Episode 16: Louisville attorney Scott Scheynost will discuss Kentucky workers’ comp for lower back injuries in today’s episode. Injuries to the lower back are fairly common in many jobs. The workers’ compensation system provides benefits to injured workers who are hurt at work.
Lumbar Spine Injuries
Scott explains that lumbar spine injuries are a significant part of the workers’ compensation claims he files. The lumbar spine refers the lower back. This area of the spine supports the weight of the body, as well as anything a worker may be carrying at the time of his/her injury. When the lumbar area of the spine is injured, the pain and other symptoms may show up in other areas such as the pain in the legs. The lower back area has many nerves that branch out to various extremities. A lower back injury can impact the nerves and it shows up as radiating pain and other symptoms.
Degeneration Accelerates Due to Work Conditions
As we age, degenerative disk disease is a common occurrence. Joints, tissues and discs wear down over time. If your job involves heavy lifting, twisting and other strenuous activities, it can actually accelerate the degenerative disc disease and other conditions. The normal degenerative breakdown may be able to be shown as work-related. This means you could potentially receive Kentucky workers’ comp for lower back injuries.
Seriously, My Back is Hurting
Lower back injuries can easily be overlooked because pain is invisible. There no outward signs such as bleeding or a visible cut. The boss or supervisor may try to downplay the severity of the pain resulting from the lower back injury.
If you are hurt at work, you are required to notify your supervisor, or someone “up the ladder.” Don’t let them try to downplay the pain you’re experiencing. They need to start the paperwork related to your worker’s compensation claim.
What if My Supervisor Won’t Start the Workers’ Comp Process for Me?
It’s unfortunate, but it does happen. If you supervisor or other managers won’t help you to get the process started, you should consult with a Kentucky workers’ compensation attorney.
Some supervisors or managers may receive safety bonuses, which could provide an incentive for them not to report the injury to their workers’ comp insurance carrier. It’s also possible that the employer doesn’t have a Kentucky worker’s compensation insurance policy. This is illegal and they could be subject to significant fines and penalties.
Listen to a previous episode about what happens when an employer doesn’t have workers’ comp insurance. You are still able to get benefits for your work-related injuries.
The Kentucky Department of Workers’ Claims can be reached at (502) 564-5550. If you don’t want to get an attorney involved, at this point, the DWC and a workers’ comp specialist can by-pass your employer and get the claim started for your lower back injury.
Can My Company Retaliate if I File a Workers’ Comp Claim?
In Kentucky, there are specific law preventing retaliation against an employee. If your employer is willing to make you decide between your ability to provide for your family and filing a claim, do you really want to work there, anyway?
Do I Have to Go to the Doctor the Company Recommends?
This is an old trick in workers’ comp claims. In Kentucky, you have the right to select your own doctor. The company might try to persuade you to see a certain doctor. You might think they’re actually doing you a favor. In reality, that doctor may try to convince you that your lower back injury is not as bad as you think. They may try to get you back to work before you’re ready or have fully healed. That happens because some doctors know this might reduce the amount of benefits paid to the employee. This could benefit the company, which will result in more referrals. Always select your own doctor, or ask your attorney. You want a doctor who is interested more in you and your recovery.
Lower Back Injuries Can Have a Serious Impact on Your Ability to Work
Scott explains that this is even more true for those who have a physically demanding job. Your back is involved in so many activities, from walking to picking up items. If you can’t perform those activities, you may want to consult an attorney who has experience handling workers’ comp for lower back injuries.
Medical Treatment for the Rest of Your Life
As part of the current Kentucky workers’ compensation laws, you may be eligible for lifetime medical treatment. This is different from the right to reopen your case so you can get an increase in your benefits. We discuss this issue extensively Episode 15.
Your condition could worsen over time, including accelerated arthritis. There’s a good chance that a surgery to address the worsened condition could result in a higher impairment rating. The surgery might be for a discectomy or even a spinal fusion. That’s why you might need to speak with an attorney about reopening your case to apply for increased benefits due to that higher impairment rating and the additional limitations on your ability to return to your job.
Did You Feel a Pop in Your Back Resulting in Pain?
This is a very common indication of a lower back injury, such as a herniated disc. If this happened due to a work-related activity, or on company property, you should consult with an experienced attorney who handles workers’ comp for lower back injuries. It could affect you for the rest of your life, depending upon the severity of the injury.
It Cost You Nothing to Speak with Scott
Contact Scott Scheynost at (502) 937-5287. This podcast is meant to provide information and is not legal advice. Scott’s principal office is located at 7619 Dixie Highway, Louisville, KY 40258. Co-host Jim Ray is a non-attorney spokesperson. This is an advertisement.