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Can You Get Workers' Comp for Back Pain?

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on April 06, 2015 10:51 AM

I would not wish back pain on anybody.

It can be a constant dull ache affecting everything you do in a day, or it can be an excruciating stab in the back that can make it hard to even stand up. Back pain can be so pervasive that you may have to miss work, along with pretty much everything else in your life.

While you can get workers' compensation for a work-related back injury, can you get workers' comp for back pain?

Growing Older

Some employers and doctors contend that back pain is just a normal side-effect of growing older. In the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Nortin Hadler argues that backaches are as pervasive as the common cold and part of the normal aging process, not caused by working. If this is true in your case, then you most likely wouldn't be able to claim workers' compensation for these types of backaches.

Work-related

However, sometimes back pain can be a symptom of a back injury. For example, lifting heavy boxes can cause a worker to pull his back muscle, causing excruciating pain. If the injury causing the back pain is work related, then you could make a workers' comp claim.

Also, pre-existing back pain is not eligible for workers' compensation because it's not work related. However, if an accident at work or your daily duties aggravated the back pain, then you could argue that the pain is work-related.

Get a Doctor's Opinion

The best way to prove whether back pain is work-related or not is to get a doctor's evaluation. Your doctor can help diagnose the cause of your back pain. However, be aware that pinpointing the exact cause of back pain is difficult.

Employers and insurance companies are more likely to dispute back pain claims because they are hard to prove. If the doctor your employer sends you to diagnoses your back pain as a degenerative disc disease (which means you're getting old), you can still get a second opinion from your own doctor.

If you think your back pain is work-related, you should notify your employer as soon as possible and file a claim. Some states only allow you one year after you discover an injury is work-related to file a claim. An experienced workers' compensation attorney will be able to help you prove your injury is work-related and file a timely claim.

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