Back Injuries & Workers’ Compensation Claims
Workplace back injuries, which are typically the result of overexertion in physically taxing industries such as construction, transportation, retail, warehousing, and agriculture, are among the most common workplace injuries. Back injuries suffered at work impact more than 1 million American workers annually and rank second only to the common cold for total lost days of work.
Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicates that back injuries alone account for nearly 20 percent of all workplace injuries and illnesses nationally. In Pennsylvania, workplace back injuries make up 12.1% of all workplace injuries according to 2018 Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry.
Many employees who suffer a workplace back injury are unfamiliar with Pennsylvania workers’ compensation eligibility requirements. As such, it is important to understand the specific types of injuries that qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, how to file a workers’ compensation claim, the types and amount of compensation to expect based on that injury, and how an attorney can assist in the claims process.
Can I File a Workers’ Comp Claim for a Back Injury?
Yes. Workers who experience back injuries on the job may be eligible for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
The vast majority of worker’s compensation back injury claims are the result of sprains (torn ligaments from sudden movements) and strains (overused or overstretched muscles) suffered during physical activity at work. In Pennsylvania, for example, these injuries account for roughly 70% of all back-injury claims.
In addition to sprains and strains, common workplace back injuries include:
- Prolapsed or herniated discs (loss of the spine’s cushioning ability)
- Tendon damage
- Ligament damage (other than sprains)
- Soft tissue damage
- Paraplegia (and other spinal cord injuries)
- Pinched nerves
- Fractured vertebrae
How Can I Make a Back Injury Claim?
The workers’ compensation claims process can be a daunting task for those who’ve recently suffered a back injury at work. However, to receive benefits, you must ensure your claim is filed properly and filed within the Pennsylvania worker’s compensation filing deadlines.
To properly file a workers’ compensation claim in Pennsylvania, an injured employee should:
1. Report the injury to your employer.
Reports should be made within the first 21 days of injury to ensure retroactive benefits from the date of injury. If the injury is not reported within the first 21 days, report it no later than 120 days following the injury to maintain eligibility for benefits from the date of notice.
2. Seek immediate medical attention and tell your doctor that the injury is work-related.
To ensure your medical records are consistent with your workers’ compensation claim, you must tell your medical provider that your back injury is work-related.
Under Pennsylvania law, medical treatment must be sought within the first 90 days of notice to your employer. In certain instances, you will be required to choose an employer-approved medical provider. After the first 90 days, however, you may independently choose your own medical provider.
3. File your workers’ compensation claim.
This step of the process takes place after your employer submits their First Report of Injury to the state. While these claims generally do not take this long, there is a three-year deadline from the date of injury to file a claim (and maintain your eligibility for benefits).
Consulting with an attorney during this process can assist in maximizing your compensation benefits and ensuring your claim is filed properly.
How Common is a Back Injury at Work?
Throughout Pennsylvania and the U.S., back injuries are consistently the most common workplace injury suffered by employees. As noted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, back injuries account for roughly 1 in 5 of all workplace injuries nationally and only a slightly lesser percentage within Pennsylvania (12.1% in 2018).
Are Back Injuries Common in Certain Industries?
Because of their relation to overexertion and physical activity, back injuries are most common in physically intensive industries such as:
- Construction (Laborers and Freighters)
- Manufacturing (Stock and Material Movers)
- Transportation (Truck/Tractor Trailer Drivers)
- Waste Management (Janitors and Cleaners)
Back injuries are also very common in these sectors:
- Health Services (Nursing Assistants and Registered Nurses)
- Trade (Repair Workers)
- Professional and Business Services (Maintenance Workers)
- Public Administration (Assistants)
What Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits Can I Get?
Depending on the type of workplace back injury and its severity, the Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Act states that employees are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in the form of:
- Replacement of lost wages (weekly installments or lump-sum settlements)
- Payment of medical expenses
- Specific loss benefits (loss of limb/loss of use of limb)
- Disfigurement benefits
- Subsequent injury benefits
The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act protects employees by providing full medical treatment coverage, replacement of lost wages, and specific loss benefits to those who suffer workplace injuries.
Generally speaking, the workers’ compensation benefits an injured employee will receive are determined by the type and severity of the injury they suffer, as well as the time the injury forces an employee to miss work.
How Much Compensation Can I Expect for a Workplace Back Injury?
Workers’ compensation benefits are determined based on a wide range of criteria, including:
- Severity and classification of the injury
- Wage loss from the injury
- Medical expenses
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) estimates the average cost of a workplace back-injury worker’s compensation claim to be between $40,000 and $80,000.
In Pennsylvania, weekly compensation loss benefits are generally provided at between 66.6% and 90% of average weekly wage (AWW) and capped at $1,025.00 per week.
Below is a table for expected compensation based on OSHA figures (for lump-sum settlements). Settlements will be negotiated based on total costs.
|Severity of Back Injury||Estimated Compensation Amounts||Types of Injury|
|Mild||$40,000 – $53,333||Soft tissue, muscular pain, slipped discs, etc.|
|Moderate to Severe||$53,333 – $66,666||Ligament damage, extreme soft tissue damage, chronic pain, herniated discs, etc.|
|Extremely Severe||$66,666 – $80,000||Paraplegia, loss of use injuries, paralysis, etc.|
Workers’ Comp Lawyers for Back Injury Claims
To ensure your maximum settlement offer and/or compensation benefits in the event of a workplace back injury, it is essential to work with a qualified and experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
The highly qualified and dedicated team of attorneys at Krasno, Krasno, & Onwudinjo is here to assist you in all aspects of your back injury workers’ compensation claim.
To schedule a free consultation, contact us today via email or call us at (844) 243-4849 or toll-free at 877-794-2396.