Are Back Injuries Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
Back injuries are some of the most common injuries sustained by employees across all industries. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that musculoskeletal disorders resulting from overexertion account for as many as 31 percent of all reported work-related injuries. Regardless of how the injury occurred, employees can receive benefits through Georgia’s workers’ compensation law. Unfortunately, valid workers’ compensation claims are still denied or delayed on a regular basis, so if you suffered a back injury at work, it is important to speak with an experienced Savannah workers’ compensation attorney who can walk you through the filing and appeals process.
Any employee can suffer a back injury. For example, a truck driver may be involved in an accident where he or she suffers serious whiplash after being struck by another car. However, there are certain occupations that are more likely to result in back injuries for employees, including:
- Freight and stock movers;
- Nursing assistants and other medical professionals;
- Construction workers;
- Warehouse employees;
- Airport baggage handlers; and
- Assembly line workers.
These kinds of employees are all required to bend, twist, or lift to fulfill their job duties. Over time, these actions put a significant amount of wear and tear on the body, which can have devastating long-term consequences.
Common Back Injuries
The back is made up of a complicated and interconnected series of small bones, known as vertebrae, muscles, tendons, nerve endings, and ligaments. For this reason, an injury in one part of the back can wreak havoc on another. Whether caused by wear and tear from repetitive motion or a sudden impact, work-related back injuries usually fall under one of the following categories:
- Muscle strains, which occur when the muscles are stretched or torn and can result in back spasms, reduced mobility, and pain;
- Lumbar sprains, which can occur when the ligaments in the back, which connect bones to each other, are overly stretched or torn, resulting in inflammation and spasming;
- Herniated discs, which are the result of the rupturing of the soft discs that sit between and cushion each of the vertebrae, causing nerve damage and extreme pain;
- Bulging discs, which occur when a weakened disc does not rupture, but instead swells and extends outwards, placing pressure on nearby nerves;
- Spinal stenosis, which is the result of the narrowing of the spaces between the vertebrae and results in excessive pressure being placed on the spinal cord and nerve roots;
- Spinal fractures, which are usually caused by blunt force trauma and can require surgical intervention to prevent paralysis;
- Spondylolisthesis, which occurs when a vertebra breaks and then slips over an adjacent vertebra, resulting in muscle weakness and lower back pain; and
- Cervical radiculopathy, which is the result of compression of the nerve roots in the upper back, can cause severe pain in the back, shoulders, and neck.
The cost of treating these types of injuries can quickly add up to overwhelm a patient. Fortunately, Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws provide medical benefits and wage replacement for employees who sustain back injuries on the job. The length of time that an injured party can expect to keep receiving benefits depends largely on the severity of the injury.