If I injure my back at work, is compensation available?

Back-Related Work Injuries and Available CompensationIn 2015, more than 155,000 American workers suffered a back injury on the job. Back injuries are among the most common work-related injuries, and they affect employees in a wide variety of fields. Whether you sit at a desk all day or if your job requires continuous physical exertion, workers of all kinds have experienced this painful and debilitating type of injury. Fortunately, the workers’ compensation system does address back injuries, and compensation is available for injured Iowa employees.

Common Causes of Work-Related Back Injuries in Iowa

Back injuries can result from a wide variety of causes. They can occur after a single incident or over time after many smaller, repetitive injuries. Some of the most common factors that contribute to a back injury include:

  • Poor posture
  • Repetitive lifting and twisting
  • Heavy lifting
  • Maintaining bent posture
  • Vibration (typically associated with machinery or large trucks)
  • Unstable footing (slippery floors, uneven floors)
  • Lack of strength or endurance for work tasks

These factors and more contribute to a large number of back injuries every year. While it can be difficult to avoid some of these situations in different types of jobs, employees can take care to ensure they are following all the proper precautions to protect their health.

Recognize the Symptoms of a Back Injury to Obtain Treatment and Compensation

Unfortunately, these injuries do occur despite care and precautions. In some cases, the injury is so traumatic that is clear medical attention is needed and needed immediately. Often, however, the signs and symptoms of these injuries are ignored or overlooked over time. Workers attribute their pain to simple daily fatigue or aging. This can be troublesome for both your health and your workers’ compensation claim. Injured employees should seek care as soon as they experience any injury. Though every person may experience symptoms differently, some common signs of a back injury include:

  • Muscle ache
  • Shooting or stabbing pain
  • Pain that radiates down into your legs
  • Numbness or weakness in the extremities
  • Stiffness
  • Hunching posture
  • Difficulty breathing or coughing
  • Reduced range of motion or flexibility

It is possible to experience a wide range of symptoms, so whether you have been involved in an accident at work or you begin to develop symptoms over time, it is important to seek medical advice as soon as possible.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Back Injuries in Iowa

Many back injuries can be successfully treated with the proper medical care. These injuries can be difficult to address, however, as they can linger or even cause permanent damage. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), back injury is the leading cause of disability for employees. The Iowa workers’ compensation system offers a number of medical care and wage replacement benefits that cover a wide range of circumstances. Employees who suffer a back injury may be eligible for:

  • Temporary partial disability
  • Temporary total disability
  • Healing period
  • Permanent partial disability
  • Permanent total disability

Typically, these benefits offer up to 80 percent of the employee’s weekly spendable earnings, based on the income earned in the time leading up to the injury. These payments can be awarded for as long as the injury prevents the employee from returning to work—for a period of weeks, months, or even years.

What Is an Industrial Injury, and How Does it Affect My Compensation?

Permanent back injuries are somewhat unique in that they can be considered as what is known as an industrial disability. This refers to disabilities that affect the body as a whole, rather than one specific scheduled member. Compensation for these types of injuries is based on a medical exam. A doctor will determine the level of impairment and offer a rating as a percentage. Payment will be awarded equal to that percentage. This determination is critical, as it directly affects the compensation an injured employee can receive. There are no specific guidelines that state how the specific factors should be considered, so every case is unique.

An experienced attorney can be extremely helpful in cases involving back injuries. Insurance companies will seek any reason to avoid payment, including questioning the nature and timeline of the injury—especially for cumulative injuries—as well as the impairment rating. At Pothitakis Law Firm, our dedicated Iowa workers’ compensation legal team helps injured workers prepare and state a comprehensive case to ensure they are able to obtain the maximum amount of compensation available. If you or someone you love has suffered a work-related back injury, call our office nearest you, or fill out the contact form on this page for a prompt response from our team.