A back injury can be severely limiting. Unfortunately such injuries are a common risk in a variety of professions. Three of the top 10 most common work injuries include repetitive motion injuries, slipping or falling injuries and overexertion injuries, all of which may result in back injuries of varying severity. It is no surprise, then, that U.S. Department of Labor statistics show back injuries are the most common type of injury in the workplace. Whether in construction, transportation, office work or a factory job, back injuries are a prevalent risk that can affect workers both in their professional and personal lives.
It must be noted that medical conditions such as obesity or increased stress can add to the risk of back injury. That should not diminish the dangers certain professionals face regarding back injuries, however, nor lead someone to under exaggerate the role a job may play in causing back injuries and back pain. In addition, precautionary measures such as stretching can reduce the likelihood of back injury, but no precautionary measure can eliminate all risk in the workplace.
Back injuries and workers' compensation
While a back injury can be devastating, workers who suffer from back strains, fractured vertebrae and herniated disks may be eligible to receive workers compensation. Workers' compensation is an insurance system that provides benefits to workers who suffer an injury within the scope of their employment. Back injuries are a common source of workers' compensation claims. Such injuries may also be a greater cause of contention between the employee and employer's insurance company regarding a workers' compensation claim.
One reason is that many back injuries occur gradually. This can lead workers to believe that they must simply live with back pain and that this type of injury is unlike one that occurs in a single workplace accident. That is not true. Workplace injuries that occur gradually are just as real and just as compensable as injuries that occur all at once. Even preexisting back injuries do not disqualify a worker from workers' comp if the work exacerbated the injury.
Filing a claim
Filing a workers' comp claim can be a complicated process. For example, if a worker does not report an injury within a certain timeframe, he or she may give up the right to file a claim. Insurance companies may question the injury and conduct a thorough investigation of the claim. Because of the potential to be denied a claim, or to appeal a denied claim, workers who have been injured on the job should consult with an experienced workers' compensation lawyer to discuss their options moving forward.