Back Injuries at Work: Info on Workers Comp Benefits
Year after year, different studies indicate that a back injury is one of the most common injuries incurred in the workplace. Some experts have even stated that US workers are 50% more likely to develop back injuries in the course of their lifetime.
Work-related back injuries are not only bad for the worker; they are bad for employers and the United States economy in general. Back injuries result in longer absences from work compared to other kinds of work injuries – a big blow to productivity.
Two Common Types of Back Injuries
When thinking of a back injury, the picture that comes to mind is that of a person lifting a heavy, large, or unbalanced object and suddenly screaming in pain because a spinal disc pinches a nerve or muscles are strained. However, this is only half the story.
Traumatic back injuries that are caused by stress, a fall, or being struck by machinery are not the only type of back injuries workers suffer.
The picture is completed by back injuries that result from repetitive stress injuries caused by things like elongated work periods in an uncomfortable position, exposure to vibration, poor sitting posture at a desk, and a variety of other seemingly benign causes.
Types of Back Injuries
- Herniated or ruptured spine discs
- Muscle strains or spasms
- Spinal compression
- Chronic lower back pain
- Spondylolisthesis (slipped vertebra after a fracture)
- Cervical radiculopathy (loss of nerve function due to the compression of the upper part of the back).
- Spinal cord damage
Back Injury and Workers’ Compensation
Traumatic and repetitive stress back injuries have something in common – they qualify you to receive New Jersey workers’ compensation. Severe back injuries require immediate medical attention to assess the extent of the damage.
The treatment measures used can range from surgery to prolonged physical therapy. In addition to the costs you will incur in taking care of medical expenses, you might be unable to work for a prolonged period due to your injuries. These expenses and costs will be taken care of by your workers’ compensation claim.
What is My Claim Worth?
Determining the value of a normal workers’ compensation claim is clearly straightforward. However, things are more complicated when it comes to back injuries. For other injuries like a broken leg, a clear external manifestation is a limp.
With back injuries, you might be going through excruciating pain without anyone knowing. To make things more complicated, back injuries affect the spinal column, making it harder for you to recover.
There are different kinds of back injuries. It could be a spinal cord injury, herniated discs, or chronic back pain. It is not possible to assign a specific value to these back injuries. However, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has estimated that the average cost of a back injury workers’ compensation claim ranges from $40,000 to $80,000.
In New Jersey, your workers’ compensation can cover the costs of your medical bills and your lost wages.
Lost Wages: Under New Jersey workers’ compensation law, you are entitled to 70% of your average weekly wage, capped each year. This was the wage you were earning before you got injured. If you were working multiple jobs, your workers’ compensation would cover the weekly wage from the multiple jobs.
You should, however, note that the amount for your compensation could decrease if you get income from other sources like unemployment compensation, social security, severance pay, short or long-term disability benefits, or the employer-paid portion of retirement pension.
Medical Bills: Your medical bill depends on the severity of your injury. It could range from a few trips to the chiropractor to a complicated series of back surgeries that cost thousands of dollars. Regardless, your workers’ compensation will cover all your medical costs that result from the back injury you sustained at work.
Can My Employer Deny My Back Injury Workers’ Comp Claim?
Back injury workers’ compensation can cost a lot. As a result, a lot of insurers and employers deny injured workers their compensation. While normal back injuries suffered by most workers take about six months to heal, back injuries sustained by older people take longer, and they might not fully recover.
Back injuries can be difficult to pinpoint making it easier for employers and their insurers to claim that the injury did not result from work activity, especially if you have a pre-existing back injury. Which is why it is best to report your current back injury as soon as it happens, so that you will get prompt treatment. Your employer’s insurer might also try to claim that your back injuries are a result of the normal aging process.
If the insurer’s doctor diagnoses you with a degenerative disc disease, it is best for you to contact an independent physician to get a real view of the situation.
The incentive for insurance companies is to make sure they pay as little claims as possible. So, they would try to make sure you either get little compensation or nothing at all.
The insurance company has an army of attorneys and investigators on their side. Trying to take them on alone could be disastrous to your case, which is why you should try to even the odds by getting in touch with a workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible.
Schedule a Meeting with Skilled New Jersey Workers’ Comp Attorneys
If you were diagnosed with a serious back injury due to your employment, the work injury lawyers at The Law Offices of Craig A. Altman are here to help guide you through the workers’ comp claims process in New Jersey. There are numerous rules and regulations you need to effectively navigate to secure your benefits. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation. Call today at 856-327-8899 or fill out a quick contact form so a member of our legal team can follow up with you.