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Workers’ Comp Settlements for a Back Injury

Workers’ Comp Settlements for a Back Injury

Back injuries can lead to painful and sometimes permanent complications, including the inability to work over an extended period. In some circumstances, individuals suffer these injuries while performing strenuous job duties. People who work in the building and construction industries are especially susceptible to back injuries because they often work atop tall ladders and scaffolding. They may also have to push or pull heavy equipment and machinery daily. However, individuals who work in a traditional office setting may also suffer a severe back injury, such as in a slip and fall accident.

If you recently sustained a back injury while you were on the job, consider your legal options. After you seek the prompt medical treatment you need for your back injury, consult a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer in your area as quickly as possible.

Your lawyer can evaluate your claim and explore your legal options with you. Those options may include filing a workers’ compensation claim with your employer’s insurance company and/or filing a third-party personal injury claim against a negligent individual or entity.

Also, throughout the process, your attorney can answer all of your legal questions and help you make important decisions throughout your case. Those decisions may include accepting or rejecting a settlement offer from your employer’s insurance company or whether to settle/litigate your third-party claim.

Your attorney can recover the fair monetary benefits and damages you deserve for your work-related back injury.

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Common Back Injuries that Workers May Suffer on the Job

Experienece Lawyer for Workers' Comp in Orange County areaWorkers, especially builders and individuals who work in the construction industry, may suffer a severe back injury while they are on the job performing strenuous job duties. Those injuries typically happen when a worker falls from a significant height and lands on their neck or back.

The severity of a worker’s back injury typically depends on the type of accident, the amount of force involved, and how the worker lands on the ground.

Common back injuries that a worker may suffer in an accident include:

  • Cervical injuries, including injuries to the neck and upper back
  • Soft tissue whiplash injuries
  • Vertebrae fractures
  • Full or partial spinal cord damage, such as a pinched nerve or severed nerve
  • Full or partial paralysis, which may limit or impair an individual’s bodily movements, both presently and in the future

If you suffered any of these injuries in a recent work accident, you should undergo all of the medical treatment needed to recover as much as possible. For example, you might need to consult with a chiropractor, orthopedic doctor, primary care physician, or other medical provider. Additionally, you may need to undergo ongoing physical therapy treatment for your back injury.

Often, medical care for a back injury includes:

  • Imaging tests to diagnose the specific problem, including MRIs and X-rays
  • Medication for pain management
  • Braces or other medical equipment
  • Orders of bed rest from your doctor
  • Specialist visits to orthopedists
  • Surgery
  • Physical and occupational therapy

Treatment can be expensive and costly, but your workers’ compensation claim should secure financial coverage of all your medical expenses. If you need ongoing medical care into the future, your claim should remain open and continue to cover your medical care.

Failing to follow through with your treatment regimen, or discharging yourself early from treatment, usually does not bode well for a workers’ compensation claim.

In fact, the insurance company frequently looks at these circumstances skeptically, believing that the accident victim did not suffer a severe back injury in their workplace accident. Consequently, the insurance company may be less inclined to offer the accident victim significant monetary benefits for their back injury.

By treating continuously for your injuries and waiting for a medical provider to formally discharge from treatment, you increase your chances of making a full recovery. You also show your employer’s insurance company that your severe injuries warrant significant monetary benefits.

While you complete your medical treatment regimen, your attorney can start gathering the necessary documentation on your behalf, including copies of your medical treatment records. Your lawyer can then submit these documents to your employer’s insurance company as part of your workers’ compensation claim for benefits.

Work Accidents that May Cause a Back Injury

Several types of work accidents may cause a back injury, but a severe fall is the most common cause. Many workers must work atop tall ladders, scaffolding, and other high and dangerous equipment in the building and construction industries.

If they fall to the ground and land on their back, they may suffer a debilitating injury, such as a vertebrae fracture or permanent spinal cord injury. On the other hand, office workers can suffer a back injury if they are involved in a slip and fall accident at their workplace.

Worksite back injuries may also happen when an individual is involved in a motor vehicle crash that another driver causes. For example, while driving a work vehicle, a rear-end accident can cause their back to move abruptly forward and backward, resulting in a soft tissue back injury.

If you suffered a back injury in one of these types of workplace accidents, you should immediately seek the legal help you need. Your attorney can review your circumstances and determine your eligibility for successfully filing a workers’ compensation claim for benefits. If you can move forward, your lawyer can help you recover the monetary benefits you deserve.

Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim Arising from a Back Injury

If you suffered a back injury while on the job, you may pursue a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Under state laws, workers’ compensation benefits are no-fault benefits. This makes the benefits available to injured workers regardless of how their accident occurred and who bears fault for the accident.

To recover workers’ comp benefits, an injured worker only needs to establish that:

  • They are an employee, not an independent contractor
  • They suffered their injury at their job
  • At the time of injury, they worked within the scope of their employment or performed a work-related duty

Sometimes, employers will blur the distinction between employees and independent contractors. Generally, an employee has far less control over their work hours and payment than an independent contractor. Moreover, an employee typically receives a W-2 tax form, while an independent contractor receives a Form-1099.

While an employee can make a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, an independent contractor generally cannot.

If you can pursue a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, your attorney can assist you with every step of the process, including all negotiations with insurance company representatives. Your lawyer can also take your case to a hearing if the insurance company refuses to favorably settle your workers’ comp case.

Recoverable Workers’ Comp Benefits for Back Injuries

In a workers’ compensation claim that involves a back injury, a worker may be entitled to receive several different types of benefits, depending upon their circumstances and the extent of their injury.

First, an injured worker may recover benefits that cover their related medical expenses. Following a back injury, medical costs can mount up quickly. An injured worker can receive coverage of doctor bills, medical procedures, and physical therapy as part of a workers’ compensation claim.

In addition, injured workers can recover monetary compensation for a portion of their lost income. This is because many workers who suffer back injuries have to miss time from their work to attend medical appointments and fully recover from their injuries.

Next, individuals who suffer a back injury while on the job can recover vocational rehabilitation benefits. These benefits help injured workers find a job if their injuries prevent them from continuing with their current employment.

Finally, an injured worker who suffers a back injury may recover various types of permanency benefits. To qualify for permanency benefits, a worker must introduce a medical record where a provider states, to a reasonable degree of medical probability, that the worker suffered a permanent injury in their workplace occurrence.

Unlike most injuries that recover with time, a permanent injury is unlikely to improve. Moreover, a permanent back injury may cause ongoing pain, paralysis, and other medical complications for the rest of an accident victim’s life.

A workers’ compensation attorney can review your circumstances with you and determine which of these benefits you may receive as part of your claim.

Will My Workers’ Comp Case Settle Without a Hearing?

Some workers’ compensation claims settle at some point along the way without needing a hearing. Two types of settlements may occur. In one circumstance, the injured worker and the employer’s insurance company might agree to a permanency rating percentage.

This percentage translates into a certain number of weeks of compensation and leads to a specific amount of money called permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. At other times, the parties may settle a workers’ compensation claim when the insurance company offers a lump sum as a final settlement to resolve the case.

However, if the injured worker agrees to accept a lump sum settlement in their case, they cannot reopen their claim at a later time if their medical condition worsens.

A skilled workers’ compensation attorney can help you decide whether you should accept a particular settlement offer from your employer’s insurance company or take your case to a hearing for a resolution. Whatever you decide, your lawyer will help you secure the best possible result in your workers’ compensation claim.

Can I File a Third-party Personal Injury Claim Arising from my Work Accident?

In addition to bringing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, an injured worker who suffers a back injury may also file a third-party personal injury claim against a negligent individual or entity other than their employer.

Injured workers can file a companion third-party claim due to a:

  • Motor vehicle accident, where a third party drove recklessly or carelessly or otherwise violated one or more traffic laws, causing an accident
  • Product malfunctions that led to an explosion or other incident on a job site
  • Slips and falls, where the property owner negligently failed to maintain the premises safely and carefully for the benefit of workers

The injured worker must establish several legal elements to successfully recover monetary damages as part of a third-party personal injury claim. First, they must show that the other individual or entity owed them a legal duty of care they later violated. This duty-of-care violation must have caused the subject accident, leading to their back injury.

If the accident victim can establish these legal elements, they can recover various types of monetary damages and the workers’ compensation benefits they have already recovered.

Those additional damages may include financial compensation for:

  • Inconvenience
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental distress
  • Loss of spousal consortium
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of the ability to use a body part
  • Loss of sensation in one or more body parts
  • Permanent disability or disfigurement

The right workers’ compensation lawyer can help you set realistic expectations for your case and help you pursue the third-party damages you deserve to recover in addition to your workers’ compensation benefits.

Contact a Workers’ Comp Lawyer in Your Area Right Away

Greg Bentley & Keith More - Experienced Workers' Comp cases lawyer in Orange County area

Greg Bentley & Keith More Workers’ Comp Attorney in Orange County area

If you recently sustained a back injury in a workplace accident, you should immediately take the necessary legal steps. A workers’ compensation lawyer can execute these options and pursue the monetary benefits and personal injury damages you deserve.

In addition to filing the appropriate claim on your behalf, your attorney can represent you at all legal proceedings, including workers’ compensation hearings and various proceedings in civil court, to help you maximize and recover the monetary benefits and damages you deserve for your injuries. Importantly, your personal injury attorney in Orange County can do this for you while you focus on recovering from your injuries.

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Seeking a settlement for back injuries? Our skilled workers' compensation attorneys can advocate for your rights and secure rightful compensation. Call us now.