How to Get Workers’ Comp For a Lifting Injury
We’ve all experienced it — that throbbing back pain that won’t go away, that dull ache in the neck that radiates down your arms. Or maybe it’s those cracking knees that won’t stop hurting. Millions of Americans suffer from aches and pains on a daily basis. The source of this pain differs from person to person. For some, it’s a car accident that has left them in chronic pain. For others, it’s a strenuous workout pushed too far. But for countless people across Florida and the United States, this relentless pain is the result of an on-the-job injury.
According to the National Safety Council, overexertion, including lifting, is the number one cause of workplace injuries in the United States, accounting for nearly one-third of all workplace injuries. Employees who work in transportation and warehousing are most at risk. These injuries affect the whole body and can cause extreme and intrusive pain. If you suffer a lifting injury while at work, you may qualify to make a workers’ compensation claim. To learn more, contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
Common Lifting Injuries
When we talk about lifting injuries, most people think about lower back pain. And for good reason. Over the past decade, there have been between 140,000 and 180,000 workplace-related back injuries every year. Our backs take a beating. But improper lifting can affect other parts of the body as well. Common lifting injuries include:
Shoulder injuries are relatively common, affecting millions of Americans every year. These injuries can happen when a worker lifts an object over their head, or simply from overuse. There are several different types of shoulder injuries that can affect workers. This includes:
- Dislocated shoulder
- Frozen shoulder
- Rotator cuff tear
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, though shoulder injuries don’t affect as many people as lower back injuries, they do cause workers to lose more time at work. Recent statistics show that a person with a shoulder injury misses an average of 26 days at work, more than any other type of injury. Serious shoulder injuries may require surgery which can contribute to the high number of missed days.
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Disc And Neck Injuries
Your spine consists of 24 individual vertebrae. Of these, there are seven in your neck, twelve in your mid-back, and five in your lower back. The vertebrae in your neck support your skull and allow you to move side to side. These vertebrae are cushioned by spinal discs. The discs are made of a jelly-like consistency and absorb shock between the bones.
During an injury, these discs can become damaged. When this happens, the fluid can leak out and put pressure on the surrounding nerves. When there is a small leak, the fluid may not escape the sack, but instead, put minor pressure on the nerves. Doctors refer to this as a bulging disc. In more serious cases, the fluid itself will leak, causing what is known as a herniated disc.
These injuries can be extremely painful and may require pain medication, physical therapy, chiropractic care, steroid injections, or even surgery. If you experience neck pain that won’t go away for several weeks, go to the doctor. A doctor will generally use MRI scans to diagnose herniated or bulging discs.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Aches, sprains, strains, and bruises are common lifting injuries. While these are often temporary, for some workers, pain may last for weeks. If traditional treatment does not alleviate your pain, you need to talk to a doctor. Soft tissue injuries affect various parts of the body, including:
Don’t write off this pain as normal. Pain is not normal. Pay attention to any new pain. If it persists, you may need to make a workers’ comp claim.
According to the American Chiropractic Association, back pain is the number one cause of disability in the United States. Americans miss 264 million days at work per year because of back pain. If you’ve ever experienced back pain, these numbers aren’t surprising. Back pain can be intrusive, frustrating, and often unbearable. Every day, Americans use a variety of treatments to try to alleviate this pain. This may include:
- Muscle relaxers
- Heat or cold treatment
- Chiropractic manipulation
- Steroid injections
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation
If you are experiencing back pain, you know it can make everyday tasks difficult. That’s why it’s important to get appropriate treatment to try to return to a pain-free life. Remember, rest is often the best treatment. Don’t push yourself too hard.
If you have ever worked in a job that involves lifting, you’ve probably heard the warnings to “lift with the knees.” But our knees are not unbreakable. Repeated use can cause strain and serious injury. Common knee injuries include:
- ACL injuries
- Cartilage injuries
Our knees are most vulnerable after repeated use or when lifting heavy objects. Always use safety precautions and don’t attempt to lift anything too heavy by yourself.
Who Does The Heavy Lifting?
Lifting injuries affect everyone in every industry. But there are some industries where the problem is more widespread. These areas see a high number of back-related and lifting workers’ comp claims every year. Some of the affected industries will likely come as no surprise, while others may be less expected. A few of the industries that see the most lifting injuries include:
The manufacturing industry produces many of the items we use every day. While much of the work is automated, millions of Americans work in jobs that require them to do heavy lifting on a repetitive basis. Affected workers may include production line employees, shipping workers, janitorial staff, and maintenance technicians.
According to the U.S. Census, more than 3.5 million Americans work as truck drivers. Though you may think that their job simply involves driving, for most truckers, they are responsible for loading and unloading the vehicle. Because this work happens on the road, there is not much when it comes to lifting assistance. Additionally, many drivers ride solo, meaning there is no one to assist them with heavy packages.
Nurses do an incredible amount on any given day. These individuals are responsible for the daily care of patients under their watch. Depending on the hospital and its capacity, the number of patients can vary from day to day. While nursing may not seem like a labor-intensive job, these individuals often have to help transport patients, lift patients, and reposition them. This is a lot of heavy lifting for one individual. Unlike other professions, nurses and support staff have to work with moving humans. While this may mean they might get some assistance, other times it means there are forces that are working against their lifting efforts.
Construction workers are prone to a variety of workplace injuries. These individuals work around dangerous equipment all day long. Construction sites can change day to day. It is the employer’s duty to make sure there is proper lifting assistance available and that employees are properly trained. However, often these workers are forced to go without and make do. As such, the construction industry has one of the highest rates of injury in the United States. If your employer fails to provide proper safety equipment, contact an attorney.
Safe Lifting Tips
The best way to prevent injury is to practice safe lifting techniques. When you push it too far or try to move your body into an unnatural position, injuries can occur.
These lifting tips can help reduce your chance of injury and keep you pain-free:
- Know your limits: A surefire way to injury is to lift an object that is too heavy. When you lift something that is too heavy, there is no way to maintain proper lifting techniques. Your body will move and try to adjust to compensate for the heavy-weight. Use lifting equipment if available or ask someone for help.
- Use safety equipment: The law requires all employees to provide essential safety equipment. This includes back braces if the employee will be doing heavy lifting. It may seem inconvenient or uncomfortable, but failure to use proper equipment not only increases your risk of injury, but it could also affect your workers’ comp claim.
- Move slowly: The same logic that goes with watching how much you lift goes with how fast you move. If you move too quickly, you’re more likely to lose your footing or shift what you are carrying. This can put excess stress on your body and lead to injury.
- Don’t twist: If you have to move to a different location, move your whole body, rather than twisting your torso.
- Don’t lift if you are injured: This one should be common sense. If you are already dealing with a pre-existing injury, lifting will only make your current issues worse.
What to Do After a Workplace Injury
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, lifting injuries happen. Most injuries aren’t the result of carelessness, they’re because workers are pushing to meet the demands of their employer. After an injury, it’s important to know you have rights. Laws governing workers’ comp claims can vary from state to state. For example, Florida law allows employees to file a workers’ compensation claim in the event of an injury. To be eligible, your workplace must have four or more employees, or just one if you are in the construction industry.
After an injury, preserve your rights by:
- Reporting the injury: Workers in Florida have 30 days to report any injury to their employer. The simplest way to meet this requirement is to inform your direct supervisor of your injury. Once you do this, your employer has seven days to report the injury to their insurance company.
- Seeking medical care: Florida allows employers to choose which doctors you will see. Before you schedule any appointments, ask your employer for a list of authorized providers.
- Contacting an attorney: Workers’ compensation claims are almost never straightforward, especially in the case of lifting injuries. Employers like to claim that the injury is your fault or that you did not use proper lifting techniques or equipment. However, the law allows you to make a claim even if you were partially at fault or did not use safety equipment. Do not let your employer intimidate you or talk you out of making a claim. This is illegal.
You will want to speak with a workers’ comp lawyer near you for more information about how the law applies in your state.
Seek an Experienced Florida Worker’s Compensation Attorney
A workplace injury can be confusing. It’s not unusual to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and even panicked. Unfortunately, there’s a very real issue with employees worrying about losing their job by making a workers’ compensation claim. And sadly, many employers don’t do anything to alleviate this fear. But as we said earlier, your employer does not have the right to threaten you, harass you, or retaliate against you for making a workers’ compensation claim.
The law allows you two years to make a claim for a workplace injury, assuming you notified your employer of your injury within 30 days. If you’re not sure what to do or what comes next, a workers’ compensation attorney can help. An attorney can coordinate medical care, make sure you get the proper time off of work (and accommodations when you return), talk to the insurance company, and ensure proper payment. In the event you are unable to return to your previous job, your attorney can help you understand your retraining options.
After an injury, it’s important to feel comfortable and not have to worry about your job. At the same time, it’s important to recognize your rights. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you accomplish both. If you have questions regarding a current claim or need help filing a new claim, contact an experienced Florida workers’ compensation attorney.