- Back injuries are very common in the workplace, and present risks of long-term impairment and disability.
- Workers’ compensation claims can protect workers who suffer back injuries from financial catastrophe.
- Workers’ compensation may be easy to initially file, but cases can quickly become complicated if the employer or their insurance company disputes the claim.
- Working with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you navigate the legal system and receive the compensation you deserve.
From picking up heavy objects to sitting at a desk, the modern workplace presents many risks for workers’ back health. These injuries can be costly and debilitating, leaving workers with pain, physical impairment, lost wages, and expensive medical bills.
Luckily, workers’ compensation claims for back injuries can help injured workers stay financially stable after their injuries.
The Basics of Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance designed to protect the finances of injured workers. It’s paid for by your employer, and it’s required by law for most businesses with employees.
Workers’ comp is a no-fault system, meaning it doesn’t matter if you or your employer caused the accident. This makes it easy to recover basic compensation in the event of an injury, but it also makes it more complicated to pursue a larger claim.
How To File a Workers’ Comp Claim
Workers’ compensation is usually pretty straightforward: you report your injury to your employer, they report it to their insurance provider, and you get paid.
If your claim is disputed, things get a little trickier. To recover the compensation you deserve, you may have to file an appeal through the court system.
Back Injuries in the Workplace
Back injuries are common in the workplace. One in five workplace injuries involve the back in some way.
Unfortunately, back injuries have the potential to be uniquely debilitating and life-changing events.
Types of Back Injury
Not all back injuries are equally serious. They range from painful injuries to permanent disabilities.
Some of the most common types of back injury include:
- Soft tissue injuries like muscle strains and sprains are common injuries that cause pain and limit movement.
- Herniated disks involve damage to the tissue between vertebrae, causing pain, numbness, and weakness.
- Spinal injuries are extremely dangerous and can lead to lifelong disabilities, including paralysis.
Common Causes of Back Injuries in the Workplace
- Lifting and carrying: Repetitive heavy lifting is a major cause of workplace back injuries, especially with improper lifting techniques.
- Falls and slips: Slips on wet floors, falls from heights, and even tripping over obstacles can put immense stress on the spine.
- Awkward or repetitive movements: Sitting, twisting, or reaching for extended periods can damage muscles and ligaments.
- Exposure to vibration: Operating heavy machinery can, over time, result in damage to the spine.
What Compensation Can I Receive?
Workers’ compensation is pretty tightly regulated, with standard benefits that almost everyone injured on the job can receive. This includes compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and potential disability benefits.
Workers’ compensation will cover all of your medical bills related to your workplace injury. It’s important to keep all documentation related to your injury and medical treatment since this will be crucial evidence needed to claim compensation.
Any medical bills you incur while treating your workplace back injury should be covered, with no cost to you, including:
- Emergency treatment
- Hospital stays
- Physical therapy
- And more
If your injury leaves you unable to work, you are eligible for wage replacement during the time you’re away, usually 2/3rds of your pre-injury wages.
These benefits can be paid for up to two years, and are not subject to income tax.
If you are left with a disability that leaves you unable to work to your previous capacity, you may receive some form of disability benefits. These will vary depending on the permanence and severity of the injury.
- Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) means you are unable to perform some work duties for some period of time.
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD) means you are completely unable to work for some period of time.
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) means your injury has permanently restricted what kind of work you’re able to perform.
- Permanent Total Disability (PTD) means you are permanently unable to return to work at all.
Disability benefits may be paid out over time weekly, but they’re often provided in a one-time lump sum payment. The amount will be calculated from a percentage of your wages before your injury, based on a doctor’s assessment of your condition.
Depending on your condition afterwards, your workers’ compensation from your back injury can provide benefits that may also include vocational training to help you return to the workforce in a new field.
Sometimes, back injuries are so severe they lead to untimely death. In this case, workers’ compensation will provide some benefits for the surviving family.
- Compensation in the form of a lump sum
- Funeral expenses up to $7,500
- Educational benefits to any surviving children
Why You Need Legal Assistance
While you’re not required to hire a workers’ compensation attorney to file a claim, there are plenty of good reasons to do so.
- Expert guidance during a complicated legal process, including possible appeals
- Paperwork filed correctly and within all deadlines
- Evidence gathered and presented to make the strongest possible case
- Negotiation with insurance companies to ensure a fair settlement
- Representation in court if necessary
There’s a lot that can go wrong in a workers’ compensation case, and having an experienced lawyer at your side can do a lot to smooth things over.
Werner, Hoffman & Greig is Ready to Help
If you or a loved one has been injured at work, the aftermath can be overwhelming. The legal system can be daunting, especially when you should be focusing on your recovery.
You’re not alone. The expert attorneys at Werner, Hoffman & Greig are here to help with your back injury workers’ compensation claim. With our compassionate approach and proven track record of winning cases, we will fight by your side for the compensation you deserve.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if my employer disputes my claim?
Unfortunately, employers and their insurance providers often have a financial incentive to dispute your claim. They may assert that the injuries are not as severe as you claim, or that they didn’t happen at work.
In these cases, it’s best to seek help from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. We can help you present a strong case and fend off legal challenges.
How long does it usually take to receive benefits?
Every workers’ compensation claim is unique, especially with the added complexity of back injuries. Processing times can vary significantly depending on the extent of your injuries and whether you need to appeal.
Consult an attorney for a more personalized estimate of your case.
Can I sue my employer if I received workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation allows employees to receive benefits without the hassle of a lawsuit. It also tends to protect employers from lawsuits in the event of a worker injury.
In most cases, you are unable to sue your employer if workers’ compensation is provided. In some cases, like if your employer purposely caused your injury or acted with blatant negligence, a lawsuit may be possible. Consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to explore your options.