobs. If you suffered a job-related injury, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for lost wages, medical expenses, and more.
Contact a South Carolina workers’ comp attorney at Joye Law Firm for a free consultation to review your legal options. Call us today at (888) 324-3100.
What Are the Signs of Overexertion?
Overexertion occurs when a particular task or repetitive job leads to an injury due to excessive physical effort. It can occur in any type of industry, whether it’s an administrative assistant lifting a file box or a warehouse worker moving pallets. It’s most common in industries such as construction, healthcare, assembly work, warehouse, and trucking.
Around 25% of workers’ compensation claims are related to overexertion injuries at work. When you push yourself beyond your physical capability, it can negatively affect your overall health. You could pull a muscle, become dehydrated, or pass out and hit your head during the fall. Sprains and muscles are commonly linked to overexertion. Any type of overexertion injury could require time away from work and medical care.
The most common signs of being overworked include:
- Losing your breath and the inability to speak clearly
- Aching joints or sore muscles
- Muscle cramps
- Sharp pain or throbbing in certain parts of the body
The most common tasks that can lead to overexertion include:
- Lifting, carrying, or pulling a heavy object
- Working in an awkward physical position
- Performing tasks in a hot environment
- Throwing objects
- Repetitive motions
- Use of vibrating tools and equipment
- Reaching for materials
- Sitting and standing repeatedly
If you start to feel any signs of being overworked, it’s essential to take a break. Not all jobs provide adequate breaks to recuperate from strenuous activity. It’s crucial for your physical and mental health to take time to recover. The best solutions for avoiding overexertion injuries include:
- Ask for help to perform a strenuous task
- Do stretches so your muscles don’t cramp
- If you’re unable to carry a heavy load, use a cart or hand truck
- Take breaks to allow your muscles to relax
- Drink sufficient amounts of water throughout the day
If you sense you’re nearing the point of overexertion, it’s important to let your body get the rest it needs.
What Are Some Injuries Due to Overexertion?
Whether you’re operating heavy machinery or carrying products from one place to another all day, an injury could happen. If you’ve ever asked yourself if you’re being overworked, you should take a look at the injuries most associated with overexertion.
- Back injury: Ranges from a mild back strain to a severe spinal cord injury that requires surgery.
- Twisted ankle: If you’re walking or running to complete your duties on time, you could step on your foot incorrectly, twisting your ankle.
- Tendon and joint: Tears, dislocation, and inflammation could occur during intense manual labor.
- Neck injury: Constant head motion puts stress on muscles and tendons in the neck.
- Knee: Usually the result of torn cartilage or a tendon from jumping or climbing. Fractures and dislocation are also common.
- Hernia: Pressure from straining that pushes tissue through a weak spot of a muscle.
- Muscle sprain or strain: Resulting from frequent lifting, pushing, and pulling during the workday.
- Heat exhaustion: Heatstroke develops when performing physically demanding work in hot conditions.
Out of all the activities that workers perform on the job, lifting seems to cause injury the most. When you lift something, especially a heavy object, you use muscles in your legs, back, arms, and stomach. You could sprain a ligament, pull a muscle, or get a hernia. You could even drop the object on your foot or pass out from exhaustion.
Overexertion injuries in the workplace happen more often than people realize. What seems like a harmless situation could lead to a serious injury. Many times, overexertion doesn’t cause much pain at first, but the pain gets worse over time.
What Should I Do if I’m Injured Due to Overexertion at Work?
The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission protects the rights of injured workers. If you suffer any type of injury while performing work-related duties, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Those benefits pay for medical expenses, provide temporary compensation for lost time at work, and compensate for permanent disability.
There are important steps you should take after your injury occurs:
- Report the injury to your employer promptly.
- Request a copy of Form 50, which your employer should have submitted reporting your injury. Fill out the form yourself if you believe your employer failed to file the claim on your behalf.
- Seek medical treatment from a doctor approved by your employer or its workers’ comp insurance representative.
- If the insurance provider approves your claim, you should start receiving weekly payments for your doctor’s appointments and lost wages.
- If you receive a denial, you may appeal the decision by filing an appeal petition with the Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Under the current South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission laws, your employer and its workers’ comp administrator has the right to direct treatment and choose which doctor treats your injury. If you decide to seek treatment on your own without your employer’s approval, you might have to pay for the medical care yourself.
Workers’ compensation benefits for an overexertion injury cover the following costs:
- Medical bills: Treatment medically necessary to treat your injuries, such as surgery, hospitalization, physical therapy, prosthetic devices, medical supplies, and prescriptions
- Lost wages: Partial replacement of the wages that you’re unable to earn because you can’t work
- Disability: Weekly payments for a temporary or permanent disability
- Travel expenses: Reimbursement for travel to and from doctors’ appointments
- Vocational rehabilitation: Assistance finding another place of employment if you can’t perform the duties of your previous job.
- Death benefits and funeral expenses: If the victim of a workplace injury dies, their immediate family members may receive up to $12,000 for burial costs.
After approval of your workers’ comp application, there’s a seven-day waiting period before you start receiving benefits for lost wages or disability. That means you must be out of work for at least seven consecutive days before your weekly payments begin. Calculations based on 66 2/3% of your average weekly wages get paid.
You stop receiving benefits when your doctor releases you from their care and places you at maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI means you recovered as much as you physically can, and further medical intervention won’t provide much relief.
Can I Sue for Being Overworked?
If you don’t want to pursue an insurance claim, it’s possible to file a lawsuit against your employer. To sue your employer or the individual who caused your overexertion injury, you must prove their actions were very careless or negligent.
Should I Retain a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
It’s beneficial to seek legal representation immediately after your injury occurs. However, if you tried to handle your claim by yourself, and receive a denial letter, you should hire a workers’ compensation lawyer.
If your application was denied, it doesn’t mean you’re never going to receive benefits for your overexertion injury. You’re allowed to file an appeal and request a hearing with the workers’ compensation commissioner.
The South Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys at the Joye Law Firm want to make sure that you get the benefits you deserve. We will help file the appeal and will prepare for the hearing. We’ll collect convincing evidence that supports your claim and proves you deserve workers’ comp benefits.
If the Commissioner rules against you, we’ll request a review of the decision from a three-member panel of commissioners. If your claim still gets denied and you’re not satisfied with the decision, we could file an appeal with the South Carolina Court of Appeals.
Representing At-Risk Workers in South Carolina
The attorneys at the Joye Law Firm have represented injured workers throughout South Carolina for over 50 years. With four conveniently located offices, you’ll never have to travel far to see us. We believe in seeking justice for victims of overexertion injuries in the workplace.
We’re proud of the reputation we’ve built helping those in need within our community. We participate in local and national fundraising events, such as the American Cancer Society, Habitat for Humanity, and Joye in the Community.
We offer a free consultation to all prospective clients. There’s no risk or obligation to meet with us and discuss the details of your case. If you suffered from an overexertion injury at work, call us at (888) 324-3100 or fill out our contact form.