Back and neck disorders are among the most common injuries sustained by workers doing their jobs in Florence, SC. Some examples of back and neck injuries are whiplash, muscle strains, torn ligaments, herniated disks, misaligned or broken vertebrae, compressed or pinched nerves, spinal cord damage, and paralysis. Work-related neck and back injuries can result from slip-and-fall mishaps, heavy lifting, impact from a heavy object, bending, twisting or turning, repetitive motion, vehicle accidents, or equipment malfunctions.
Workers most likely to experience back and neck injuries on the job include:
Nurses, physical therapists, nurse aides, CNAs, and X-ray technicians can injure themselves when moving, assisting, and turning over patients.
Plumbers, electricians, miners, and roofers
Kneeling, bending, and crawling in the process of doing these jobs can result in repetitive motion injuries or pinched nerves in the spine.
Assembly line workers who stand all day and repeat the same motions can develop repetitive trauma injuries of the neck and back.
Building trade employees bend, kneel, and twist their bodies all day. They also operate vibrating power tools, haul heavy wheelbarrows, and climb ladders from which they sometimes fall.
Farm workers planting and harvesting crops must bend, kneel, and twist their spines into unnatural positions hour after hour, day after day.
Driving for hours in a seated position can result in herniated disks and other spinal damage.
Clerical and administrative workers who spend long hours sitting in front of a computer are prone to neck and back disorders, especially if their chairs don’t provide lumbar support or their workstations are poorly designed.
While some back and neck issues are minor, others are serious enough to keep employees from carrying out their occupational duties. The worst such conditions are spinal cord injuries.
Spinal Cord Injuries (SCIs)
Your spinal cord extends from the base of your brain to your lower back. It transmits information from your brain to your nervous system, controlling bodily movements and nerves that register cold, heat, pain, and pleasure. Misalignment or fractures of your vertebrae, which protect your spinal cord, can put pressure on the nerves in the spinal column, causing severe pain, reduced mobility, or paralysis.
If you have a complete SCI, you have neither feeling nor mobility below the point where the spine is damaged. You could be paraplegic (paralyzed from the trunk of the body down) or quadriplegic (paralyzed from the neck down). With an incomplete SCI, you generally maintain some degree of feeling and movement below the point of injury.
Incomplete SCIs include:
Central cord syndrome
Damage to the center of the spinal cord leaves victims able to move their legs but not their arms.
Anterior cord syndrome
The front of the spinal cord is damaged, eliminating any sensation beneath the point of impact to the spine.
Posterior cord syndrome
Damage to the back of the spinal cord hampers physical coordination but allows the victim to feel some sensations.
Trauma to one side of the spinal column reduces feeling and movement on one side of the body.
A dislocation or fracture creates pressure on the spinal cord, causing balance issues, weakness, and loss of feeling.
Damage between the first and second lumbar areas of the spine causes numbness or pain from the waist down, as well as bowel or urinary problems.
Work-related SCIs are about equally divided between complete and incomplete cases. Early symptoms include numbness in toes or fingers, problems with balance or coordination, breathing problems, loss of bladder or bowel control, weakness, sexual dysfunction, muscle spasms, and extreme pain. An SCI can disable you and prevent you from ever working again. Your medical expenses (treatment, surgery, assistive equipment, nursing care, and prescriptions) are likely to be astronomical, so your workers’ comp claim will be an expensive one that your employer’s insurer might very well dispute in order to save money. The insurance company could contend that your injury is not work-related and/or is the result of a pre-existing condition, in which case you need a workers’ comp attorney to help you with your claim.
Nearly every South Carolina business with four or more employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover the job-related injuries and occupational illnesses of its employees. Workers’ comp pays for all medical expenses and two-thirds of lost wages, as well as disability benefits and vocational re-training in some cases. Because workers’ comp is no-fault insurance, you don’t have to prove your employer did anything wrong to cause your injury, and your employer may not fire you or retaliate against you for filing a claim for benefits.
As soon as you’re injured or become aware of your work-related back or neck injury, you should report it to your supervisor. Although you have 90 days to do so, don’t wait. If your employer does not file your claim with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (SCWCC) in a timely fashion, you can do so yourself with a Form 50, which is available on the SCWCC website. Again, you should not wait to do so. Although you technically have two years to file, any delay on your part could hurt your claim. You should see a doctor approved by your employer’s insurer (not your own doctor after an initial visit) and follow all medical advice conscientiously. Keep your appointments, take all medications as prescribed, and retain receipts and other documentation of your treatments. If your claim is accepted, you should start receiving weekly benefits and reimbursement for medical bills soon. When you reach maximum medical improvement, you could be given a disability rating that will determine what, if any, work you can do henceforth.
The Need for an Attorney
If the insurer or employer is slow to approve medical treatment, tries to force you back to work too early, or retaliates against you for filing your claim, you should contact a workers’ comp lawyer for help. If your claim is denied, your lawyer can request an informal conference with your employer and insurer, a hearing before the SCWCC, or a Commission review. Your attorney can also appeal your denied claim in the South Carolina Court of Appeals or Supreme Court. By working with your doctors and perhaps calling in expert witnesses, your attorney can work to prove the connection between your injury and your job duties.
Have You Been Injured On The Job In Florence?
If you've been hurt at your job in or around Florence, South Carolina, you can speak with a workers' compensation lawyer. Please contact us online or call our Florence personal injury office directly at 843.488.7540 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Charleston, Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.