If your job requires you to lift heavy objects, even if only on an irregular basis, you might have a greater risk of suffering lifting injuries, such as strains or sprains, herniated discs, and chronic pain.
When an employee sustains an injury at work, they may have two options for pursuing compensation: filing a lawsuit against the liable party and/or filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. A lawyer and their team could help you figure out which method may work best for you and pursue the money you deserve. Reach out to a worker's compensation lawyer.
What Are Lifting Injuries?
A lifting injury occurs while carrying or moving a heavy object.
A worker might hurt themselves while lifting heavy objects when they:
- Try to lift more weight than they can safely handle, either because of their natural limitations or a prior injury.
- Spend hours a day twisting and turning as they move objects from one location to another.
- Try to lift an object, that object slips or breaks.
As a result of these and other incidents, workers may sustain injuries to their back, neck, legs, or arms.
Such injuries could include:
- Repetitive stress injuries, such as bursitis
- Nerve-related injuries, such as sciatica
- Spine injuries, such as a herniated disc
- Muscle injuries, such as a tear or strain
The Odds of a Lifting Injury
Your chances of sustaining a lifting injury vary from situation to situation. Even the definition of a heavy object is subjective: it may change depending on the worker’s health, weight, and age, as well as how often they lift objects as part of their job duties.
In general, the more lifting you do, the more likely you will sustain a lifting injury.
Lifting Injury Treatments
If you suspect you have suffered a lifting injury, see a doctor as soon as possible. This could mean going to the hospital, seeing a doctor chosen by your employer’s insurer, or scheduling an appointment with your regular provider. It depends on your circumstances and the nature of your injuries.
A doctor can:
- Provide an official diagnosis, which in turn can guide your treatment
- Prevent unnecessary pain or worsening of your condition
- Confirm that your injury occurred because of your employment, which could make it easier for you to collect workers’ compensation benefits and/or file a lawsuit
There is no standard lifting injury treatment. Your doctor may recommend rest, medication, hot/cold therapy, physical therapy, or surgery. It all depends on what sort of injury they diagnose you with. Whatever treatments your doctor recommends, follow their instructions closely, and keep all appointments with them.
If the cost of treatment concerns you, remember that you may not have to pay for injury-related care. Instead, workers’ compensation insurance and/or the liable party’s insurer can pay for what you need.
Lifting Injury Prognosis
Some lifting injuries may resolve by themselves, while others may require extensive treatment. In rare cases, the injury might never fully heal.
Only your doctor can provide a reliable prognosis. Again, see a doctor promptly after your injury, and follow through on all of their advice.
Lifting Injuries as an Occupational Hazard
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), overexertion, which may include lifting injuries, is one of the most common reasons workers end up in the emergency room.
Some workers might have a greater risk of suffering a lifting injury than others:
- Construction workers, painters, and other physical laborers often have to carry heavy tools and materials from place to place.
- Warehouse workers, post office workers, and delivery truck drivers spend their days moving packages of varying sizes.
- People who work with animals may have to carry large boxes and bags filled with animal supplies or even the animals themselves.
That said, any worker could qualify for compensation after a lifting injury, so long as they lifted the object as part of their regular job duties. For example, if an office worker must carry a large box of files only once a month, they could recover compensation if they sustain an injury on one of these monthly trips.
How to Qualify for Lifting Injury Compensation
After sustaining any sort of on-the-job injury, you may qualify to file a lawsuit against the liable party, file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer, or both.
Filing a Lifting Injury Lawsuit
If you want to sue for an injury, you and your lawyer must first identify the party who caused your accident.
Examples of liable parties include:
- Your employer refuses to provide you with appropriate training or accommodations that could prevent lifting injuries. If you then sustain an injury, you could hold your employer responsible.
- Your coworker engaged in horseplay on the job or refused to follow company rules. Their carelessness resulted in your injury, so you could file suit against them.
- You used a piece of equipment to help you lift an object. Either the equipment or the object malfunctioned in a way that caused you to suffer an injury. You could sue the manufacturer for selling a faulty product.
A personal injury attorney in your area can investigate your accident. This investigation could reveal the liable party’s identity and turn up enough evidence against them to prove they owe you compensation.
You should also ask a lawyer about the relevant laws in your state, as some locations do not allow employees to sue their employers or coworkers. In such a case, you would have to find a third party, like a contractor, to sue.
Filing for Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Each state has its own workers’ comp program designed to help workers financially when they suffer an on-the-job injury.
Generally, filing a claim for benefits includes:
- See a doctor about your injuries.
- Report your injuries to your employer. Your employer should then file a report with their insurer. If they do not, you or your attorney may file the report.
- Provide any further information your employer or their insurer requests.
- If disputes arise regarding your claim, consult your attorney about the next steps. These steps may include negotiating with the insurer or requesting a hearing with your state’s workers’ compensation board or other authority.
Again, talk to a lawyer in your area who is familiar with the type of case you intend to file.
- Tell you about the rules and deadlines for filing a claim in your area
- Help you provide evidence and information to the insurer without compromising your rights
- Represent you in any necessary meetings or hearings
Compensation for Lifting Injuries
What types of losses could you receive compensation for after a lifting injury? That depends on how you go about seeking compensation.
If you file a claim for workers’ comp benefits, you can only receive compensation for a few specific damages, such as:
- Lost income
- Medical costs
A lawsuit allows you to ask for a greater range of damages. For instance, if your workers’ comp does not cover all of your medical bills, compensation from a lawsuit could cover the rest.
In addition to the damages listed above, you could recover compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of consortium
- Miscellaneous bills and expenses
Receiving Lifting Accident Compensation Can Take Time
It may take anywhere from weeks to months to settle a workers’ compensation claim, depending on how cooperative the insurance company is. Lawsuits can take even longer.
You might find it next to impossible to exercise patience when you just want to finish your case and get the money you need to pay for necessities. While a lawyer cannot help your case go faster, they can support you throughout the process by answering your questions and explaining every stage.
The Statute of Limitations for Filing a Lawsuit for Lifting Injuries
A statute of limitations is a law that gives accident victims a specific period of time in which to take legal action against the party who caused them harm. Once the statute of limitations ends, you generally no longer have the right to file suit or seek compensation. The deadlines codified in statutes of limitations usually give plaintiffs a few years to start a case.
What Is My State’s Statute of Limitations?
You can find your state’s statute of limitations by doing an online search or by consulting a lawyer.
Either way, act quickly because:
- While a judge sometimes allows a plaintiff to extend the statute of limitations, such situations are uncommon. You should not rely on getting an extension.
- Finding strong evidence is critical. Over time, evidence tends to deteriorate, get lost, or lose value. The sooner you file, the greater the amount and the value of the evidence your lawyer might find.
- The liable party may have already hired a lawyer to protect them against any charges you make.
- Most important of all, you need compensation as soon as possible. By getting the ball rolling promptly, you may have less time to wait before receiving your money.
Deadlines for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Just as you must file a lawsuit within a specified period of time, you must act promptly when filing for workers’ compensation. Each state has different deadlines regulating when to report your injury to your employer and how much time you have to appeal a rejection.
Missing any deadline could jeopardize your ability to collect compensation. You could save yourself a good deal of time and trouble by hiring an attorney to help you manage deadlines.
Should You Hire a Lawyer After a Lifting Injury?
Sometimes, an injured party may want to handle their case by themselves instead of hiring a lawyer to represent them.
The concerns that motivate such a decision may include:
- Not wanting to spend money on attorney’s fees
- Not knowing where to find a trustworthy personal injury attorney
- Worrying that the insurance company may not want to cooperate if lawyers get involved
While these concerns are understandable, they should not stop you from at least consulting a personal injury lawyer before taking any action.
After all, the complex legal process can challenge individuals who:
- Have never had any dealings with the law before
- Have sustained injuries that affect them physically and mentally
- Must take medications that affect their ability to concentrate or make rational decisions
- Want to focus on their recovery and on rebuilding their lives, not on complicated legal matters
If you have any concerns about the pros and cons of hiring legal representation, you can ask to meet with a law firm before you hire them.
Most firms gladly speak with prospective clients and address all of their questions, including those related to:
- How much their services cost and when they will expect payment
- If they have handled cases similar to yours in the past and, if so, how they strategized and fought to recover money for the client
- If they think you have a viable case
- How they can handle complications, such as if your employer’s insurer denies your claim for benefits
Insurance Companies and Your Rights
If an insurance company representative ever tells you that you do not need a lawyer, consider it a warning sign. You have every right to hire legal representation after a workplace accident. Tell your lawyer immediately if anyone tells you otherwise.
Recover Compensation for Your Lifting Injury
A law firm that handles lifting injury cases can represent you throughout your fight for compensation. Most offer free consultations and serve clients on a contingency-fee basis and can get started on the day you contact them. Whether you work a physically demanding job, or are asked to move something heavy, you deserve to know how you will care for yourself and your family while you heal. A law firm near you can help. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.