There is one thing that anyone who has experienced an injury to the neck or back understands – it hurts! When that injury has been sustained at your place of employment, you are most likely facing the additional pain of lost time on the job (which means reduced income) and extra medical expenses for treatment. Fortunately, California laws regarding workers’ compensation are on your side and allow you to receive compensation from your employer.

Workers Compensation Attorney Law Firm is a legal firm that works with people from all areas of Los Angeles, CA to ensure that any injuries received as a result of your work are fairly compensated. Whether you need assistance understanding the laws themselves, or help with filing your case with an insurance company or the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (the WCAB is the state agency that oversees workers’ compensation in California) – Workers Compensation Attorney Law Firm can help.

Common Neck Injuries at Work

There are many factors that can cause neck injuries while on the job, but some of the more common occurrences are:

  • Pinched nerves – Pinched nerves generally occur when physical exertion on the job causes bones to move or discs to rupture, literally pinching the nerves that carry sensation to the brain. This condition is extremely painful and may cause weakness in the limbs such as arms and legs.

  • Neck sprain – When ligaments in the neck become stretched, they can cause pain and stiffness that make it difficult to work.

  • Herniated discs – This condition is also known as a slipped disc or a ruptured disc and is often caused when a sudden motion of the neck puts pressure on the disc that sits between vertebrae, causing potential numbness, weakness, and pain.

  • Neck strain – Different than a sprain, this is a condition also known as whiplash. It occurs when the muscles in the neck are stretched or torn.

How Neck Injuries Can Affect You

There is considerable variation in how a neck injury received at work can affect your life. Some of the things to consider include:

  • The inability to turn your head in a certain direction, thereby limiting your ability to drive, work, and enjoy life.

  • Stiffness that makes it hard to concentrate and even accomplish the most basic functions of work and living

  • Headaches are a frequent problem with work-related neck injuries

  • Referred pain – which is pain that appears in other parts of the body such as the back, legs, or shoulders

  • Difficulty sleeping, which is a major disruption to your body’s natural rhythms and functioning

When symptoms such as these occur with little or no relief, you can feel anxious, irritable, depressed, and generally unable to function. Prompt and ongoing medical attention is very important if you have had a neck injury at work.

Back Injuries at Work

As with the neck, there are a variety of ways that you can injure your back while at work.

  • Both strains and sprains can occur in the back, usually to the ligaments or the muscles. Besides severe pain, these injuries also cause serious limitations in range of motion.

  • Spinal cord injuries result from dislocation or fracture of the spine and can lead to paralysis in the most serious cases.

  • When a disc in the back is torn to such a degree as the spinal cord fluid begins to leak out, the situation is known as a herniated disc. This brings with it increased pressure on the nerve, which brings high levels of pain.

  • A condition known as cauda equina syndrome happens when the nerves of the lower back are compressed in an injury. This can sometimes develop from a herniated disc.

How Back Injuries Can Affect You

There are a number of ways that pain in the back after an injury at work can be expressed. Some of these include:

  • A dull or burning pain in your back that may be spread over a large area, or expressed in one concentrated area.

  • Sharp pain that occurs suddenly

  • Numbness in your legs or a tingling sensation either above or below the knee

  • An achy, stiff feeling that can occur all along the spine from the neck down to the tailbone

  • Shooting pain that radiates sharply from your lower back to your buttocks; this can also run down the back of your thigh and reach as far as your calves and toes.

  • Ongoing pain (in the form of an ache) in the middle or lower part of the back; this is quite common with those who must sit or stand for long periods of time on the job.

When the pain in the back develops suddenly, it is likely to be a form of pain known as acute. Acute pain should never last more than approximately 6 weeks. If the pain is developed over a period of time, it may be a type of pain known as chronic pain. This can last for a period of months or even years.

Symptoms to pay special attention to include issues such as numbness in the legs, difficulty with urination, fever, or unintentional weight loss. If you develop any of these symptoms, you should contact your health care provider immediately.

Types of Spinal Cord Injuries in the Back and Neck

If the damage to the back is severe enough, the spinal cord may be injured for a temporary period of time or, in the most severe cases, beyond the point of recovery. Spinal cord injuries related to accidents in the workplace may include bruising (also known as a contusion), partial tearing of the spinal cord, or a complete tear of the spinal cord (also known as a transection).

There are three main types of spinal cord injuries that occur while on the job; the type of injury that you suffer will have a large effect on the amount of recovery you will be able to expect and the amount of time that it will take.

  • Tetraplegia: Also known as quadriplegia, this type of injury means that a person will lose all sensation and control of the body from the neck down.

  • Paraplegia: This condition is defined as losing sensation and control of the lower extremities of the body (from the waist down). This most often involves an injury to the spinal cord in the thoracic area. Paralysis of the legs is often a result of this type of injury.

  • Triplegia: When a person is injured and loses sensation in one arm and both legs, the condition is known as triplegia. This occurs when the injury to the spinal cord is partial, though it is serious enough to cause the loss of the ability to move.

Additionally, spinal cord injuries that happen in the workplace can have devastating effects in other areas of your body and life. These can include not only the loss of movement but also the loss of sensation – the ability to feel things like touch, heat, or cold. Loss of bladder or bowel control can result, as can changes in sexual function, fertility, and sexual sensitivity. There is also the possibility of sudden and exaggerated reflex spasms in the upper or lower extremities.

One of the most serious effects of a spinal cord injury is respiratory complication that can include difficulty breathing, clearing secretions from the lungs or persistent coughing. Though they are less frequent, there are also severe respiratory complications that can occur including pleural effusion, pneumothorax, and hemothorax.

Diagnosing Back and Neck Injuries on the Job

Back and neck injuries comprise approximately 20% of workers’ compensation claims in the state of California. Physicians sometimes have great difficulty in pinpointing the exact cause of symptoms that are related to back and neck injuries received on the job. Predicting the time needed and level of recovery from work-related back and neck injuries is also hard to accomplish. If you have been injured on the job and have pain in the back and/or neck, it is important to consult with a qualified workers’ compensation attorney so that you can get the proper medical care and have your injuries documented for future claims.

Some of the most common ways that people injure their back and neck on the job include:

  • Pushing or pulling

  • Slipping and falling

  • Lifting

  • Falling from a height

  • Bending

  • Turning or twisting

  • Vehicle accidents

  • Being hit by a moving or falling object

  • Prolonged sitting in chairs that are not ergonomic

One of the trickiest details with back and neck injuries is that, while workers can recover and return to work with proper rest and treatment, these types of injuries are highly likely to occur again when returning to the same stressful situations that caused the injury in the first place. Unfortunately, many back injuries result in either temporary or permanent disability.

An injury to the neck, lower, or upper back can result in a workers’ compensation claim. With pain radiating through the neck, arms, or legs it can be difficult for a worker to continue. Multiple areas may be affected by the same injury; it is important to notify an employer immediately when a workplace activity has caused pain in the neck or back area. California law protects workers from being penalized for reporting workplace injuries, and an experienced attorney like those at Workers Compensation Attorney Law Firm will be diligent in protecting your rights should you need to file a workers’ compensation claim.

If an Employer Disputes Your Back or Neck Injury Claim

It’s not really a secret that employers – and the insurance companies that represent them – often try to claim that injuries sustained by employees did not happen, or that they did not occur while the employee was on the job. If they must admit fault for a work-related injury, they may try to claim that the injury is less severe than it really is. You will most likely need to offer some type of proof if your claim is contested, either in a settlement hearing or before a judge if your case goes to court.

Back and neck injuries can be hard to diagnose, but there are some steps you can take to be sure your injury is well-documented. Do not hesitate to seek medical treatment and be sure the following options are considered by your physician or health-care provider:

  • X-rays can reveal damage to fractured discs or displaced vertebrae.

  • An MRI, EMG, or CT scan may be required if there is damage to any soft tissue or nerves.

  • If the source of pain cannot be documented with a test, be sure to give your physician or other medical professional a thorough and complete description of your symptoms, so that these can be recorded in your medical record.

Living with pain is not a good solution when you have been injured at work. A professional attorney like those at Workers Compensation Attorney Law Firm can help you be sure you get the treatment you need and that your injuries are documented in a thorough and timely fashion.

If your injury involves the sudden onset of pain, you should report the incident to a supervisor as quickly as possible. Ask for time off to have the pain investigated – you are entitled to this and it creates an automatic record of the event, should you need to demonstrate later that your pain is tied to a work-related incident.

A qualified workers’ compensation attorney can also assist in obtaining other supporting evidence of your work-related injury, such as getting statements from others who may have witnessed the incident or were aware that you were feeling pain while on the job.

If the type of pain you are experiencing was more gradual in its appearance, it could be that you were injured on the job as a result of repetitive motions you were required to perform. In this case, it may require an opinion from a specialist who can give expert testimony as to the cause of the pain, tying it to your work.

Types of Compensation for Back and Neck Injuries

Injuries to the back and neck – particularly when they involve the spinal cord – can have serious implications for long-term, or even permanent, disability. Your normal activities of daily living can be affected, requiring levels of care you may never have anticipated.

There are a number of types of compensation that you may be entitled to if you have suffered a back or neck injury at work. Some of these are available through the workers’ compensation system of the state of California, while others are available through private insurance or by means of a lawsuit. These types of compensation may include:

  • Costs for medical treatment

  • Reimbursement for wages lost if you are unable to work

  • Payment for hiring at-home health aides or assistants

  • Loss of consortium

  • Pain and Suffering

You could be eligible for short-term disability payments if you are likely to recover and return to work. The amount of disability pay you will receive will usually be approximately two-thirds of your normal pay – and will be subject to a weekly benefit stated in your company’s policy.

Hopefully, your injury will heal, and you will be able to return to work; however, if the injury does not heal, your eligibility for disability compensation may be considered on a permanent basis. Also, you may be entitled to a lump sum payment for the loss of your earning potential estimated over the course of what would have been your working career. A legal firm such as Workers Compensation Attorney Law Firm will be sure that you receive the full amounts to which you are entitled and will advocate aggressively on your behalf with the insurance companies and the state workers’ compensation system.

Important Things to Know About Settling Back and Neck Injury Claims

  • The value of workers’ compensation claims for a back or neck injury can be quite high. Many people underestimate the cost of treating injuries that involve the joints and spine.

  • Insurance companies are well aware of the value that back and neck injury cases have; they will often desire to have a person with a back or neck injury see a doctor for treatment as quickly as possible in hopes that the case will be settled quickly and inexpensively.

  • Sometimes, an insurance company will even delegate a nurse or other representative to attend a doctor’s examination along with the injured person. If the insurance company does not like the doctor’s evaluation, they may request a second independent medical examination with a doctor that is chosen and compensated by the insurance company.

  • An insurance company may actually tell an injured party that they will take care of everything and that hiring a qualified workers’ compensation attorney won’t be necessary.

  • While there is nothing implicitly illegal about this practice, you should always make the decision to hire an attorney based on your own insight and concerns – never on the advice of an insurance company. You want someone who has experience in understanding cases that involve back and neck injuries that have happened in the workplace, and who will look out after your best interests rather than those of the insurance company.

Settlements for Workers’ Compensation Claims in California

In California, approximately 74% of those who have experienced neck or back pain as a result of an injury on the job have received compensation in the form of a settlement. The average amount of settlements issued for neck or back injuries on the job in 2015 was around $23,000.

Nationally, the average awards for claims involving back and neck injuries were as follows:

  • Neck only $20,953

  • Neck & Head $16,916

  • Neck & Shoulder $31,375

  • Neck & Shoulder & Arms $31,862

  • Neck & Low Back $18,804

  • Neck & Low Back & Shoulder $25,346

  • Neck & Head & Shoulders $30,707

These payments are primarily paid and administered by private parties such as insurance companies and employers’ self-insurance funds, though they are overseen by the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB). The WCAB is formed to provide regulation and resolve disputes, should they arise.

Insurance carriers that provide workers’ compensation services and payments must be licensed by the state of California to transact Workers’ Compensation business. There is also an entity known as the State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF) that provides coverage for employers that cannot obtain coverage in the private insurance market. Additionally, there is a California state Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund (UEBTF) that operates to protect workers who are injured when their employers have failed to maintain the required workers’ compensation benefits.

Employees have up to five years in the state of California to file a workers’ compensation claim, though it is always best to do so as soon as possible in order to avoid delay in receiving payment. One of the ways Workers Compensation Attorney Law Firm can assist you is in gathering and completing all the necessary paperwork to file your claim for workers’ compensation for your neck or back injury.

Finding a Back and Neck Injury Workers’ Compensation Attorney Near Me

Workers’ compensation protection is a valuable asset for every employee; however, the rules and regulations involved can be complicated and difficult to understand. Also, while you are injured from a workplace incident, you will need to concentrate on your medical treatment and recovery. You do not need the added stress of dealing with insurance company representatives and attorneys that are hired to guard the bottom line of the insurance company and your employer. You need a legal team on your side that is dedicated to protecting your rights and obtaining the full amount of compensation that you are entitled to.

Workers Compensation Attorney Law Firm in Los Angeles, CA is on your side and will help to ease the burden of filing and following up on all the needed paperwork for your case. They will talk tough with the attorneys who are on the other side and will always explain your options clearly and in a manner that you can understand.

Call the legal professionals at Workers Compensation Attorney Law Firm today at 310-956-4277. We will work for you!