When reviewing data provided by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), it may surprise some to learn that back injuries account for nearly 20% of all workplace injuries in the United States. OSHA, as well as other workplace safety organizations, constantly work to determine how back injuries occur so that accidents can be avoided. Yet over and over, workers are hurt for the same reasons.
So why do so many employees end up with back injuries?
Common Back Injuries At Work
It doesn’t matter what industry you are in or how many hours a day you spend on the job, there is always the chance that a work accident will occur or that the aspects of the job can cause an injury even without an accident taking place. When it comes to back injuries, the following are the most common causes:
Repetitive Motion Injuries
When an employee has to do the same motions over and over again, the repetitive motion can cause wear and tear on joints, muscles, tendons, and nerves. Employees who often lift are at risk for repetitive motion injuries in the back.
Slip & Falls
It doesn’t matter if it’s a fall from a great height or a fall from a standing position. Slip and fall accidents can cause serious harm to those involved, including back injuries.
Anyone who is expected to lift in any capacity while at work needs to be trained on proper lifting techniques.
Truckers, delivery drivers, and any other employee who is in an automobile for work could potentially end up in an accident.
Falling objects, especially heavy ones, can crush the person unlucky enough to be below, including their spine.
However you or a loved one injured your back, the bottom line is that workers’ compensation should cover your medical expenses and possibly a fraction of lost wages.
How Much Does It Cost To Treat A Back Injury?
It’s no secret that medical care in the United States is very expensive. Even with the best insurance available, patients with a back injury will have out-of-pocket expenses for things like medications, x-rays, surgeries, wheelchairs, and walkers. This can literally cost thousands of dollars and during a time when a worker is prevented from earning a living because of their injury.
Take the following into account. According to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, if a back injury results in any incomplete motor function, the average cost of care the first year is $347,000 dollars. Every year after that is another $42,000. If a back injury results in total paralysis, the first year of care typically costs $1,000,000, and every year after that averages $185,000.
These astronomical costs are why workers’ compensation insurance exists and why the law requires that employers have it for their employees.
How Much Does Workers’ Comp Pay For Back Injury?
There is no hard and fast number for workers’ compensation coverage for back injuries because each case is different. Nevertheless, it should be clear that expenses directly resulting from the back injury, more specifically hospital bills and lost wages are usually reimbursed. However, as we cover below, if your claim isn’t properly filed, your benefits may be denied or only partially disbursed, which makes it even more critical to hire a legal professional to help you through the claims process.
How An Employer Can Help Prevent Back Injuries
In compliance with the law, every employer is required to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards that may cause injury to employees. The OSHA recommends that employers take steps to prevent injuries from occurring in the first place.
This includes promoting a safe work environment by communicating safety policies and procedures with all employees, doing regular inspections of the workplace, and training workers on how to perform their jobs safely and effectively. After an accident occurs, advice on what employees can do to prevent future injuries should be available as well.
Making safety a priority should be an ongoing process, not just when there is an accident. The goal is to eliminate workplace hazards completely and create a work environment in which employees feel safe doing their job.
Back Injury Management
An occupational health professional will be able to manage the back injury. This may involve an appointment with a physical therapist, chiropractor, or pain management physician. If the patient’s injury is serious, rehabilitation may be needed to help him or her regain mobility, such as with exercise programs that can be designed to help relieve back pain and stretch tight muscles. While recovering from a back injury, it’s important to maintain good posture and avoid stooping at work or exercising until the injured area has fully recovered.
Emotional Impact of Back Injuries and Physical Symptoms
According to occupational health experts, an individual who has suffered a back injury may experience some physical symptoms, but in many cases, the emotional impact is the main problem.
An injured worker may feel alienated and become depressed because he or she can’t do what they have always done. The injury can also lead to mental health problems, such as anxiety, grief, and stress. In addition to psychological issues, a worker’s adjustment to an injury can be difficult because of the changes in body image that often occur with an injured back.
Why Should I Consider Working With An Attorney For My Workers’ Comp Claim?
Although the law requires employers to have workers’ compensation insurance coverage for employees, it does not require the insurance companies to pay out benefits. The harsh reality is that most insurance companies train their adjusters to deny as many claims as possible with the goal of saving the company money.
Workers’ comp claim denials can be issued for something as small as a mistake made on a claim form. Appeals can be filed yet the appeals process is lengthy and confusing. When you work with an experienced legal team like the one at Schuster Law, you can be sure that the common mistakes made on initial claims are avoided and your chance of getting your claim approved on the first submission will be much higher. If you’ve already received a denial, our workers’ compensation lawyers can guide you through the appeals process and help you get the evidence you need to prove that your claim is valid.
What Can I Do If My Back Injury Prevents Me From Working?
If you have a back or spinal injury that prevents you from returning to work, you may be able to file for Social Security Disability (SSDI). These benefits are available to anyone who qualifies, not just the elderly and retired.
Much like the workers’ comp claims process, SSDI claims are also a legal process. This means that the way in which you file will have a direct effect on the result of your claim. Disability claims are reviewed under strict guidelines and if specific standards are not met, a claim will be promptly denied even if the applicant was right in filing for benefits.
Contact our law firm today to learn more in a free consultation.