Everything you need to know about getting workers’ compensation after an overexertion injury at work
An overexertion injury refers to an injury that results from pushing the body beyond what it can physically handle. It’s the 2nd most common cause of nonfatal accident injuries that result in days missed from work, accounting for approximately 22 percent of all workers’ comp claims annually. In 2020 alone, more than 255,000 workers suffered an overexertion injury.
What are the most common overexertion injuries in the workplace?
Muscle strains, tears, and sprains make up approximately 67 percent of overexertion injuries in the workplace. They can involve any area of the body but can be most debilitating when they affect the neck or back.
Other overexertion injuries include:
- Joint inflammation or dislocation
- Torn cartilage or tendons
- Twisted ankles
- Spinal cord issues like a slipped disc
- Heat exhaustion (also known as heat stroke)
What are the most common causes of overexertion injuries at work?
An overexertion injury can occur on virtually any job. Many people only associate on-the-job injuries with operating machinery, heavy lifting or working with dangerous chemicals.
However, an overexertion injury at work can occur from any kind of physical activity that is done repetitively and/or in excess as part of a work requirement. It can also result when a job requirement is performed incorrectly.
Overexertion injuries involving an outside source
The most common injury-inducing activities fall under the category of “overexertion injuries involving outside sources” and include the following:
- Carrying and/or lifting large, heavy objects
- Lifting incorrectly
- Pushing, pulling, throwing
- Holding, especially when exerting opposite force on an object
- Repetitive movements such as typing or using tools like a computer mouse, a screwdriver or other manually operated tools
- Extreme working conditions or environments, such as a hot room with insufficient cooling from a fan or air conditioner
Overexertion injuries from extension or bodily reaction
Prolonged movements that fall under the category of “other exertions or bodily reactions” include the following:
- Standing/sitting/looking at a computer or other screen for too long
- Twisting or contorting the body
These activities commonly result in sprains, fractures, strains, and/or nerve damage.
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What workers’ comp benefits are available after an overexertion injury in South Carolina?
Since one of the main areas of the body that experiences overexertion injury is the back, a commonly asked question is: Can I get workers’ comp for back pain?
The short answer is yes.
Under South Carolina law, any employer with 4 or more full- or part-time employees is required to provide workers’ compensation insurance to their workers. To be eligible for workers’ comp benefits, you don’t need to prove your employer was at fault for your injury. You only need to prove that your injury arose “out of and in the course of” your employment.
Back pain can be associated with a wide range of conditions, from a mild muscle strain to a serious injury of the spinal cord that could require surgery and physical therapy. But as long as your back injury, or any other injury, resulted from your job, you should be entitled to workers’ comp benefits.
In South Carolina, the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission oversees the rights of individuals who have been injured on the job. Injured workers may be entitled to benefits to cover the following:
- Lost wages. These are monetary payments that are provided weekly. These funds are available for both temporary and permanent disabilities. They are typically two-thirds of your average weekly wage for a period of time that varies depending on your specific injury.
- Medical Costs. This includes reimbursement for hospitalization, doctor appointments, surgeries, medical supplies, prescription medications, prosthetic devices, physical therapy and any other treatments/supplies deemed medically necessary to treat injuries sustained on the job.
- Travel costs. You’re entitled to reimbursement for costs incurred traveling to and from medical appointments, physical therapy, etc.
- Vocational rehabilitation assistance. These benefits can be used toward new job training or education if your injury has left you unable to do your previous job.
- Funeral expenses/death benefits. If a workplace injury results in death, then the decedent’s immediate family members are eligible to receive up to $12,000 for funeral and burial expenses.
It’s important to note that unlike in personal injury cases, workers’ comp does not provide compensation for pain and suffering.
What should I do if I suffer an overexertion injury at work in South Carolina?
In order to be eligible for worker’s compensation benefits, there are some steps you need to take immediately after an on-the-job injury occurs. It is imperative that you follow these steps to ensure you remain eligible for compensation:
- Get medical attention right away. A doctor will document your injuries and recommend treatment. Having this documentation will make it easier to connect your injury to your job, which can help streamline the workers’ comp claim process.
- Report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. According to South Carolina law, you have up to 90 days to report your injury to your employer, but the longer you wait, the harder it typically becomes to secure benefits.
- Contact an attorney to discuss your options if your employer tries to deny your claim.
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What are my options if my worker’s comp claim is denied in South Carolina?
If your worker’s comp claim is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. You can file a petition of appeal and submit it to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission.
However, it’s best to contact an experienced worker’s comp attorney to help you with this process as it can be rather complicated, and if your employer or their insurer has already denied your claim, it’s likely they’ll continue to try to prevent you from receiving benefits.
An attorney can ensure that you follow all the necessary procedures, file all the paperwork on time, and negotiate with your employer and their insurance company so you can focus on healing from your injury.
Contact a South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney
No matter what your job is, if you suffer an injury on the job due to overexertion, you have a right to compensation. You’re already dealing with pain and discomfort from your injury; you don’t need the added stress of worrying about how you will provide for your family and cover your medical expenses.
At Chappell, Chappell and Newman., our experienced attorneys have recovered millions of dollars for injured workers across the state of South Carolina, and we’d love the opportunity to help you, too. Contact us today for your free, no-obligation consultation.