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What to Do If You Injure Your Back at Work

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diagram of human spinal cord and vertebra

Back injuries are some of the most common injuries that workers report occurring because of their work duties. Back injuries can be severe and require prompt treatment and diagnosis to determine if the injury is soft tissue in nature, or in more extreme injuries, involves the vertebrae, a disc, or the nerves, which pass through “tunnels” between the vertebrae, and lead to your muscles. Injuries to the back that also injure one or more nerves can cause feelings of numbness, tingling, pain, “pins and needles” sensations, muscle weakness, or other symptoms, which must be evaluated by a trained physician who is at least experienced, if not an actual expert, in treating back injuries. Back injuries can include the neck (cervical spine), mid-back (thoracic spine), low back (lumbar spine), sacrum/coccyx (tailbone), or a combination of more than one spinal segment.

Back injuries can occur via one of two methods: accidents and repetitive trauma. The Missouri worker’s compensation law defines an accident as “[a]n unexpected traumatic event or unusual strain identifiable by time and place of occurrence and producing at the time objective symptoms of an injury caused by a specific event, during a single work shift.” An injury by accident is compensable only if the accident was the prevailing factor, causing both the resulting medical condition and the resulting disability. The worker’s compensation law defines “prevailing factor” to be “the primary factor, in relation to any other factor, in causing both the resulting medical condition and disability.”

Injuries that occur by accident must be reported to your employer as soon as possible, and no later than 30 days after they occur.

Repetitive back injuries, where the injured worker is engaged in repetitive lifting, bending, or twisting tasks, for example, over a long period of employment, but without the occurrence or evidence of a single workday or task which caused the injury, can also be compensable in Missouri. The Missouri worker’s compensation law qualifies these types of injuries as “occupational disease” claims, which are defined as “an identifiable disease arising with or without human fault out of and in the course of the employment.” The statute indicates that the disease need not have been foreseen or expected, but after its contraction, it must appear to have had its origin in a risk connected with the employment and to have flowed from that source as a rational consequence.

Injuries that occur by repetitive trauma must be reported to your employer as soon as possible as well, and no later than 30 days after a doctor tells you the injury is related to your work and caused by your work.  

Hire a Lawyer You Can Trust

If you were injured while working at your job or have learned that your medical condition is related to your work conditions, you might be entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer’s insurance carrier. In most cases, hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer to handle your claim is best. This is especially true in serious injuries, like cases involving an injury to your back and spine. An experienced lawyer can guide you through the claims process and help you recover all the benefits that you deserve.

Once you have consulted a few attorneys, you should have a good idea of how they handle cases, their experience, and their professionalism. You can then choose the attorney that you feel you can trust to handle your claim.

To learn more about your potential workers’ compensation claim, call the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave today to schedule a free consultation at 417-322-2222 (Springfield) or 417-624-4258 (Joplin). You can also contact us online.