Considering the multitude of hazards that may be present in the workplace, it may surprise you to learn that the number one injury to Maryland employees is the lower back. According to the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission (MD WCC), trauma to the thorax-lower back is the most common reason workers seek benefits, at more than 21% of all claims. Injuries to the shoulders fall in second place at almost 20% of the total benefits awarded every year, so it is clear that many employees in all types of employment settings are at risk of back injuries.
Fortunately, workers’ comp laws protect your interests if you hurt your back or any other body part. The key is complying with eligibility rules and meeting all legal requirements, which can be complicated. It is wise to work with a Maryland workers’ compensation attorney to ensure that errors in the claims process do not delay your benefits. You can also check out some background information on the criteria and some safety tips to avoid lower back injuries at work.
Qualifying for Benefits
Almost all Maryland employees will meet the first eligibility rule, which is working for an employer that is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Any company with one or more employees must have a policy to cover injuries to workers. Additional criteria include:
- You must be a covered employee, since the laws do not apply to independent contractors.
- Your injuries must be the result of an accident that arose in the context of your employment OR a medical condition that naturally results from employment conditions.
When it comes to lower back and shoulder injuries, you can see that you may qualify for workers’ comp benefits under two scenarios: A sudden, unexpected accident or a condition that develops over time. Repetitive motions, such as lifting, are a common cause of back injuries.
Note that proving fault by your employer is NOT a criterion for obtaining workers’ comp benefits. Filing a claim with the company’s workers’ comp insurer is your sole remedy in most cases.
It is reassuring to know that you may be eligible for medical expenses, wage replacement, and disability through a Maryland workers’ comp claim. However, preventing lower back injuries is crucial – and easy to do. A few safety tips include:
- Practice proper lifting techniques, and the saying goes “Lift with your legs, not your back.”
- Wear a safety belt to support the lower back.
- Never twist your spine while lifting objects.
- If your job involves repetitive tasks, vary your motion to prevent too much pressure on one area of the body.
- Watch your posture while sitting for long periods.
- When standing, balance your body weight evenly over both feet.
Set Up a Consultation with a Baltimore County, MD Workers’ Comp Lawyer
To learn more about your rights after suffering lower back injuries at work, please contact attorney Michael A. Freedman. You can call 410.363.6848 or go online to schedule a free consultation at our offices in Owings Mills or Glen Burnie, MD.