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Can I Get Workers’ Compensation for Back Pain?

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Can I Get Workers’ Compensation for Back Pain?

Mitchell Byrd, Attorney, Carolina Law Group, Greenville, SC

Mitchell K. Byrd, Jr. | Attorney

Back pain is a relatively common result from an injury in the workplace. In 2016, there were 892,270 nonfatal injuries in private industry resulting in days off of work; 154,180 of those (17%) were back-related, resulting in a median 7 days out of work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If you’re experiencing back pain on the job, you may be wondering if your back pain is covered by workers’ compensation here in South Carolina. Let’s look at when back pain is and isn’t covered, and some of the challenges of getting treatment for back pain covered by workers’ comp.

Is My Back Pain Covered by Workers’ Comp?

To be covered by workers compensation, back pain must be the result of an accident that occurred on the job or the result of working conditions such as repetitive trauma. Back pain will not likely be covered by workers’ comp if it’s the result of an accident that happened outside of work or a pre-existing condition. It’s fair to say that most people will experience activity-related back pain in their life, but it must be causally related to (caused by or aggravated by) the work injury before workers’ comp will cover it.

Causes of acute back injuries in the workplace include improper lifting technique, falls, and motor vehicle accidents that damage muscles, ligaments, tendons, or discs in the back. These types of accidents can lead to immediate back pain and are often clearly linked to an accident in the workplace. In these cases, you should report the accident as soon as possible to your supervisor so a claim can be made promptly and medical treatment provided for the injury.

Back Pain Resulting from Repetitive Motion

When there are clear cut cases of back injury due to work, a workers’ compensation claim may be relatively straightforward. However, it becomes more complicated when the origin of the back pain is not a single event, as in the examples above, but is the result of repetitive motion.

Repetitive motion exerts force on the back muscles which can cause back problems over time. This can result in repetitive stress injuries, also called cumulative trauma injuries or repetitive motion injuries. Workers in jobs that require repeated twisting, bending, or lifting may be prone to these kinds of back injuries. Workers who must sit or stand in an awkward position for long periods of time could be at higher risk, too.

Because it’s impossible to attach an exact date and event to back injury from repetitive motion, it can be more challenging to demonstrate that the pain did result from work. Insurance companies and employers may claim that the back pain is a pre-existing injury or is age-related and therefore not eligible for workers’ compensation coverage. It’s up to you to demonstrate that the repetitive duties of your normal working conditions caused the back injury.

Partner with a Workers’ Compensation Attorney on Your Claim

If you’re suffering back pain due to a workplace injury or repetitive motion, you should work with a workers’ compensation lawyer. The workers’ comp attorneys at The Carolina Law Group can help you present your case so you’re in a strong position to get the compensation you’re entitled to under the law.

The Carolina Law Group has four offices in upstate South Carolina for your convenience: Greenville (principal office; call 864.312.4444), West Greenville (864.312.4444), Greer (principal office; call 864.757.5555), and Spartanburg (principal office; call 864.757.5555). Call today.


Mitchell Byrd received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Wofford College in 2000. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 2004, where he served on the American Bar Association Real Property, Probate, and Trust Journal. He was also an active member of the University of South Carolina Moot Court Bar. Since being sworn into the South Carolina Bar in 2004, Mr. Byrd has focused on litigation, within the criminal justice system as an economics crime prosecutor for the Thirteenth Circuit Solicitor’s Office and also within the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation system.

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