Back Injury at Work? What You Need to Know
You literally feel the pain come on all at once. As you grab a runaway box from a pallet, something in your back seems to explode. Consequently, you are brought down to your knees, where you cower in pain. So, what happens if you injure your back at work? What should you expect?
New Jersey’s workers’ compensation laws are set up to help people with all types of injuries. This means that you can count on medical care, but you should make sure it is authorized. Additionally, you can expect some part of wage reimbursement. Moreover, many people with back injuries can make a claim for either partial or total permanent disability.
Meanwhile, there’s something else you should know. Not every on the job back injury is the result of an isolated traumatic accident. In some circumstances, someone may suffer a back injury as a result of repetitive motion. The Occupational and Safety Administration (OSHA) states that back injuries are the leading cause of disability found among people hurt at work.
That’s not to say that you could not be met with some resistance if you look for workers’ compensation benefits. All things considered, you should meet with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney as soon after you feel your injuries are work-related. Your lawyer will take you through the steps to prove your back injury is related to your employment.
Types of Back Injuries
As you most likely know, the term back injury is a general one. In many cases, you may hear back injuries referred to as spinal injuries. They are further broken down according to the portion of the injured spine. For example, if you hurt the lower part of your back, you have lumbar pain. The area just below your lumbar spine is known as the sacroiliac joint, which is commonly referred to as the tailbone. The middle part of your back is known as the thoracic spine. Meanwhile, your neck is part of your cervical spine.
Depending on the severity and location of your back injury, you may feel discomfort in other regions of your body. That said, someone with a herniated disc in the lumbar region may feel intense pain shooting down their leg. Similarly, some lower back injuries are literally seen as a pain in the buttocks. Additionally, it is possible to become incontinent or paralyzed as a result of a back injury at work. Here is a breakdown of back injuries commonly encountered on the job:
Sprain or strain to any part of the back – In case you’re not sure of the differences, a back sprain generally means you stretched one or more muscles. Conversely, a thoracic sprain or a lumbar sprain refers to torn or stretched ligaments. Both are painful and may take some time to heal. Although they are often viewed as less severe injuries, you may have a right to workers’ compensation benefits.
Bulging, herniated or ruptured discs – Although we have placed the three disc injuries together, they vary in nature and character. Simply put, intervertebral discs act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae. In some cases, the workers’ compensation carrier may argue that your pain is associated with degenerative disc disease.
The insurance company might contend that your discomfort is actually part of the aging process, or due to wear and tear. Be that as it may, your condition may have been aggravated as a result of a traumatic work accident or a showing of repetitive lifting and bending.
Spinal or dislocation fracture – Like any other type of bone fracture, a spinal fracture can be a serious injury. Without question, a dislocation in the spine is also considered a permanent injury. Additionally, back pain with a spinal compression fracture may actually cause your spine to shrink.
Making a Claim for Permanent Disability
Some victims may hesitate to make a claim for permanent disability for their back injury at work. Unfortunately, there is the misconception that permanent disability suggests total disability. However, it is possible to receive an award for partial permanent disability and return to work.
One of the most common questions asked is how much compensation is available for a back injury. In the long run, there is no easy formula that can determine this information. Your attorney will retain an independent medical exam to determine the extent of your permanent disability. Likewise, the insurance company will also request a medical evaluation to put a number on your percentage of disability.
What kind of settlement number is available for back injuries? First, under New Jersey law, the amount of payment correlates to the year of your accident. As you will note from this 2017 chart, back injuries do not appear separately in the schedule of disabilities. Instead, they are part of the column marked partial total. The percentage will be determined after a review of the medical reports from both doctors.
Back Injuries: A Good Reason to Seek Legal Counsel
Whether you feel back pain from a traumatic work accident or repetitive motion, you should speak with experienced legal counsel. At the Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafaljo, we have over forty years of combined experience helping claimants with workers’ compensation benefits. Contact our office to see how we can assist you.