Back injuries are the most common workplace injury in all occupations, but nursing assistants, laborers, stock clerks, and materials movers sustain most work-related back injuries. These injuries affect the earning capacity of workers and even leave them unable to perform their jobs.
Insurance companies are frequently skeptical of back injury claims due to their frequency and subjective findings regarding pain and limitations. This situation can make it challenging to navigate the workers’ compensation process and receive benefits. These claims demand the attention of a workers’ compensation lawyer who can present your case well and show that your injury is not a fluke but a severe condition that warrants medical treatment and financial support.
You can find an effective workers comp lawyer in New York City at Raphaelson & Levine. We are a personal injury law firm dedicated to helping injured workers secure financial compensation to treat their injuries, support their households, and move forward after an injury. However, time is of the essence on these claims, and you need to act quickly after a work-related back injury or waive your rights to workers’ compensation benefits. Call us today at (212) 268-3222 to schedule your free consultation and start the claim process.
Back injury claims are not limited to physical jobs. The most common factors contributing to back pain at work include:
Some professions contain all elements of back injury risk. Truck drivers, for example, may injure themselves from awkwardly lifting heavy objects, but they are also vulnerable because of their sedentary driving time. Likewise, the usually sedentary office worker may lift a heavy file box which leads to injury.
There are also different types of back injuries. They range from muscle sprains to spinal cord injury, and they include:
Doctors diagnose back injuries with x-rays and physical exams. If they suspect herniated discs, you may undergo an MRI, CT scan, or nerve study to see if your discs interrupt nerve endings. Once they determine the extent and cause of your back injury, they may prescribe any of the following treatments:
Recovery from back injuries varies widely. Sprains and strains may resolve within a few days or weeks, but other injuries, especially to the spinal cord, are often permanent. You may qualify for full or partial disability if extensive injuries limit or eliminate your ability to work.
If you sustain a back injury at work, immediately follow these steps:
Once you reported your condition to your employer, that is an excellent time to get a workers’ compensation attorney involved. After that report, everything moves quickly. You will receive a list of company-approved doctors to evaluate you and the name and the insurance adjuster’s name and contact information. Telephone calls, emails, and documents will start to overwhelm you. At this point, hire an attorney and delegate those tasks to them, so you can focus on feeling better.
We can ensure you meet vital deadlines, like the 30-day deadline to inform your employer and the deadlines associated with the Workers’ Compensation Board, including the employee claim form.
Your treatment continues until your doctor determines you reached Maximum Medical Improvement, meaning your injury will not improve with additional treatment. If your doctor assigns a disability rating to you, the insurance company may order an independent medical exam (IME) to determine that rating’s accuracy.
Possible disability categories include:
The IME often indicates the insurance company is preparing to dispute your claim’s seriousness and limit your settlement. You may need legal advocacy to preserve your claim, especially since your risk of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time increases. Hiring an attorney early in the workers’ compensation process will reduce the chances of error and raise your likelihood of receiving benefits.
Workers’ compensation awards only includes economic damages, like:
Economic damages are objective and proven through documents like invoices, medical records, and receipts. You only receive a portion of lost earnings, including future wages, if you are permanently disabled. Depending on your injury, you may get enough to help you finish your recovery and return to work. For partial or permanent disability, the focus also includes future lost income and medical care.
Personal injury claims include economic and non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, reduced quality of life, and loss of enjoyment. These damages are harder to prove, but they raise your settlement amount. You may also receive the full extent of lost wages, present and future, and ask for funds for services like domestic help and remodeling your home for accessibility.
There are cases where a personal injury action against your employer is appropriate. Examples of these cases include:
You may also pursue liable third parties who are not employees of your company. For example, if you have a car accident as a delivery driver and sustain back injuries, you have two claims. You can pursue a workers’ comp claim against your employer and a personal injury claim against the other driver.
When you schedule a case evaluation with us, we will review whether a personal injury, workers’ compensation claim, or both will work best for you. These accidents are not always a simple matter of a workplace injury needing medical and wage coverage; sometimes, there are multiple actors for potential liability. Our job is to maximize your settlement, which includes pursuing other parties responsible for your injury.
Nearly 75 percent of workplace back injuries receive a workers’ compensation settlement. The average settlement amount for at-work back injuries is $23,600. Since back injuries are variable, workers' comp back injury settlement amounts range from less to $10,000 to over $60,000. Sixty-eight percent of workers received $20,000 or less, while nine percent received more than $60,000.
Your settlement amount depends on the extent of your injury, required treatment, and impairment level. You are also more likely to maximize your settlement if you are honest throughout the process. Exaggerating symptoms never results in a good award and may even sabotage your claim. Do not consider that a strategy for securing the best settlement possible.
Back injury cases resolve in an average of 17.9 months. It takes longer for back injury cases to resolve because workers stay in treatment longer. While it may be tempting to cut off treatment early to secure a settlement, that is more likely to ensure you remain in pain and never fully recover. Finish your treatment, and once done, we will pursue settlement negotiations.
When a workers’ compensation claim falls through, it is often due to missing deadlines or failing to report the injury. Many workers become overwhelmed with treatment and paperwork, so something ends up neglected. This oversight emphasizes why hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer is essential; by involving us early, you avoid mistakes that could throw out your claim. Meanwhile, you can focus on treatment and recovery.
Back injury claims have a high initial denial rate. Nearly 63 percent of workers who received a settlement also had their claim denied at first. Sometimes, an insurance company gambles and denies your claim, hoping you will not consult with a lawyer. It is not the end of your claim but a sign that you require legal assistance.
Common reasons for denial may include the administrative reasons described earlier. But also include:
Insurance companies do not act in your best interest and work to interpret any evidence against you. Time records, GPS data, medical records, and witness testimony can dispute any of these reasons and show that you sustained an injury while working. However, building these cases takes effort, professional expertise, and resources that may not be available to you. That is where our skilled workers’ comp lawyers come in and help you.
Workers’ compensation is a complex area of law, which is especially true for workplace back injuries. Even a lumbar strain can keep you from performing your best and require treatment, rest, and compensation for lost wages.
Do not underestimate your symptoms or assume you are not eligible for workers’ compensation. Investigate the possibility as it can reduce your financial stressors and help you recover better. Call Raphaelson & Levine at (212) 268-3222 to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation.