If you have suffered a back injury at work, you know how debilitating it can be. Not only does the injury itself cause pain and discomfort, but it can also make performing everyday tasks very difficult. You may be wondering what your next steps should be.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a work-related accident in North Carolina, you are not alone. To help you through this tough time, turn to knowledgeable and compassionate workers’ compensation lawyers.
At Collier Law, our workers’ compensation attorneys will help you take the burden off you and your family during recovery.
The Workers’ Compensation System in North Carolina
Workers’ compensation is a system in North Carolina that provides benefits to employees who suffer an injury or illness at work. The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act covers most employers and employees in the state, with a few exceptions.
If you are covered under the Act and suffer an injury or illness at work, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits can include medical expenses, income replacement, and death benefits.
What Does Workers’ Comp Pay For?
There are four different types of workers’ compensation benefits in North Carolina: medical benefits, income replacement benefits, death benefits, and vocational rehabilitation benefits.
- Medical benefits will cover all reasonable and necessary medical expenses related to your injury or illness, including hospitalization, surgery, and prescriptions.
- Income replacement benefits will replace a portion of your lost wages while you cannot work due to your injury or illness. The amount of these benefits is based on your average weekly wage.
- Death benefits are available to the surviving spouse and dependent children of an employee who dies due to a work-related injury or illness. These benefits can include funeral expenses and a portion of the deceased employee’s lost wages.
- Vocational rehabilitation benefits are available to employees who cannot return to their pre-injury job due to their injury or illness. These benefits can include job training, education, and job placement assistance.
What Are The Most Common On-The-Job Back Injuries?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than one million workers suffer back injuries each year, and back injuries account for one of every five workplace injuries or illnesses. Many different types of back injuries can occur at work, but some of the most common include:
- Spinal Stenosis is a spinal cord injury that narrows the space around the spinal cord, putting pressure on the nerves and causing pain.
- Bulging, Degenerative or Herniated Discs are all injuries to the discs that cushion the vertebrae in your spine. They can cause pain, numbness, and weakness.
- Fractured Vertebrae is a break in one of the bones that make up your spine. It can cause severe pain and may require surgery to heal.
- Sciatica is a condition that occurs when the sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back to your legs, is compressed or irritated. It can cause pain, numbness, and weakness in the legs.
- Lumbar Fractures, Strains, and Sprains are common injuries to the lower back caused by lifting, twisting, or falling.
- Chronic Back Pain is long-term back pain that does not go away with rest or treatment.
If you suffer from these injuries, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. It is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible and to notify your employer of your injury. You should then consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your legal options.
Common Causes of Workplace Back Injuries
Workers who perform physical labor such as construction Many different factors can contribute to a back injury at work, but some of the most common include:
- Lifting heavy objects – Lifting heavy objects is one of the most common causes of back injuries at work. If you lift something too heavy or lift it incorrectly, you can strain your muscles or injure your spine.
- Poor posture – Poor posture can put unnecessary strain on your back muscles and spine, leading to pain and injuries.
- Sitting for long periods of time – If you sit for long periods of time without taking breaks, you can also injure your back. This is often seen in office jobs where employees sit at a desk all day.
- Twisting, bending or crawling – many people work in tight spaces, or under homes, and as a result, can be placed in awkward positions that lead to a back injury.
If you have suffered a back injury at work, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible and to notify your employer.
When Should I Report My Injury?
You should report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. In North Carolina, you have 30 days from the date of your injury to notify your employer of your injury. If you do not notify your employer within this time frame, you may lose your right to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
How to File Workers’ Compensation Claims
The North Carolina Industrial Commission has a recommended list of steps to follow.
- Report your injury to your employer and receive medical treatment.
- Tell your health care provider the name of your employer.
- Inform the HR department or appropriate manager of your injury.
- Give written notice to your employer within 30 days of your injury.
- Follow your physician’s instructions for medical treatment.
Types of Back Injury Settlements
There are two types of settlements in North Carolina: lump-sum settlements and structured settlements.
- A lump sum settlement is a one-time payment made to the injured worker. This type of settlement is typically used when the injury is not expected to cause long-term problems or need ongoing treatment.
- A structured settlement is a series of payments made to the injured worker over time. This type of settlement is typically used when the injury is expected to cause long-term problems or need ongoing treatment.
Which type of settlement you receive will depend on the severity of your injury and your needs.
What If My Employer Does Not Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
If your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, you may still be able to receive benefits through the North Carolina Industrial Commission. The Industrial Commission provides an online portal to determine whether or not your employer has insurance coverage. If your employer is uninsured, you can still proceed for workers’ compensation benefits against them, and your claim will be placed on what is known as the “uninsured docket.” There are also civil penalties that go along with your employer not being insured.
What If I Am Fired After Filing A Workers’ Compensation Claim?
It is against the law for your employer to fire you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. If you are fired after filing a claim, you may be able to sue your employer for wrongful termination.
You should speak with an attorney if you have been fired after filing a workers’ compensation claim.
How Can I Prevent Back Injuries at Work?
There are several things you can do to prevent back injuries at work:
- Wear proper lifting shoes – This will help you avoid injuries when lifting heavy objects.
- Use proper lifting techniques – When lifting, use your leg muscles, not your back.
- Wear a back support belt – This will help support your back and avoid strain.
- Modify repetitive tasks – If you do the same thing repeatedly, it can put a strain on your back. Make repetitive motions more comfortable and reduce the strain on your back.
- Take breaks often – Get up and move around every 20 minutes or so to avoid stiffness and pain.
- Do some back exercises – Strengthening your back muscles can help prevent injuries.
Contact A Workers’ Compensation Attorney To Discuss Your Back Injury Claim
If you have been injured at work, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits can help pay for your medical expenses and lost wages.
You should contact a workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your claim. An attorney can help you understand your rights and options. An attorney can also help you file a claim or appeal a denial of benefits.
You should not have to suffer because of a back injury that you received at work. Contact a workers’ compensation attorney at Collier Law today to discuss your claim.