Overexertion causes about one third of all work-related injuries and is the No. 1 nonfatal work-related injury resulting in lost workdays. Lifting heavy items, bending, reaching overhead, pushing and pulling heavy loads, working in awkward body postures and performing the same tasks repetitively can lead to overexertion injuries.
Overexertion injuries happen when a worker performs a job where the human body’s capacity to complete the task was not sufficiently considered or the worker’s body becomes fatigued, such as in repetitive motion injuries. Muscles, ligaments, tendons and other soft tissue, particularly in the back, are susceptible to injury from overexertion. Workers may also be injured on the job when attempting to perform tasks they are not properly trained to do.
Regardless of the reason for an overexertion injury, if it occurs while on the job in North Carolina, then the employee should qualify in most cases for workers’ compensation benefits while he or she is out of work.
If you have suffered a lifting injury, repetitive motion injury or another overexertion injury at work and have been unable to obtain appropriate workers’ compensation benefits, the workers’ compensation injury lawyers of Hardison & Cochran are ready to help you. We have three attorneys who are board-certified specialists in workers’ compensation law in North Carolina, indicating that they have special training in this area of law.
We can help you seek workers’ compensation benefits including paid medical care and payments to replace part of your lost wages while you are unable to work. Call us at (800) 434-8399 or contact us online to discuss your overexertion injury claim. Hardison & Cochran has offices in Raleigh, N.C., and throughout Eastern and Central North Carolina.
Lifting Injuries Commonly Suffered at Work
Lifting heavy items is one of the leading causes of injuries in the workplace. Strain from overexertion during a single lift and cumulative trauma from work that requires repeatedly lifting heavy objects are the biggest causes of these injuries.
Overexertion while lifting causes strain to the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the back, neck and shoulder areas, and to discs in the back.
Lifting injuries can cause pain, swelling and numbness due to:
- Pinched nerve
- Herniated discs
- Meniscus tear (a knee injury)
- Bursitis (shoulder injury)
- Wrist injuries
- Elbow injuries.
Common Causes Of Back Injuries At Work
Back injuries are usually caused by strain that exceeds the capacity of your muscles, tendons or discs, or by the cumulative effect of strain over a long period of time. A sedentary job, such as a “desk job,” can contribute to back pain, especially if you have poor posture or sit all day in a chair that provides inadequate back support.
But a disabling back injury suffered at work is most likely due to heavy lifting and/or bending, stooping, twisting, or other movements. The lower back is the most common site of back injuries and back pain.
It is well-understood that heavier loads place greater stress on muscles and the back’s discs and vertebrae. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Environment, Health and Safety department says bending while lifting causes several problems for the back. It adds the weight of the upper body to the weight of the object being lifted. Bending and/or reaching moves the load away from the body and allows leverage to increase the effective load, leading to stress on the lower spine and muscle fatigue.
Holding items for long periods, even if the loads are light, increases the risk of back and shoulder injury due to muscle fatigue. Repeated exertion fatigues muscles by limiting recuperation times.
Low visibility or poor lighting increase the chance of trips and falls while lifting or carrying heavy loads. Workers carrying heavy loads may trip and wrench their backs as they attempt to recover from the stumble.
Environmental factors also can make lifting tasks more difficult and physically stressful. Muscle flexibility decreases in cold temperatures, and hot temperatures can lead to heat stress.
Job-Related Overexertion, Repetitive Motion, and Lifting Injuries
In many cases, overexertion injuries suffered on the job are due to cumulative trauma caused by repetitive microtasks or by being jarred by vibration, such as by machinery or power tools.
Repetitive motion job tasks may require:
- Repeated movement of the hand, arms and/or shoulders (including from vibration).
- Bending at the wrist.
- Grasping or pinching objects.
- Typing, mousing or other types of clerical “keying.”
Repetitive stress injuries include sprains, strains and tears of muscles, tendons, ligaments and/or nerves. Carpal-tunnel syndrome, a painful neuromuscular disorder that affects the hands and wrists, is a well-known repetitive motion injury.
What To Do After An Overexertion Injury At Work
Most employees who work full-time or part-time in North Carolina are covered by workers’ compensation insurance that their employers are required by law to have.
There are certain steps that need to happen after a workplace injury to allow you to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
- Report the injury to your employer. Report what happened to you (accident, injury and/or diagnosis) as soon as possible in writing with date and time and a description of incident(s) and/or work duties that caused you to be injured.
- See a doctor and obtain a diagnosis. You will be provided a list of employer-approved medical providers from which to choose a doctor to treat you. You must see this doctor and follow his or her medical instructions and keep follow-up appointments. Having a proper diagnosis is critical to your claim. You may see another physician of your choice if you disagree with the initial doctor’s assessment. Be sure the doctors know this is an occupational injury. You should explain the aspects of your job that led to your overexertion injury.
- Complete and submit a North Carolina Industrial Commission Form 18. Form 18 notifies the NCIC, your employer and your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier that you are seeking workers’ comp benefits.
- Start a claim file of your own. If there is a dispute regarding your workers’ compensation claim, you will need to show that you did what you were instructed to do to recover from your injury and to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. Make and keep copies of everything connected to your claim, including correspondence with your employer, the workers’ comp insurance administrator forms completed for the NCIC, your employer, medical bills and receipts.
If your employer or the insurance administrator has denied your overexertion injury claim or there is a dispute about the benefits that you are entitled to receive, you should contact a qualified workers’ compensation lawyer to guide you through the appeals process. The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation system is a complex bureaucracy. Dealing with it on your own can be confusing.
The workers’ compensation attorneys at Hardison & Cochran can assist you by gathering the records needed to appeal a disputed claim. We can ensure the necessary paperwork is completed and submitted in a timely manner. If you need to obtain a second opinion about your injury, we can refer you to providers who understand the requirements of North Carolina’s workers’ compensation program. We’ll handle as much of your claim as possible so you may concentrate on recovering from your on-the-job injury.
Do I Have a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
The types of injuries caused by overexertion – back injuries and other soft tissue strains – are musculoskeletal disorders that can occur through natural bodily wear and tear, especially as we age. This can be an obstacle when filing a workers’ compensation claim involving these conditions.
If an insurance company chooses to oppose an overexertion injury claim, its representatives may argue that the injury cannot be proven to have been caused by work duties. This argument is made easier if the worker has an active lifestyle. Insurance company lawyers might point to the computers, cellphones and other personal electronics in our lives as the source of repetitive motion injuries in the hands and wrists.
However, it is understood that overexertion injuries are often caused by trauma in a workplace accident or by repeated stress and strain encountered on the job. Industrial Commission officials who will review your claim know these injuries are routinely covered by workers’ compensation when properly documented.
Our experienced North Carolina workplace injury lawyers at Hardison & Cochran understand the state’s workers’ compensation system and will work to document and demonstrate the connection between your job-related duties or accident and your diagnosed back injury or musculoskeletal disorder. As your workers’ compensation attorneys, we will obtain, compile and present work records, accident reports and medical records to build a persuasive case in support of your claim.
Hardison & Cochran can help you file an initial claim or appeal a faulty decision about your claim. For qualifying workers, North Carolina’s workers’ compensation program pays all of your medical bills and about two thirds of your lost income. We want to help you access all the benefits that you are due.
Contact Our Raleigh Back Injury Lawyers Today
Hardison & Cochran has successfully pursued many workers’ compensation cases in North Carolina in which our client was disabled by a back injury or another musculoskeletal disorder suffered because of overexertion on the job. Contact Hardison & Cochran today for help with your workers’ compensation claim by using our online form or calling us at (800) 434-8399. We can respond within 24 hours and set up a free consultation about your case.