Over a million of us in the U.S. sustain job-related back injuries every year, according to a study conducted recently at the University of Minnesota. A back injury is the reason for one out of every four missed work days in the United States.
Everyone who is employed has a right to expect that their employers will make workplaces reasonably safe.
Are you at risk for a back injury at your own place of work? If you sustain a back injury at work, how can you be compensated? Will you have the right to file a lawsuit?
WHO QUALIFIES FOR WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BENEFITS?
Obviously, if you are not able to work, you are going to face some financial issues. In the state of Indiana, as you probably already know, most workers who are injured on the job will qualify to collect workers’ compensation benefits.
Workers’ compensation satisfies your employer’s responsibility to you after a work-related injury. Worker’s comp pays for the medical expenses of injured workers, and it partially replaces their lost wages.
In return, workers in Indiana do not have to take any legal action against their employers or prove that their employers were guilty of any negligence.
Most employees who sustain back injuries return quickly to their jobs, but about one in five miss more than a month of work.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF A SERIOUS BACK INJURY?
While most studies and statistics focus on the lost profits and lost productivity linked to job-related back injuries, if you are the person who has sustained a serious back injury, you are much more concerned with your physical condition and your capacity to function.
A spinal cord injury may be caused by a blow to the back that dislocates, fractures, or crushes one or more vertebrae.
Often, a spinal cord injury is not immediately detectable, but in the following days, a victim may experience swelling, inflammation, bleeding, and fluid accumulating in and around the spinal cord.
A spinal cord injury may impair all or some of the muscles and nerves below the injury area. A lower back (lumbar) injury can affect the legs, the torso, a person’s bowel and bladder control, and even a person’s sexual function.
IF YOU SUSTAIN A BACK INJURY, WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT?
If you suffer a back injury, you must seek medical attention at once.
Back injuries can cause severe pain, numbness, and tingling sensations, and they can substantially restrict someone’s mobility. Routines such as bathing or dressing can become difficult, and a back injury victim may require a walker, a cane, or a wheelchair.
About 12,000 spinal cord injuries are reported each year in the U.S. About a quarter-of-a-million people are currently living in the United States with a spinal cord injury. Spinal cord injuries are a leading cause of permanent disability in both adults and children.
WHEN SHOULD YOU FILE FOR WORKERS’ COMPENSATION?
If you have sustained a back injury on the job, file a workers’ compensation claim immediately. If you wait, it’s possible that your worker’s comp payments could be delayed or possibly even denied.
Workers’ compensation is helpful, but if you have sustained a catastrophic, long-term, or permanent spinal cord injury, workers’ comp and even Social Security disability benefits will not be adequate for your family’s needs and your long-term medical expenses.
WHAT ABOUT HEALTH INSURANCE?
Health insurance – if you have it – usually will pay for a spinal cord injury victim’s treatment in the “acute” recovery stage, but health insurers limit what they will pay for rehabilitation.
In fact, most policies specify that a health insurer will pay for inpatient rehabilitation for no more than six weeks. When a patient is making genuine progress, a health insurer can decide, “That’s all.”
But if you have suffered a serious spinal cord injury, you are going to need more. You will need substantial compensation for long-term treatment, surgeries, and rehab.
HOW CAN AN ATTORNEY HELP?
When you submit a workers’ compensation claim for a back injury in Indiana, have an experienced injury lawyer review your paperwork for completeness and accuracy, and ask that lawyer to explain your options and recommend the best way to move forward.
It is critical for you to seek legal advice after a job-related back injury. Your health, your family, and your future must be your paramount priorities.
Workers in Indiana should also know that workers’ comp – with its restricted benefits – is not always the only recourse that an injured worker has in our state.
WHAT IS A “THIRD-PARTY” PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUIT?
If a third party – a party other than your employer – has any responsibility for a workplace injury in Indiana, that party may be sued for damages.
If you have suffered a serious spinal cord injury or any other permanently disabling or catastrophic injury, you will need to obtain the maximum available damages.
That third party could be a person, a business, a property owner, a manufacturer, or a state or local government or government agency responsible for a hazard at your place of work.
WHAT WILL IT COST YOU TO LEARN MORE?
A qualified personal injury attorney can review your case for free – and without obligation – so it costs nothing to learn more about your rights and where you stand legally after a job-related injury.
You will get the sound legal advice you need. If your lawyer recommends that you pursue a third-party personal injury claim, you will pay no attorney’s fee until your lawyer obtains an out-of-court settlement or a jury verdict on your behalf.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ON-THE-JOB SAFETY?
Employers have the obligation to ensure that workplaces are reasonably safe, but realistically, workplace safety is everyone’s responsibility.
Whether you work at a construction site or a quiet office, always make the effort to keep the space around you safe. If a situation at your workplace poses a potential safety hazard, resolve it promptly, or report it immediately to someone who can.
If you are injured at your place of work, consult right away with an Evansville personal injury attorney who will advise you about the worker’s comp process in our state and determine if you have grounds to file a third-party injury claim.
If you sustain a serious back injury at work, you still must be able to meet your responsibilities, so it is critical – and it is also your right – to seek and obtain the legal help you need.