If a work-related accident results in a neck or back injury that prevents an employee from working, the victim may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Injured employees are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Unfortunately, employees do not always receive the benefits they are owed.
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When an employer or its insurance company fails to provide appropriate workers’ compensation benefits following a workplace accident, victims may wish to file a claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC). Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys can assist victims with the preparation of a workers’ compensation claim so that it is filed in a timely manner and includes the necessary supporting information. Additionally, skilled accident and injury attorneys able to assess whether victims might be able to recover additional compensation by filing a third-party claim.
Work-Related Neck and Back Injuries Are No Laughing Matter
Work-related accidents cause more than one million back and neck injuries every year, accounting for one out of every five work illnesses and injuries in the workplace. Despite the fact that most treatments are ineffective, back and neck pain is an expensive condition in the United States, with treatment costing more than $88 billion each year- and that number continues to rise.
This worldwide epidemic was the leading cause of disability in most countries in 2015 and the second most common reason for absence in the workplace- after the common cold. When victims suffer back and neck injuries at work, recovery time can turn into weeks, months, or even years. For many, full recovery never comes. And since health care expenditures for neck and back pain sufferers are about 60% higher than they are for people without this condition, medical costs can quickly become overwhelming.
Fortunately, victims of work-related back and neck injuries can recover the costs associated with their conditions. Under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, injured workers can recover the following worker’s compensation benefits:
- Medical expenses
- Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits equal to two-thirds of the worker’s average gross weekly wage, up to a weekly maximum payment
- Permanent total disability (PTD) or permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits, which are often paid as lump-sum payments
- Vocational rehabilitation benefits
What Causes Back and Neck Injuries in the Workplace?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 25% of work-related ergonomic injuries are associated with just six occupations. Workers in the trucking industry suffer the most back and neck injuries, and those in healthcare occupations are approximately 4.5 times more likely to sustain these types of work injuries than most other occupations. Other workers at high risk include laborers, stock and material movers, janitors, and maintenance and repair workers. Back injuries, such as a herniated disc, sprain, or fractured vertebrae, are common.
Back and neck injuries can occur in a workplace accident, such as a slip and fall, or they can develop over time as a result of repetitive motion during work-related activities. Repetitive motion injuries can occur in a number of jobs and industries, not just dangerous jobs that are susceptible to workplace accidents. In fact, according to an article in Safety and Health Magazine, seventy-three percent of coffee shop workers studied said they experience low back pain, and about half of that group attributed the pain to their jobs. Sixty-eight percent of those studied said they experience shoulder pain, with half attributing the pain to work duties.
Despite the prevalence of work-related back and neck injuries, it can be difficult to obtain workers’ compensation benefits for these conditions. These injuries can be difficult to prove. Employers and their insurance companies often argue that a back or neck injury was not caused by the employee’s job, but is attributable to some other cause, such as a slip and fall somewhere else, a car accident, or a sports-related incident.
Because workers’ compensation claims for neck and back problems present unique issues regarding medical documentation and causal connection, many people consult with a skilled workers’ compensation attorney to help ensure the successful outcome of their cases.