If you have injured your back on the job in Pennsylvania, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Unfortunately, injured workers’ compensation claims for back injuries are frequently contested by employers and insurance carriers. If you are seeking workers’ comp for a back injury, turn to Nikolaus & Hohenadel.
Our practice is dedicated to fighting for the rights of injured workers. Lead attorney Angel M. Torres knows the ins and outs of the workers’ compensation system and will help you obtain the benefits you deserve. Please contact our office today for a consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
How do on-the-job back injuries occur in Pennsylvania?
According to statistics compiled by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), back injuries can result from:
- Heavy lifting
- Reaching while lifting
- Staying in one position too long
- Twisting or bending while lifting
- Remaining bent over for too long
- A poorly designed workstation
- Repeatedly lifting awkward or heavy items, equipment or (in a healthcare setting) patients
- Poor footing (e.g. slippery floors)
- Constant vibration (e.g. operating heavy equipment, driving large trucks)
If you have suffered a work-related back injury you should seek immediate medical attention and report your injury to your employer or supervisor as soon as possible. Delaying treatment and/or failing to notify your employer may result in your workers’ compensation claim being denied.
Back Injuries that Qualify for Workers’ Compensation
Back injuries can be sudden and traumatic or develop over time. The most common work-related back injuries include:
Lower Back Sprains/Strains
Lower back injuries are common for workers who are required to stand or sit for long periods. Also, active workers are at risk of back sprains from lifting heavy objects. Lower back injuries involving strains and sprains can often be treated through a combination or rest, physical therapy, and pain medication.
Soft discs in between the vertebrae of the spinal column are designed to absorb shocks. A herniated disc occurs when one of these discs “slips,” bulges, or is damaged during a job-related activity (lifting, bending, pulling), which can result in chronic pain. While the recommended course of treatment often involves physical therapy, a severely herniated disc may require surgery.
A pinched nerve occurs when a disc between the vertebrae pushes against a nerve, which can cause sharp, burning, or aching pain that may affect the back, neck, or legs.
Workplace accidents, such as a fall (common at construction sites from ladders, scaffolding, roofs, and other heights) or being caught between pieces of equipment, can result in fractured vertebrae, which may require substantial medical care.
Degenerative Disc Disease
As individuals age, the discs between their vertebrae suffer wear and tear. If a workplace accident exacerbates or aggravates this disease, an injured worker may be entitled to workers’ compensation.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most injuries impact the lumbar region (lower back). Depending on the severity of the injury, recovery may take weeks, months, or even years. This is one of the many reasons you should consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
What To Do if You Suffer an On-the-Job Back Injury
Regardless of the workplace accident that caused your back injury, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention. While a severe injury, such as a fractured vertebra is painfully obvious, the severity of a back strain or sprain may not be immediately apparent and can worsen if left untreated. Failing to get medical care may also jeopardize your workers’ comp claim. Ultimately, the medical record will be important evidence to prove that your back injury was work-related and that your injury prevents you from doing your job.
You should immediately notify your employer about your back injury. Under Pennsylvania law, you have 120 days to do so, but don’t wait this long. If you report the injury within 21 days of the accident, you will be entitled to benefits from the date you were injured. If you report after the initial 21-day period, you will only receive benefits from the date you reported your injury. Once you have missed work due to your injury, your employer must first file a report of injury with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to start the process.
Why You Need a Worker’s Compensation Attorney for Back Injuries
Although most employers in Pennsylvania are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance and injured workers are entitled to benefits, claims are frequently denied, and back injury claims are especially challenging. Your employer may deny that your injury was work-related, or the insurance carrier may contend that you had a pre-existing back injury.
The experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Nikolaus & Hohenadel are here to fight for your rights. When you become our client, we will work to help you obtain the benefits you deserve. Our legal team will collaborate with your doctor to gather the necessary medical evidence and handle all the details of your claim, including filing an appeal if your claim is denied. We have a proven history of achieving positive outcomes in worker’s compensation cases and we will stand by you every step of the way. Contact us today so we can start working on your claim.