Workersâ€™ Compensation for Back Injuries Overview
- Truck drivers
- Manual laborers
- Construction workers
- Automotive technicians
- Healthcare workers
- Foodservice workers
- Hospitality workers
- Office workers
Workersâ€™ CompensationWorkers’ compensation is an insurance program that helps with and provides benefits and medical care for workers that have been injured or fallen ill resulting directly from their job. This means if an individual is injured at work, employers have negotiated to free themselves of a majority of the liability by paying for the treatment and recovery. Companies that employ five-hundred or more are able to manage their own workersâ€™ compensation program. However, most workersâ€™ compensation programs are managed by state governments. Every state has its own workersâ€™ compensation program that employers pay into. The federal government handles the federal workersâ€™ compensation program for federal employees. The program is funded by the employer with the cost not affecting an individual’s paycheck.
Workersâ€™ Compensation CoverageCompensation programs are different throughout the country. Typically workersâ€™ compensation pays for:
- Initial emergency department
- Urgent care visit
- Diagnostic testing recommended by the emergency department
- Follow-up physician
- Surgical intervention
High Risk for Back Injury on the JobEmployees that are involved in physical labor like construction, factory work, and healthcare work have a higher risk of getting a back injury on the job. These injuries are often the result of:
- Improper lifting techniques
- Repetitively turning
- Twisting while lifting
- Holding something heavy
- Lifting heavy objects above the head
- Using the back muscles instead of the hips and legs when lifting bending of the knees and bringing heavy objects close to the core
Injury ReportA back injury should be reported to the supervisor or the companyâ€™s human resources department. Depending on the state, there is a statute of limitations to file an injury claim. For example, an individual has one year from the date of injury to file a workersâ€™ compensation claim with the supervisor or human resources department. However, it is best to report the injury and seek medical attention as soon as possible after being injured at work. The longer the wait, the more the employer could dispute the legal validity of a workersâ€™ compensation claim.
Injury QualificationIf injured at work, assume the injury will be covered by workersâ€™ compensation. However, it is not always completely clear. An individual could be injured at a work-related cookout or working from home and trip down the stairs. These are gray areas and are very new as more people working from home. These kinds of workersâ€™ comp claims are now starting to be seen. Whatever the event, report injury/s to the employer. If the situation is untraditional, there could be some back and forth with the employer.
Spine Specialist ReferalTo receive work comp treatment patients with back injuries will be referred to an occupational therapy clinic. An occupational therapist or clinic will set up the treatment. This could include:
- Physical therapy
- CT scan
Employer and the Spine SpecialistIn most states, employers will request a copy of the treatment plan and spine surgeonâ€™s clinical notes written about the case during office or telemedicine appointments. Doctors have to provide clinic notes and treatment plans to the human resources departments along with the workersâ€™ compensation insurance carrier. Consistent, active communication goes on between the primary doctor, the companyâ€™s human resources department, and the insurance carrier. Note that workersâ€™ compensation is exempt from HIPAA privacy regulations. Employers and the workersâ€™ compensation insurance carrier have access to medical records related to the back injury. But medical information unrelated to the injury is restricted.
Obtaining Workersâ€™ Compensation From a DoctorGenerally, no. Obtaining Workersâ€™ comp is between the individual and their employer, not the doctor. Sometimes doctors are asked to determine if an individual’s injury/s are work-related. This involves going through medical records but these requests are rare.
Benefits DurationIt depends on the case and where an individual lives. Every state is its own system. In some states, treatment can be ongoing for as long as treatment is needed and is consistent. What is highly recommended is meeting with a workersâ€™ compensation attorney in your state when beginning the process to learn your rights and the process. This can help in preventing issues from popping up like an employer pressuring a worker to come back before a doctor has cleared them to return.
Making Most of Workersâ€™ CompKeep appointments and be compliant with the doctor’s treatment plan and recommendations. Be transparent with the doctor. Not telling them exactly what is happening will not help in their recovery. If there is an improvement from the treatment/s fantastic, but if there are minimal to no improvements be as descriptive as possible about what is happening and what does work. The goal is to work with a clinical team that can get an individual better back to work and normal activities.