Workplace injuries occur far too often in North Carolina, and they involve a wide variety of types and severity. Among those injuries, back injuries are probably the most common long-term ramification injuries. Injuries can occur to any portion of the spinal area from the neck down to the pelvic region. And associated damage can occur too because of the extensive number of nerves, cartilage, bones, and muscles all along the back of the body. Upper back injuries can be just as serious as lower back injuries, and many times injury in both locations can linger for a lifetime. This can be a significant issue for those suffering back injuries at work, and they are not required to be results of any one specific accident-producing injury. This is especially true with lower back injuries, as many times they are the result of overwork due to manual labor and regular heavy lifting even when the activity is not constant. The back can only endure a reasonable limit of stress, and overwork can be a definitive contributor to back problems. And this assuredly applies when the injury requires corrective surgery that often does not return to prior health status.
Recovery is rarely total when a back injury occurs, which means that workers’ compensation claims will be substantial when injured workers are properly compensated. Experienced North Carolina workers compensation lawyers understand these ramifications, and they also know what to expect from employers when they are trying to deny workplace injury claims regarding back injuries.
The first question most injured workers have is whether or not they have a workers’ compensation case. Many injuries occur over time and workers do not understand that repetitive motion work responsibilities can result in the overuse of specific regions of the body, and especially anywhere along the back area. Just because there is no accident associated with the problem does not mean that it is not work-related. The problem is that many employers and their workers’ compensation insurance providers will attempt to deny the claim based on the lack of an injury report. This is not rare, and it always takes experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers to keep both the insurance company and responsible employer honest.
What if I have worked for multiple companies?
This is a situation that can be complicated, and especially for manual labor workers. And employers will always use the short-term employment model as a defense against a claim unless it is a direct accident-related injury on the job. The typical defense is that the injury did not happen at work, as they can often occur in remote work locations as well when manual laborers and maintenance specialists are assigned duties that are not necessarily performed in a central company location. While reporting a workplace injury to a supervisor as soon as possible is the best practice and usually company and insurance law policy, this cannot always be accomplished with remote work assignments. And it always gives the employer an opportunity to attempt claiming personal responsibility for the injury, commonly requesting a drug test immediately after the report. This too is a complication that requires the advice and representation of a workers’ compensation legal professional when filing back injury claims. However, this can also be a ploy to avoid employer responsibility for filing a claim through the established workers’ compensation insurance law procedure. Workers’ compensation insurance is a “no-fault” insurance system with respect to workers for the most part unless they intentionally injure themselves, which rarely happens with a back injury.
The short answer to this question is yes, but it also often comes with extended action from the insurance provider in many cases of a back injury. Insurance providers many times will begin coverage for the injury only to stop payment of benefits during the process. This is typically done when they think they have evidence that the injury is being exaggerated with respect to the inability to work. It is also a step they take when wanting the injured worker to take a lump sum settlement as opposed to paying regular benefits over the long-term. They are already exempt from paying general damages for long-term pain-and-suffering unless under certain circumstances, and they do this merely because they can as a form of waiting the claimant out in hopes of a cost-effective payoff. However, this can also be evaluated as bad faith tactics that can result in an additional claim against the provider when aggressive workers’ compensation lawyers can prove the case in a standard court of law. All workplace injury cases are handled solely through the North Carolina Industrial Commission unless employers have violated the Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines with respect to rules and regulations. While employers are exempt from general damage claims for long-term pain and life management implications following the fact, they can still be negligent towards employees and often can be sued in a standard North Carolina or federal court when they violate or even skirt the workplace laws. This too always requires solid representation from workers’ compensation lawyers.
How much claim value does my injury carry?
This is often the most major concern for those suffering back injuries at work because the injury commonly means they cannot return to manual labor employment, and many injured workers only have experience as a manual laborer. Sedentary employees will have back injury claims many times, but their long-term implications may not apply because the back is not commonly used in work responsibilities. This can create a serious claim value reduction when it is a material fact of the case, and all employees and their insurance companies will defend vigorously when they can claim no ongoing impact. In many instances, they are also not required to cover retraining for the injured worker unless there are extenuating circumstances such as violations of OSHA standards. Age can play a factor too for many workers with back injuries, and back injuries can and do occur in repetitive movement positions even though the claimant typically is seated when working. However, workers’ compensation insurance company lawyers are quick to utilize this possible defense when cases are being negotiated, including hiring private investigation agencies to privately monitor and photograph claimants without notifying anyone of the fact until the case actually goes to the approval board. Just like many employers, insurance providers are well-known within the legal industry for being ruthless and highly deceptive when wanting to avoid or reduce claim payments.
Contact an Experienced North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney
It is always best for any worker who has suffered a back injury at work to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney even when the employer is
agreeable to the claim and the insurance company is still paying benefits. This does not mean they do not have an alternate defense in mind, and they will always use it when they can reduce claim values. Employers want to control insurance expense variables, and insurance companies want to deny as many claims as possible. They both will have their own legal teams defending their position, and especially when a bad faith claim may be established and there could be long-term damages for a career-ending back injury.