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The Occupational Health and Safety Administration says it simply: back injuries are America’s number one workplace safety problem. Workplace back injuries will harm over a million workers this year.
There are many ways the back and neck can be injured, including muscle strains, spinal cord injuries, fractured bones, torn muscles and ligaments, slipped discs, pinched nerves, sciatica, herniated discs, and damage to nerve fibers. Muscles strains will generally heal on their own over time, but injuries to the spine, discs, and nerves can last for years and require costly treatment.
Studies suggest that most workplace back injuries are caused by attempts to lift or to pull heavy objects. However, the American Pain Foundation reminds us that the risks go beyond manual labor jobs. Office workers can see damage to their backs because of poorly positioned keyboards and computer screens and because of long hours sitting in a chair. Elementary school teachers have to bend down to talk to students; nurses often must lift patients or reach upward to adjust intravenous drips.
Back injuries represent a huge fraction of all workplace injuries, and workers’ compensation claims total billions of dollars. Some workers’ comp insurance administrators will be under pressure to trim payments by delaying or denying legitimate claims. Every dollar the business saves in denied claims means more profit.
Unfortunately, circumstances often favor the pinchpenny workers’ comp administrators. Many painful back injuries show little physical damage on x-rays or imaging scans; the only evidence of the injury is the pain. Even when there is clear damage to bones and muscles, it’s hard to prove that the injury happened on the job.
If you suffer a back injury at work, inform your supervisor as soon as possible and get medical attention promptly. Make sure you keep an accurate record of your symptoms.
Given the resistance of some companies to workers’ compensation claims, you need to be prepared that your claim may be challenged. If the insurance company’s doctor gives you a diagnosis you disagree with, you should be prepared to get a second opinion from a physician you trust. If the insurer is obstinate in refusing to help you, consider finding an attorney experienced in workers’ compensation to represent you.
If you have had a back injury, and your workers’ compensation claim has been delayed or denied, we can help. If your benefits have been terminated without any good reason, we can help. We will make sure the company’s insurance administrator gives you the compensation your case deserves.