Did You Have a Back Injury at Work?

Take a quick survey for me. Do you have to do any of the following activities to complete your job:

  • Lifting and carrying items;
  • Stocking or shelving products;
  • Pushing and pulling machinery or carts;
  • Bending to pick things off the floor;
  • Squatting;
  • Kneeling or crawling;
  • Twisting;
  • Digging;
  • Sweeping;
  • Operating heavy machinery; or
  • Driving a motor vehicle

If you answered yes to one more of these activities, you are at an increased risk of suffering a back injury at work.

How Common are Back Injuries at Work?

Back injuries at work happen all the time. The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration, known as OSHA, says that on-the-job back injuries are among the most common types of work-related injuries.

Many of you will suffer at least one back injury during your career. Unlike some other types of work-related injuries, back injuries put you at greater risk of suffering a second back injury. A severe back injury can cause degenerative disc disease and arthritis that will only get worse with time and increased wear and tear. That’s part of the reason it’s so important to make sure you hire an experienced workers comp lawyer to get your initial back injury covered.

No two back injuries are just alike. A range of work accidents can cause injuries. Sometimes a back injury is minor and resolves with limited treatment in a few weeks or months. There is no lasting impact and the injured employee is able to return to their pre-injury job.

Other work-related back injuries have a lifelong impact. The injured employee may require surgery and even a lumbar fusion. Extensive surgery puts you at risk of having permanent disability that may prevent you from returning to your normal line of work. In this case you may be entitled to permanent partial disability benefits for loss of use and function in your arms and legs because of the back injury.

Common On-the-Job Back Injuries in Virginia

Below are some of the more common on the job back injuries I see as a workers’ comp lawyer. You may be entitled to temporary total disability, permanent partial disability, or a workers compensation settlement if suffer one of these injuries.

  • Lumbar strains and sprains: You may experience severe pain and irritation if you try to lift or carry a heavy item, move too quickly, or twist the wrong way. Lumbar sprains can be painful, but usually resolve within a few weeks or months because they are musculoskeletal in nature. Your doctor may prescribe pain medication, muscle relaxers, and physical therapy for your back strain.
  • Vertebrae and disk injuries: You have 24 moving vertebrae in your spine and nine that are fused together. A disk sits between each vertebrae and acts as a shock absorber that cushions the vertebra from trauma. A work accident may cause these disks to bulge, herniate, or protrude. When they do, your vertebrae may rub against each other and the spinal nerves may become inflamed, which leads to pain and disability. I often see injured employees suffer fractured vertebrae in car accidents, slip and falls, and falls from heights.
  • Degenerative disc disease in the lumbar spine: Most of us will have degenerative disc disease once we hit our 30s. It’s a fact of life. If your work accident aggravates or accelerates your pre-existing degenerative disc disease, you may get approved for workers’ compensation benefits. I’ve won benefits for several injured workers with pre-existing back problems.

It doesn’t matter what type of back injury you suffer at work. If you can prove that a specific work accident caused or contributed to your back problems, you can receive workers’ comp benefits.

But what about repetitive motion injuries? Unfortunately these are not covered under Virginia workers comp. Even though your back may hurt because of constant lifting, pushing, and pulling on the job, the Workers’ Compensation Commission will deny your claim unless you prove a specific injury by accident. Read my article, What’s Covered under Virginia Workers Compensation, for more information on what you must prove. Simple acts of sitting, standing, and walking are not covered – you must show something more.

What Do I Do if I Suffer a Back Injury at Work?

Workers’ compensation benefits may be available for your on-the-job back injury. These benefits cover the cost of your medical treatment and therapy, out of pocket medical expenses, transportation costs, and part of your lost wages.

Report your back injury to your employer right away and seek medical attention. Then call an experienced workers’ comp lawyer. Even if you have a history of chronic back pain or prior back surgeries, you should still seek the advice of an experienced lawyer. If the accident caused additional damage, you can still get benefits.

Treatment for Work-Related Back Pain

Most back injuries at work are treated using conservative measures. These include hot and cold compresses, physical therapy, and prescription medication to reduce the pain and inflammation. Some back injuries require more intensive treatment such as lumbar fusions and diskectomies. Work-related cauda equina syndrome will require emergency surgery in many cases.

Most injured workers want to get back to work right away. Having to deal with workers’ comp is stressful. But don’t push yourself too fast and too far. Follow your doctor’s advice and focus on your recovery while your attorney focuses on the Virginia workers compensation claims process.

Get a Free Review of Your Virginia Work Injury Case

Workplace accidents are a leading cause of back and spinal cord injuries. Construction workers, machine operators, mechanics, and nurses are just some of the employees at an increased risk of back injury. Workers comp lawyer Corey Pollard is passionate about helping you get the compensation you’re owed.

Call or e-mail now for a free consultation!