Following any workplace back injury, whether you suffered injuries due to repetitive stress or an acute injury, you have the right to file a workers' compensation claim.
A workman's comp claim can help provide you with critical financial benefits following your injury, many of which can make it easier for you to manage the recovery process, pay your medical bills, and keep up with your regular financial needs while you heal. However, many people wonder how much workers' comp will pay for a back injury and how much compensation they can expect as they recover. It is advisable to consult a Workers' Compensation attorney who can guide you through the process and ensure you receive the appropriate compensation you deserve during your recovery.
How Workers' Comp Works After a Back Injury?
When you suffer injuries in a workplace accident or due to repetitive stress, you generally have the right to file a workers' comp claim. It does not matter whether an act of negligence, including negligence on your own part, caused that injury.
For example, if you suffered a back injury because you failed to use proper lifting procedures, you have the right to file a workers' comp claim anyway. Likewise, if repetitive stress over years of working in a warehouse caused you to suffer chronic back pain for which you now need to pursue treatment, you can use workers' comp to help cover the cost of dealing with those damages.
You will need to report your injuries to your employer. In the case of a traumatic injury, that may mean reporting your injuries as soon as you realize them. In the case of a back injury, that may mean you seek medical attention immediately, or it might mean that you take a couple of days off work, pursuing medical attention when you realize that the pain does not go away.
After a chronic injury, that may mean issuing a report to your employer once you realize that you need time off work and medical treatment to recover.
Unlike a personal injury claim, which will generally pay out compensation in a lump sum once you reach a settlement agreement with the liable party, workman's comp claims usually get paid out over time.
What Does Workers’ Comp Cover for Back Injuries?
Workman's comp covers several important financial losses you might otherwise face while recovering from workplace injuries.
Compensation for Wage Losses After Your Back Injury
When you have to miss work because of a back injury, you can end up facing considerable wage losses. Many employers pay on an hourly basis. Even if you have sick time, you may not have adequate time to recover from serious back injuries, including chronic injuries that may require a long rest before you can get back to work.
During your recovery, workers' comp will pay out an estimated 2/3 of your weekly salary. However, workers' comp caps that amount at the state average weekly salary. You may need to carefully examine your overall salary and workers' comp policy to know how much coverage workers' comp will provide for those lost wages as you recover from your injuries.
Workers' comp salary payments for your back injury will generally continue as long as you remain out of work because of that injury. Once your doctor indicates that you can return to work, even part-time or with limitations, your workers' comp payments will stop.
Coverage for Medical Care
The cost of medical treatment for a back injury can add up substantially. Depending on what type of injury you suffer, you can find yourself facing thousands of dollars of medical costs, often for an injury you could not have prevented. Workers' comp will pay for those bills directly.
Most of the time, you will never see the bills for that treatment since your workers' comp provider will need to take care of them.
- Emergency medical care. If you had to leave work and head straight to the emergency room for a back injury, you may have ambulance transport fees and emergency room fees to worry about.
- Hospitalization. Acute back injuries may require time in the hospital for you to recover. Depending on the extent of your injuries, especially if they cause significant mobility loss, you may need to spend time in a rehabilitation facility, which workers' comp should also cover.
- Surgical treatment. Many types of back injuries will require surgery to heal properly. You may have to go through more than one medical procedure.
- Durable medical equipment. If you suffer a back injury that leads to a loss of mobility, including an injury like a spinal cord injury, you may need durable medical equipment to help you get around or to provide support. A wheelchair or crutches, for example, can help improve overall mobility after your accident.
- Physical therapy. After many types of back injuries, you may need to go through physical therapy to help you regain mobility and strength. The muscles in your back may require careful rebuilding and stretching to minimize pain and maximize function following severe injuries.
- Occupational therapy. If you suffer a back injury that leads to permanent mobility concerns, an occupational therapist can help you learn how to cope with those limitations. By working with an occupational therapist, you can reduce the strain you face and discover ways to modify your routine to account for that decreased mobility.
For workers' compensation to cover your medical treatments, you may need approval from workers' comp before you move forward with a specific appointment or treatment.
Workman's comp may control the treatments you can access, including whether you can opt for a less-invasive treatment first or when you may try other, more extensive treatments. You may have to receive approval for a specific number of physical therapy sessions or occupational therapy sessions.
Workers' comp may also have a specific list of approved medical providers and may not pay for your treatment if you pursue it outside that list. If you find yourself struggling to get approval for your medical needs following a back injury at work, a lawyer can help ensure that workers' comp takes your injuries seriously and that you get the treatment you need.
What Does Workers' Comp Pay out in Settlement for Back Injuries?
If you have a back injury from which you will not fully recover, including one that will lead to long-term limitations or inability to work, workers' comp generally will not pay out indefinitely. Instead, you may receive a settlement offer that will end workers' comp payments.
Many factors will affect your settlement, including:
- What injuries did you sustain, and how? If you suffered severe injuries, you may have the right to a larger settlement, in general, than you could claim if you suffered more minor injuries.
- What mobility issues will you face because of your back injuries? How will they limit your daily activities? Workers' comp may want to look at how much your injuries will impact your hobbies and personal interests and your ability to return to work. You may need to undergo an independent exam to assess the extent of your disability related to the back injury.
- How much pain will you face on a daily basis because of your back injuries? In many cases, you may find yourself unable to work because of ongoing pain related to your back injuries. Pain can also place substantial limitations on your overall enjoyment of life. Workers' comp may look at how much pain you will face on a regular basis, including how that pain may change over time, to get a better idea of the settlement you deserve.
- What future medical needs will you have because of your injuries? Often, back injuries will result in the need for ongoing medical procedures or support. Workers' comp may take a look at those anticipated future medical needs and offer you a settlement based on the anticipated cost of those procedures.
If you need to pursue a settlement for a back injury at work, working with a lawyer can offer more information about how large a settlement you should expect. A lawyer can help break down your long-term losses as well as workers' comp policy to give you a better idea of how you can pursue a fair settlement for those damages.
Workers' Comp Refuses to Pay for Needed Medical Treatment
Workers' comp should not deny needed medical treatment for your back injury, whether you sustained an acute traumatic injury or a repetitive stress injury. However, sometimes, workers' comp may refuse the coverage you need for those events, which can leave you scrambling to get the treatment you need. If workers' comp does not approve or pay for needed medical treatment, you may need a lawyer to help you protect your health and increase your odds of getting the care you need.
Workers' Comp Pushes You to Return to Work
When you leave work due to an injury, you need to remain out of work until you have clearance from your doctor to return. That may mean that you spend considerable time out of work, depending on the extent of your injuries. If you feel pressured to return to work before your doctor clears you, or if you find yourself working with a provider that pushes you to return to work before you feel able to handle your job duties, you may need to talk to a lawyer about your rights and how you can get a second opinion.
Workers' Comp Does Not Pay for Your Salary
Payments for your missing salary should arrive regularly once workman's comp kicks in. Unfortunately, sometimes, your payments may pile up, and you may not receive them in a timely manner. If you do not receive payment for your salary, based on the terms laid out by workers' comp, you may need to contact a lawyer to ensure that your payments make it to you in a timely manner.
You Have Injuries That Cause Permanent Limitations
Back injuries can cause ongoing pain and mobility limitations for the rest of your life. If you have an injury that will cause permanent disability, you may have the right to pursue a settlement from workman's comp. A lawyer can offer advice as you navigate that complicated situation, including providing you with vital insight about whether you have the right to pursue a settlement offer and how much compensation you should expect as part of your claim. Furthermore, a lawyer can help fight to maximize that compensation, which can provide you with the funds you need to rebuild your life despite your injuries and all the damages that went along with them.
Contact an Workers’ Compensation Attorney for More Information
Workers' comp claims for back injuries can vary depending on the extent of your injuries, how long you need to spend out of work to recover, and what challenges and setbacks you face in your recovery. If you suffered a back injury at work, do not try to handle your workers' comp claim alone or navigate it without support.
Contact a personal injury law firm in Myrtle Beach for more information about your rights. You can start with a free consultation that will offer you better insight into what to expect as you navigate your workers' comp claim.