What to Do About Back Pain After a Work Accident
We're only human.
Our bodies are fragile, and we're not infallible. More often than not, many of us are working ourselves to injury while we're struggling with the pressures of work.
And with over one million back injuries happening every year at work, a lot of the damage we're doing is to our backs.
Back pain after an accident doesn't always occur straight away, either. You might suddenly lift a box that's too heavy and strain it, or you might build up an injury slowly until eventually, your back gives way.
So if you've been left with crippling back pain after an accident, you might be wondering what to do next.
Well, don't worry. We'll talk you through the steps you should take if you've been injured at work, and how to get workers' compensation to help pay for your recovery, so keep reading.
Don't Ignore Back Pain After an Accident & Seek Medical Advice
We rely on our backs. It supports our head, allows us to twist our body around, and helps support our nervous system. It's the most important tool we have to keep our bodies moving.
If it's damaged in some way, you might find it difficult to follow your usual daily routine. The smallest movements you make might be pure agony when there's a problem.
If you find yourself injured, don't delay seeking proper medical advice.
You want to make sure you get the medical attention you need to recover correctly. If you ignore the problem, you might find that the damage becomes more serious and long-lasting.
Acute pain, pain that recovers over a few weeks, might suddenly become chronic. Do you want to suffer from pain that could last a lifetime?
With medical attention, you can receive the proper advice on how to manage the problem. You'll have to rest your back for a suitable period of time.
Don't strain yourself unnecessarily. A back injury is likely to require time off work, so don't feel forced to return if you can't do the job correctly. You don't want to rush back and cause more damage!
Take the Proper Recovery Steps
Once you've sought medical advice, you'll be advised of the proper recovery steps to take.
Mild injuries can recover in their own time without medication. Hot and cold compresses on problematic areas can help to ease the intensity of the pain.
You may need to take medication, however. Mild pain relief, such as ibuprofen, can be acquired over the counter, but you may need to take stronger, prescribed medication if that doesn't have the desired effect.
Medication only masks the pain, however. To properly heal, you may need to consider chiropractic therapy to help. 22 million Americans use a chiropractor every year to help resolve back injury, and this can usually be paid for by your workers' compensation benefits (which we'll discuss further below).
If the injury is significant, you may also have to consider surgery to repair the damage, and this could have an impact on your timescale for returning to work.
This may all be a moot point, however, if your injury is so severe that you can't go back to work. A physician will diagnose the severity of your injury as either temporary partial, permanent partial, or permanent total disability.
If you're diagnosed as having a temporary partial disability, you can return work after a suitable recovery to your existing job. Permanent partial disability, however, will require you to return to work under a different role.
A serious back injury might mean a move into a role that doesn't require heavy lifting, for instance. If the injury is so severe that you can't return to work, you'll be diagnosed with a permanent total disability, which means you can no longer work.
File a Workers' Compensation Claim
As soon as you're injured, you should file a claim for workers' compensation. This will depend on your state (in Illinois, for instance, you have 45 days to file a claim following an injury).
If you can't work because of back pain after an accident, you don't have an income. You'll also need finance to pay for your medical bills, or for help adjusting to permanent injuries that stop you from working.
By claiming workers' comp, you'll receive payouts to help fund for all of these costs, from medical bills to a percentage of your lost wages. The process is pretty simple, too (but will, again, vary depending on your state).
When you file for compensation, you will need to tell your supervisor the injury, the date and time it occurred, and how it happened.
If you're in Illinois, the Workers' Compensation Act means that you can choose your own doctor to treat you, but your employer can request that their own medical professional can examine your health, to judge your injuries for themselves.
Your choice of physician is important. They need to be on your side, so make sure you do your research and, in most cases, it's better to choose someone that your employer doesn't suggest.
A company doctor, for instance, might want you to go back to work earlier than you're ready for.
Be aware that if you also decide that your employer was at fault and want to sue them for damages, in most cases you will waive your right to workers' compensation. That means your healthcare costs and any lost wages will be lost, and if you lose your legal case, you will have to pay for these yourself.
Do You Need Legal Advice?
Don't delay either your recovery or your claim for compensation if you're suffering back pain after an accident at work.
Back pain after an accident or injury shouldn't stop you from having the quality of life that you deserve, so make sure that you take the proper steps to get back to where you were.
This means getting yourself proper medical treatment, documenting everything, and make sure you take the steps needed to recover. Remember, if you're taking workers' comp to cover your costs, in most cases, you can't sue your employer for damages.
If you or someone you care about has suffered a back injury at work and you're struggling to know what to do, contact us and see if we can't provide you with the necessary legal advice to help.
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