Workers’ Comp for Back Injury: What You Need to Know
Back injuries are common in the workplace. If you’ve suffered such an injury at work, you may be wondering about workers’ compensation for back injury.
In this article, our North Carolina work injury lawyers will tackle what you need to know about workers’ comp for back injuries, and how you can pursue a claim if you’ve been injured on the job.
Workers’ Comp for Back Injury in North Carolina
North Carolina law treats back injuries differently than injuries to other parts of the body. While North Carolina generally requires that an injured worker be hurt in an “accident” in order to recover worker’s compensation benefits, that rule does not apply with back injuries.
With back injuries, an injured worker may recover worker’s compensation for a back injury if the injury was the result of a “specific traumatic incident” that occurred while in the course and scope of their employment duties.
This relaxed rule for back injuries results in many back injury claims being considered compensable, whereas they would have been denied if they were injuries to other body parts. There are literally thousands of cases where North Carolina Courts or the Industrial Commission debate what exactly constitutes an “accident.”
Relieving injured workers of the burden of proving they were hurt in an “accident” that caused their back injury is for many people a huge help in ensuring their back injury workers’ comp claim is promptly accepted. That means getting quicker access to medical care, and being paid for your time out of work more quickly.
Insurance Companies and Workers’ Comp Back Injury Claims
Of course, many insurance companies will still try to deny a back injury claim under the loosened standard that applies to back injury claims. If for example, they conduct a recorded interview with an injured worker, they might ask the worker if he or she can point to a specific moment when they heard a pop or felt a sharp pain. If the injured worker says no, the adjuster might consider that grounds to deny coverage for the claim, on the theory that there was not a “specific traumatic incident”.
This is one of the reasons why you should never give an insurance company a recorded statement without first talking with an experienced workers’ comp attorney.
Another common tactic among adjusters is that they will ask the injured worker if there was anything out of the ordinary when they hurt their back, or if it just became sore over the course of a day’s work. Again, if the injured worker says, “nothing unusual,” or “it just started hurting,” then the adjuster might deny his or her claim for not having reported a “specific” enough event.
Back Injury Workers’ Comp Claims and Medical Care
It is common for injured workers to get routed to an urgent care facility where they undergo an x-ray and are then given a clean bill of health and told to return to work. The truth is that most back injuries do not show up on an x-ray, and some do not even show up on a CT scan or MRI. It is also normal for an MRI of the back to show chronic problems that were not caused by the workplace incident, but which were exacerbated or aggravated by the accident.
So when an adjuster says that an MRI “just showed degenerative disc disease” and that obviously there is no significant injury, we know that this is not really a fair interpretation. You can have a tremendous amount of back pain and not have anything more appear on your MRI than “some degeneration” or “DDD”. If the injury to your back worsens and exacerbated an underlying chronic condition, then the back injury workers’ comp claim should be compensable.
If you took 100 MRIs of 100 random workers, you would probably find DDD on 90 of them. And 80 of those people would say they don’t have much back pain at all. As one doctor recently testified for us at deposition, MRIs are helpful, but doctors treat patients not pictures.
Protecting Your Legal Rights
Unfortunately, injured workers usually don’t know about these rules and standards, which really do defy common sense. Most people think, “If I hurt my back on the job, I should be covered.” But adjusters know all the rules, and the exceptions to those rules, and they can walk a claimant into saying something that hurts their claim.
Do You Have a Back Injury Workers’ Comp Claim?
Insurance companies know the rules, and the laws, and it’s important that if you have been hurt, you are familiar with the rules yourself. Adjusters have lawyers who can provide them with legal advice as needed, and you should too. If you have been the victim of a serious back injury on the job, make sure to talk with an attorney who is experienced in handling North Carolina workers’ compensation for back injury claims.
Our firm has two lawyers who are Board-Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation law, so we have the knowledge and experience to guide you on what to expect, and what you must prove in order to successfully recover worker’s compensation for a back injury.
In more than three decades serving the people of North Carolina, we’ve recovered millions of dollars in compensation for injured workers (see disclaimer below), including:
- $2,475,000 — Our client fell from a platform while on the job and suffered a disabling head injury. We set up a trust and guardianship to ensure his long-term care, and were able to work out a total settlement of $2.475 million on his behalf.
- $1,8000,000 — Our client was hit by a truck while on the job and suffered the eventual loss of his left leg below the knee. Attorney Gene Riddle negotiated two settlements with the workers’ compensation insurance carrier and the truck insurance company, totaling $1,800,000.
*** Disclaimer: The results mentioned are intended to illustrate the type of cases handled by the firm. These results do not guarantee a similar outcome, and they should not be construed to constitute a promise or guarantee of a particular result in any particular case. Every case is different, and the outcome of any case depends upon a variety of factors unique to that case.
In cases resulting in long-term disability, we also have a Board-Certified Specialist in Social Security Disability on staff who can help with your disability claim or appeal, as well.
For a FREE consultation with an experienced North Carolina workers’ comp lawyer handling back injury claims, please call 1-800-525-7111 or complete the fast and easy form below.
“I would recommend Riddle & Brantley to anyone who needs help with workers’ comp.”
–B. Fields, Riddle & Brantley client
There is no obligation and you won’t pay any attorney fees unless we win your case and you receive financial compensation.
Remember, we don’t get paid unless you do. There are no attorney fees unless we recover workers’ compensation benefits for you.
Justice Counts for those injured on the job and we would love to help however we can.