Workers’ Comp for Back Injury
Back injuries are among the most common workplace injuries. Whether your back injury is the result of an accident or repetitive strain over time, the resulting pain can be debilitating, making it hard or even impossible to perform your job duties. Back pain is a leading cause of work-loss days and work limitations for employees in the U.S.
What Qualifies as a Back Injury?
Many different types of injuries qualify as a back injuries. For example, back injuries sustained during work accident can be caused by a specific event (falling from a ladder) and/or back pain caused by repetitive stress or strain. These types of injuries, labeled as a continuance trauma result from repetitive lifting, lowering, or twisting, but can even be caused by standing or sitting for long periods of time.
Employees who perform physical labor, such as factory workers, construction workers, and healthcare workers are at increased risk for both accidents and repetitive strain injuries. For example, a factory worker could sustain a spinal fracture when he or she is struck by a piece of equipment, or a nurse could strain his or her back as a result of repeatedly lifting and moving patients.
However, workers whose jobs are primarily sedentary can also be at risk. For example, long-haul truckers who sit for hours at a time, do not use their back muscles and arrive at their destination only to unload heavy cargo can put extra stress on the spine. Even office workers can experience back injuries as a result of poor posture while sitting at a desk all day.
Most Common Types of Workers’ Compensation Back Injuries
The disks between vertebrae contain a gel-like substance in the center of them. The outer part of a disk is made up of fibrous cartilage that keeps the gel contained.
When the outer part gets tears or splits, the gel can poke out. This is what it means for a disk to become herniated. A herniated disk is also called a “ruptured disk” or a “slipped disk.” You can think of it like a jelly doughnut whose filling has squirted out.
Nerve compression syndrome occurs when a nerve is squeezed or compacted. It typically occurs at a single location. Nerves in the torso, limbs, and extremities may be affected. Common symptoms include pain, numbness, and muscle weakness at the site of the nerve.
Spinal Cord Injury
A spinal cord injury — damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal (cauda equina) — often causes permanent changes in strength, sensation and other body functions below the site of the injury.
Paraplegia is a term used to describe the inability to voluntarily move the lower parts of the body. The areas of impaired mobility usually include the toes, feet, legs, and may or may not include the abdomen.
A strain is an injury to either a muscle or tendon. Tendons are the tough, fibrous bands of tissue that connect muscle to bone. With a back strain, the muscles and tendons that support the spine are twisted, pulled or torn.
A back sprain is the stretching or tearing of a ligament. Ligaments are the fibrous bands of tissue that connect two or more bones at a joint and prevent excessive movement of the joint.
How Much a Back Injury in the Workplace Can Cost You
The total cost of work injuries in 2019 was $171.0 billion. This figure includes wage and productivity losses of $53.9 billion, medical expenses of $35.5 billion, and administrative expenses of $59.7 billion. The total also includes damage to motor vehicles in work-related injuries of $5.0 billion and fire losses of $3.7 billion.
The cost per worker in 2019 was $1,100. This includes the value of goods or services each worker must produce to offset the cost of work injuries. It is not the average cost of a work-related injury.
The cost per medically consulted injury in 2019 was $42,000, while the cost per death was $1,220,000. These figures include estimates of wage losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, and employer costs, but exclude property damage costs except motor vehicles.
Time off work
The 105,000,000 days lost in 2019 are a result of injuries that occurred in 2019 and days lost in 2019 from injuries that occurred in previous years.
Days lost due to injuries in 2019 totaled 70,000,000. This estimate includes the actual time lost during the year from disabling injuries but excludes time lost on the day of the injury, the time required for further medical treatment, or check-ups following the injured person’s return to work.
If there is reason to suspect that a specific condition is causing your work-related back pain, your primary treating physician might order one or more tests such as:
- X-ray. These images show the alignment of your bones and whether you have arthritis or broken bones. These images alone won’t show problems with your spinal cord, muscles, nerves, or disks.
- MRI or CT scans. These scans generate images that can reveal herniated disks or problems with bones, muscles, tissue, tendons, nerves, ligaments, and blood vessels.
- Blood tests. These can help determine whether you have an infection or other condition that might be causing your pain.
- Bone scan. In rare cases, your doctor might use a bone scan to look for bone tumors or compression fractures caused by osteoporosis.
- Nerve studies. Electromyography (EMG) measures the electrical impulses produced by the nerves and the responses of your muscles. This test can confirm nerve compression caused by herniated disks or narrowing of your spinal canal (spinal stenosis).
California Workers’ Compensation for Back Injury
If you sustained a back injury while on the job and your claim has been accepted, the workers’ compensation carrier should pay for your medical expenses and a portion of any wages you lose as a result of being unable to work. There are a number of hurdles to overcome before you are entitled to any benefits.
The most significant of these is proving that your injury really is related to your work, and not—as insurance companies and employers often argue—the result of a pre-existing condition or something you did on your personal time.
When to Hire a Back Injury Lawyer
Although most workers with back injuries eventually receive compensation, many initially have their claims denied and need to litigate the claim. It is important to hire California Work Injury Law Center to help you through the process so you can receive more compensation than employees who don’t hire a lawyer.
California Work Injury Law Center charges what’s known as a “contingency fee,” which is a 15% of your overall settlement or award. This means that you do not have to pay anything up front, and if you do not recover a settlement you do not pay anything. Injured workers who have a lawyer to guide them through the workers’ comp process still generally take home more in compensation than those who do not hire a lawyer.
When Can A Back Injury Lawyer Pursue Compensation?
Workers’ compensation insurance carriers deny most claims and claim that your back pain is not work-related, but is instead the result of a pre-existing condition. For example, they may point to a car accident that happened while you were off duty, an old sports injury, or simply the effects of aging on the spine.
It is imperative that you call California Work Injury Law Center to advocate on your behalf. Even if you have a prior injury, your new injury may still be covered by workers’ compensation if it is aggravated by the old one (but you might not receive as much compensation). In the case of other claimed pre-existing conditions, such as the effects of aging, you may be able to demonstrate that it was performing your job duties—not getting older—that actually caused your back pain.
To increase your odds of recovering workers’ compensation benefits, make sure to contact California Work Injury Law Center so that we can navigate on how to discuss your injury with medical providers and whether it is an aggravation or exacerbation of your prior injury.
Back Injury FAQs
When do you need a back injury lawyer?
You will need a back injury lawyer when you are injured on the job and the workers’ compensation insurance carrier is not authorizing medical treatment or benefits. Alternatively, if you have been fired and have back pain caused from a specific injury or repetitive duties; a back injury lawyer can file a workers’ compensation case on your behalf.
What should you do before calling a back injury lawyer?
Prior to calling a back injury lawyer, it is important that you report your injury to a supervisor or employer in writing, complete a DWC-1 claim form provided by your employer and obtain medical reporting evidencing your back injury (industrial clinic, emergency room, urgent care doctor’s report of first industrial injury).
How much do back injury cases settle for?
Back injury settlements are dependent on various factors and involves negotiating with the employer’s insurance company to reach a settlement. California Work Injury Law Center has the experience and expertise to estimate how much your case is worth based on a number of factors, including:
- the extent of your injuries and resulting limitations in what you can do
- your past medical expenses, as well as the cost of medical treatment you’ll need in the future
- whether you have lasting or whole person impairments and the extent of your permanent disability
- whether your employer owes you for retro-active temporary (wage loss) benefits and penalties for late payments, and
- your previous wages
California Work Injury Law Center understand the negotiating tricks and tactics used by insurance companies, from low-ball offers to bogus “final offers” that really aren’t. With few exceptions, workers’ compensation attorneys are more likely to engage in productive negotiations with insurers than injured workers acting alone.