Workers with physical jobs often place a large burden and strain on their backs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than one million workers yearly suffer back injuries. One in every five workplace injuries is to the back. Moreover, one in every four workers’ compensation claims are for back injuries.
Although your own back injury can cause pain and keep you from working, the insurance company may not see it that way. The Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm can vigorously fight for you during the workers’ compensation process. Call us today to speak with an experienced lawyer for workers’ compensation claims in Greenville.
Common Causes of Work-Related Back Injuries
Work-related back injuries can vary in severity. Some may be permanent conditions that could prevent you from ever performing physical work again in the future. Others may heal with treatment or rest.
Here are some common causes of work-related back injuries:
- Suboptimal ergonomics in your office environment
- Straining to lift heavy loads
- Repetitive tasks that place a strain on the same area of the back
- Stretching to reach something
- Bending over
- Awkwardly carrying or dragging a heavy load
Work-related back injuries may occur due to an accident or repetitive strain and stress.
Examples of Work-Related Back Injuries
Workers can suffer the following back injuries:
- Bulging, herniated or slipped discs: The disc is a soft area between vertebrae that is supposed to cushion them. The area can move out of place, putting pressure on the nerves in your back.
- Lower back strains: Most lower back injuries can be treated with medication and rest. However, the worker may also break bones or experience disc issues with their lower back.
- Pinched nerves: Disc injuries are serious because they can affect the nerve. Damage to a nerve in your back can affect the rest of your body, including your arms and legs.
- Fractured vertebrae: Sudden trauma to your back can cause bones to break, injuring your spinal cord or nerves. A chance fracture is the most common type of vertebrae injury from a work accident.
- Degenerative disc disease: The wear and tear on your back from years of physical labor could cause your discs to wear down, causing constant pain.
- Spinal cord injuries: An injury to your spinal cord is the most severe type of back injury because it can affect your ability to move, partially or entirely.
Compensation for a Back Injury Claim
Your workers’ compensation benefits could cover reasonable medical costs of treating your injury. In addition, you can also receive benefits for lost wages when your injury leaves you unable to work.
In South Carolina, you can receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage from the four quarters before your injury. You cannot receive a payment that is higher than the state’s average weekly wage. For 2023, the cap has been set at $1,035.78.
Further, suppose you are unable to return to your current job. In that case, you may also be eligible for vocational rehabilitation and other career support services that could train you to earn money in a different type of job.
The four types of workers’ compensation benefits available for work-related back injuries in South Carolina are:
- Temporary total disability
- Temporary partial disability
- Permanent total disability
- Permanent total disability
What to Do After a Back Injury on the Job
The first thing that you should do after a work-related back injury is notify a supervisor. Under South Carolina law, you must give your employer notice of the injury within 90 days to be eligible for benefits. Preferably, it would be best if you gave this notice in writing so you have proof that you did it.
You should also see a doctor to have your injuries diagnosed and treated. In South Carolina, you would need to see a doctor approved by your employer.
You have two years from the date of your work injury to file a claim, although there is usually no reason to wait that long.
You Can Appeal a Denied Workers’ Compensation Claim
The insurance company does not get the final say over your workers’ compensation claim. They may be able to make the process more difficult, but they cannot completely determine your eligibility for benefits. Instead, state law allows you to file an appeal to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Your appeal would include evidence showing you meet the work-related injury criteria. A single Commissioner would hear your appeal and issue a written decision. If you do not win your appeal, you can have your case heard by a panel of Commissioners. Eventually, you can take your case to state court.
Often, a settlement is the result of a workers’ compensation appeal. Your lawyer may negotiate with the insurance company while the appeal is pending. In other cases, injured workers have successfully won their appeals in front of the Commission. Many claim denials are eventually converted to benefits through the appeals process.
While there is no legal requirement that you have an attorney for a workers’ compensation appeal, getting legal help gives you a better chance of winning. You would have a hearing with witnesses and evidence, so you should have a lawyer to present your case to the Commission.
Otherwise, you would not be able to present your most effective case. You do not need to pay out of your pocket to get legal help from a workers’ compensation attorney.
Contact a Greenville Workplace Back Injury Lawyer Today
You may need help with your workers’ compensation claim if you have suffered a work-related back injury. Invariably, legal issues may arise at some point during your claim, whether it is a claim denial or a dispute over your condition.
The Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm represents injured employees throughout the workers’ compensation process. You can send us a message online, or you can call us today at (864) 280-7660 to schedule a free initial consultation.