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How to Handle Back and Neck Injuries at Work

October 25, 2016

If you injure your neck or back on the job, you may not be aware of the extent of your injury right away. Unlike a broken arm or a cut, back and neck injuries don’t always make themselves apparent immediately and the symptoms aren’t necessarily obvious. For example, a lower back injury can result in you feeling shooting pain, tingling and numbness in your toes or legs, which you may not begin to feel for a day or more after the initial incident. Familiarize yourself with these Dos and Don’ts so you can give yourself the best shot at being properly compensated for a back of neck work injury.

Do:

  1. Tell your employer your medical history. Claim adjustors will sometimes blame a pre-existing condition on your symptoms or injuries and use that as a defense against awarding you workers’ compensation benefits. When you start a new job, always provide your employer with a thorough medical history. Prior back and neck injuries, complaints and treatments should be disclosed and documented.  If these prior problems aren’t disclosed and you later injure the same body part, that can be a bar to your new claim.
  2. Report your injury immediately. As with any injury or workplace incident, it is extremely important that you report it to your supervisor as soon as you can. Explain what happened and what injuries you incurred. As we’ve said previously, back and neck injuries are not always obvious. So even if you feel like medical treatment isn’t immediately necessary, report the incident anyway.  If you report it later, make sure that you give a clear history of exactly what happened during the work accident and that you believe your current symptoms stem from the work accident.
  3. Talk to an attorney right away. Not all employers have your best interests in mind, and claim adjustors will work on the behalf of the employer, not you. The selection of a proper treating physician is possibly the most important thing that can take place during a workers’ compensation claim.  If the insurance adjuster insists that you see a certain doctor, speak with an attorney to familiarize yourself with your rights regarding physician selection after a work accident.   You need an attorney who will act as your advocate during the claim process. The right workers’ compensation lawyer will be familiar with workers’ comp insurance laws, deadlines, and all the requirements for managing your case.
  4. Know your rights. An employer should maintain a list of physicians you can see after you suffer a workplace injury. This list should be posted properly at the place of employment. If it is not, you can select any physician to treat you. Not only do you have the right to choose your own physician from the list, if it is posted, but you are also entitled to change your doctor one time during the course of treatment. At the Law Offices of William F. Underwood, we are very familiar with the local physicians and orthopedic surgeons who know how to treat back and neck injuries and provide the best treatment possible.

Don’t:

  1. Minimize your injuries. Some employees are worried about upsetting their employers and don’t want to rock the boat by reporting a work injury. In fact, most employers want to know when their employee is injured. It will be much more suspicious if you complain of an injury after having several days off.
  2. Give a recorded statement to insurance adjustor before talking to an attorney. Insurance adjustors will look for any holes in your story in order to deny your claim. Speak to an attorney before you provide a statement.
  3. Hop between doctors or ignore recommended treatment. Once your claim is pending, continue to see your authorized treating physician and follow the prescribed treatment. Remember, you only get to switch your treating physician once.
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