The Georgia workers’ compensation attorneys at the Bader Law Firm, LLC, see a lot of back injuries, as these are among the most common of work related injuries that people are seeking compensation and benefits for from their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy. Yet, these cases also come with unique challenges, and one of those challenges is that they aren’t handled correctly, from a medical standpoint.
This frequently causes the back injury to become much worse, and can even harm your workers’ compensation claim if it is determined that you created some of the damage through a lack of action. On the other hand, it is all too often the insurance company’s fault that a patient doesn’t take the appropriate action for their back injury. When it comes to back injuries, insurance company claims adjusters can be extremely short sighted when it comes to how those injuries should be treated and managed for the best interests of the patient.
How Common Are Back Injuries in the Workplace?
You might be surprised to find out that roughly half of our workers’ compensation clients have back injuries. Of course, ‘back injury’ is a broad term that includes a wide variety of more specific injuries and problems. For example, some of the most frequently seen back injury cases involve a herniated disc that causes lower back pain, especially those involving L5-S1 herniation. Then, there are the injuries and spine damage that are located at the thoracic spine, the sacral spine, the lumbar spine, and the cervical spine.
Confused? You don’t have four spines, but your spine is divided into multiple sections, and your injury could include one or more of those sections. The location matters in terms of your treatment and prognosis, but from the perspective of the workers’ compensation insurance claims adjuster, there may be very little difference. They also tend to not understand that quickly treating your back pain is extremely important if you’re going to heal correctly.
What they do understand is that failing to act quickly could worsen any condition. The unfortunate thing is that they only seem to understand this in terms of how it can benefit their bottom line. If they can blame you for your injury, they can reduce the value of your claim.
This is where it is important for you to seek medical treatment, right away, after a work-related back injury. Yet, the insurance company isn’t going to make it easy for you. They are notorious for minimizing your access to appropriate treatment, minimizing the severity of your injury, and trying to get you back to work far sooner than you should be. In many cases, a back injury will require surgery or rehabilitative care, though the insurance company may be an obstacle.
How Do Workers’ Compensation Insurance Companies Prevent Adequate Treatment?
When it comes to getting the appropriate treatment for your work-related back injury, you may need bed rest, medication, surgeries, physical therapy, and more. Yet, to get this treatment covered by the workers’ compensation insurance company can be an uphill battle. While you can seek urgent treatment when you need it, immediately after the accident, you can’t just plan a much needed surgery without the insurance company’s approval. You also can’t just go and get your prescriptions filled (for medication or rehabilitation) without their approval, unless you’ve got the money laying around to cover your treatment by yourself.
So, you submit a request for approval for the treatment you need, and they approve it; no hassle, right? If you guessed that this would be too simple, then you are right. The insurance company doesn’t strive to make things simple for the injured. Rather, they will question the necessity of the treatment, and they will want to make sure you go to an approved surgeon, physical therapist, etc. They will also want to approve your medications before you can get those prescriptions filled. Yet, they are not doctors, so how can they know what’s best for you?
The short answer is that they aren’t focused on what’s best for you, but on what’s best for them. They don’t want to spend any more than necessary on your treatment, and they’d like to get you back to work pretty quickly, so they don’t have to keep paying your wage compensation. All of these factors combined mean that you are likely to end up with delayed treatment for a back injury. This delayed treatment could lead to nerve damage that can never be repaired.
Do You Have a Minor Back Injury or Is It Serious?
Not all back injuries are severe enough to require surgery, and if you’re lucky, you might be back to work after a bit of rest and some pain medication. You might even be able to get your pain medication over the counter, and still be comfortable with the relief that can be found in Tylenol and Ibuprofen. Some back injuries even respond well to creams and pads that warm or cool the injured area. If your back injury is minor, then you won’t face the difficulties that people with more severe back injuries face concerning the insurance companies.
To determine if your back injury is more serious, however, ask yourself if the pain has lasted more than a week and hasn’t responded well to bed rest and medication. Consider whether your back pain gets worse at night and if it wakes you up. Do you have pain in your legs, as well? What about your abdomen and groin? Is your back injury making it difficult to use the bathroom? Do you notice any numbness or weakness in your extremities? Does it hurt to breathe? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, your injury may be severe.
Won’t Your Doctor Handle Your Back Injury Appropriately?
One of the most challenging aspects of a workers’ compensation claim in Georgia is that it can be difficult to get a physician or surgeon who is truly focused on your wellbeing and appropriate treatment. You have to see a medical professional who is approved by the insurance company, and those professionals are usually closely aligned with the goals of that insurance company. They don’t necessarily want what’s best for you, because they benefit from achieving the goals of the insurance company. So, instead of making sure that you get the correct treatment in a timely fashion, they’re going to be working to get you back to work quickly, with minimal medical intervention. This can leave you without the necessary treatment and in danger of losing much more than you would have otherwise in terms of your quality of life.
If you find yourself in this position, with a back injury that is serious and not being taken seriously, you need legal help. Call the dedicated Atlanta work injury claim attorneys at Bader Law Firm, LLC for a free consultation.