Navigating Workplace Injuries: How to Prove a Back Injury at Work

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Written By Rocky Horton

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If you’re wondering how to prove a back injury at work, you or someone you care about may be dealing with the complicated process of receiving compensation from your employer. Usually, the system works smoothly. Employers file the right paperwork and schedule the right appointments to get their injured employees the settlement they deserve while they recover.

However, I’ve seen a lot of instances where people don’t know how to prove a back injury at work or are dealing with an employer who refuses to help them. In either case, continue reading for a guide on navigating this common workplace injury. Contact an attorney experienced in workplace injury compensation to learn more about your case.

About Back Injury

Back injuries are by far the most commonly reported work-related musculoskeletal injury, accounting for nearly 40% of all injuries that resulted in at least one missed day of work. The occupations most commonly affected by this injury include nursing assistants and stock clerks. Nearly half of all people in these jobs will experience a work-related back injury at some point.

If you’re part of the over 128,000 workers who file back-related injury cases every year, you need to know how to prove a back injury at work so you can get the compensation you deserve.

What Kinds of Back Injuries Commonly Happen at Work?

According to the National Safety Council, nearly 80% of back injuries occur in the service-providing industries. The main causes of back injuries are containers and boxes, with the worker’s position and motion being key factors in determining how likely it is for injury to occur.

The type of injury most often reported was sprains, followed by strains and tears, which in total make up for around 66.3% of all back injuries. Soreness and pain account for another 25% while serious fractures only occur in around 1.6% of work-related back injuries.

How to Prove a Back Injury at Work?

No matter what type of injury you have sustained, the rules for proving the injury are the same. The focus of the case will be the question of whether your employer failed to take reasonable precautions to protect you or you failed to protect yourself.

For example, your injury may have been caused by a piece of machinery that failed. If that’s the case, file a complaint about the state of the equipment to your supervisor. Their response to it may provide evidence in your case.

On the other hand, if you were intoxicated when you were working, you may not be able to receive compensation for your injuries. The workers’ compensation attorneys will claim that the injury was your fault.

Back Injury at Work: What to Do Next

No matter how you were injured, you should always take these steps:

  • File a workplace accident report form with your employer
  • Photograph the scene and document the accounts of witnesses
  • Visit a doctor immediately to get your injuries documented
  • Keep all the records of the treatments you receive for your injuries
  • Contact an attorney experienced in workplace-related accidents

Your employer is required to file forms that report the injury. In many cases, their insurance will cover your claim and assign you an approved doctor to document your treatment. However, the employer may claim that it was your fault or the insurer may try to cut your compensation based on certain factors. This is when an attorney becomes necessary.

What You Can Do if You’re Forced Back to Work After an Injury

If you fail to report to work after the doctor approves you, your employer could fire you. On the other hand, the doctor will provide restrictions that your employer is legally obligated to follow. If your employer makes you do something that is in violation of your doctor’s advice, including attending work in the event that your doctor orders recovery time, you need to speak to a work accident attorney.

There’s another possibility I’ve seen for those who have suffered a back injury at work. In some cases, a doctor will say it’s fine for you to work even though you are in too much pain. In that event, follow these steps:

  • Return to your doctor: If you experience pain or loss of function due to your injuries, you need to explain your issues to your doctor in detail so they can take you off work or place additional restrictions on your duties. In my experience, doctors are usually receptive to workers’ feelings in injury cases, so long as their account doesn’t seem too exaggerated.
  • Seek out a second opinion: If you believe your doctor is not being receptive, you can seek a second opinion. Just remember that doctors not approved by your employer will probably not be covered by your insurance for the first 90 days after the accident. But I always tell clients to put their health first and get a good second opinion if they feel they are being taken advantage of.
  • Speak with a workers’ comp lawyer: If you fear permanent disability due to the doctor’s advice or the employer’s negligence, speak with a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as you can. In my experience, the employer’s attorneys may not be as receptive to your claims, so you should find someone on the outside to help.

Can I get Compensation for Injury at Work?

Workers’ comp protects employers from lawsuits when their workers are injured on the job. But if your employer lacks coverage or if a third party could be to blame for your accident, you may be entitled to additional compensation.

For example, you may be driving a company truck when a drunk driver hits you in an intersection. In addition to workers’ comp, you may be able to sue the driver. In another case, if a defective piece of machinery causes your injury, you may be able to sue the manufacturer.

Workers’ comp should be the first avenue you explore for compensation, but it’s not the whole story. In many cases, I’ve seen clients underpaid for their injuries by workers’ comp who get compensated later through a lawsuit, another reason that having an attorney on your side is so important.

Is it Worth Hiring an Attorney for My Back Injury?

The question of how to prove a back injury at work can lead to a complicated tug-of-war between the workers’ comp lawyers, your stubborn employer, and the approved doctors. I’ve seen many workers who get denied adequate compensation due to one or all of these parties prioritizing their interests over those of the injured worker.

If you feel that you are under-compensated for your work-related back injury, contact an experienced workers’ comp attorney or accident attorney to help you navigate the process of getting an adequate settlement in your state.

Rocky Horton

Rocky Horton


Rocky Horton is a health and safety expert from Chapel Hill, NC. He is the founder of AccidentAdvisor and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg, and other publications. Learn more.