Workers’ Compensation for an Employee Who Suffers a Back Injury at Work

Charleston Workplace Back Injury Lawyer

Back injuries are prevalent in the workforce. Overexertion, as well as sitting or standing too much, can cause back injuries. Work accidents, like falls, can also cause serious back injuries. Whether the back injury arises from an accident, a sudden movement or a gradual onset, the injured employee should be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits from their employer.

Statistics for Work-Related Injuries

Private employers reported approximately 2.8 million non-fatal work injuries and illnesses in 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of those injuries, 882,730, nearly one-third, resulted in days away from work. For 10,000 full-time employees, the private industry reported 89.4 cases. Overexertion in lifting or lowering accounted for 97,990 of the days away from work cases, while injuries to the back accounted for 148,780 of the days away from work cases.

Causes of Injuries to the Back at Work

Suffering a back injury is a risk of working whether performing manual labor or sitting at a desk. Here are some causes of back injuries:

  • Slips, trips and falls: An office worker can slip on a piece of carpet, or a retail worker can trip over merchandise.
  • Falling from a structure: A construction worker can fall off a roof or ladder.
  • Lifting: Lifting heavy objects, like construction materials or furniture, can injure a worker’s back, or lifting a patient can injure a health care worker’s back.
  • Body vibrations: The vibrations caused by a large truck or heavy piece of equipment can injure the back of the driver or operator.
  • Overuse: Workers, like employees in warehouses, who spend much of the day bending, lifting and tugging can suffer back injuries.
  • Awkward postures: Office workers can suffer back injuries when their work stations are not ergonomically correct.
  • Sitting and standing: Sitting or standing for hours can cause back problems. Dentists and beauticians can develop back problems from standing for long periods.

Workers at Risk of Back Injuries

What types of employees are more at risk for back injuries?

  • Construction workers – roofers, carpenters and painters
  • Electricians and plumbers
  • Factory workers – assembly line and warehouse workers
  • Health care personnel – nurses, dentists and surgeons
  • Truck drivers and operators of heavy equipment
  • Office workers
  • Agricultural workers, gardeners and landscapers

Types of Back Injuries Employees Suffer on the Job

Employees can suffer many types of back injuries, which include but are not limited to:

  • Sprains and strains
  • Herniated discs
  • Bulging or slipped discs
  • Fractured vertebrae
  • Injury to the spinal cord, including paralysis

Compensation for Back Injuries at Work

What are the general rules for receiving workers’ compensation in South Carolina for on-the-job back injuries?

  • Notice: An employee must give notice of an injury to their employer as soon as practicable and no later than 90 days after the injury.
  • Medical Treatment: The employer must provide medical care for an injured employee. Except in the case of an emergency, the employer decides which doctor the employee will see.
  • Claim: If an employer disputes a claim, an employee has two years to file a claim with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission.
  • Fault: An injured employee does not have to prove their employer was at fault. Likewise, an employer cannot use an employee’s fault to deny coverage.
  • Start of Benefits: No compensation is paid to the injured worker for the first seven days. If the disability lasts for more than 14 days, payments will go back to the date of the injury.
  • Amount of Payments: An injured employee receives 66 and two-thirds of their average weekly wage, up to the state’s maximum, which increases each year. The maximum was $838.21 for injuries occurring on or after January 1, 2018.
  • Temporary Disability: Generally, the injured employee receives temporary disability benefits until they return to work or reach maximum medical improvement.
  • Permanent Partial Disability: If the loss of the use of the back is 49 percent or less, the employee receives benefits for 300 weeks. If the loss of the use of the back is 50 percent or more, the employee receives benefits for 500 weeks. When the loss of use of the back is 50 percent or more, the employee is presumed to suffer permanent and total disability.
  • Permanent Total Disability: If an employee is permanently and totally disabled, they can receive benefits up to 500 weeks. For catastrophic injuries, like paralysis, the employee can get benefits for life.
  • Legal Help: The workers’ compensation process can get complicated. Employees can protect their rights by contacting a workers’ compensation attorney.

Contact Us

If you suffer an injury at work, call a workers’ compensation lawyer at Steinberg Law Firm 24/7 at 843-720-2800, make an appointment at or visit our offices in Charleston, Goose Creek or Summerville.

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