Degenerative Disc Disease Arising from the Workplace
Workplace injuries often take two forms: sudden injuries that arise immediately with sudden and severe damage, and repetitive stress injuries that are the result of the same types of actions being taken over time, causing long term stress and injury to the body.
Often times, the two are very distinct. For example, breaking a leg because of a fall is clearly a sudden injury, while carpal tunnel syndrome arises as a repetitive stress injury. In other instances, however, workers can experience an injury that spans both categories. One such type of injury is degenerative disc disease.
Degenerative Disc Disease in Cherry Hill
Degenerative disc disease is the cause of major back and neck pain for countless Americans across the country. Between every individual’s vertebrae are soft spongy discs that act to absorb shock when our bodies move and when our spines twist and turn.
Whether as a result of a sudden incident (like a car accident) or because of serious WEAR and TEAR over time, these discs can become inflamed, causing significant pain when normal pressure is placed on them. The result can be significantly reduced mobility for individuals and an inability to undertake certain activities that place stress on those joints, such as lifting heavy objects.
Employees become more susceptible to degenerative disc disease as they age, due to the normal WEAR and TEAR that occur on our bodies. Additionally, as the spongy discs in our back deteriorate, our body often compensates by producing bone spurs that can push on the nerves in the back and spinal cord and produce even more pain.
Degenerative Disc Injuries in the Workplace
Degenerative disc disease can, and often does, occur in the workplace. It can be the result of a sudden accident, like throwing out one’s back lifting a heavy object, a sudden fall on a slippery floor, or as a result of repetitive stress placed on the back and spine over time.
When a degenerative disc issue arises suddenly at work, it can be fairly easy to handle through a workers’ compensation claim because the injury can be reported and addressed immediately as is usually the result of a readily identifiable accident.
When the disc issue is a result of repetitive stress over time, it can be much more difficult to prove that it is actually related to a work experience. This is because your discs may degenerate slowly for any number of different reasons that may or may not be related to work. For example, if you frequently lift heavy objects at home or enjoy activities such as horseback riding, these may have an impact on your back.
This does not mean that just because you have a repetitive stress injury you will not be able to make a workers’ compensation claim. If your work activities were a material contributing factor to the causation, aggravation, exacerbation, or acceleration of your degenerative disc disease, you can and should be able to receive compensation for the medical expenses that you incur and the time off work. However, you must also be prepared to make a detailed argument to your insurer about why your injury is work related.
Proving Your Degenerative Disc Claim
The best way to support a workers’ compensation claim for a degenerative disc or any repetitive stress injury is to keep careful and detailed documentation of your injury and how it occurs. When you first notice that you are having back problems, keep detailed notes of how and when the pain arises and what activities at work seem to aggravate the pain. However, be sure to keep in mind that you have two years from when you knew or should have known that your WEAR and TEAR injury was related to your work to file a claim
When you visit a doctor, it is likewise important that your physician keep thorough notes and investigate how your pain is related to your workplace obligations. If they believe that your job requirements have caused the degenerative disc disease or aggravated it, it is important that they make sure to document these conclusions.
When making a workers’ compensation claim, you want to know that you will have a good paper trail to support your claim and show that it is not the result of some outside pursuit but rather the direct consequence of your occupational environment.
New Jersey Attorneys Assisting You in Making a Claim
If you are experiencing significant back or neck pain that impacts you on the job and is a result of your workplace environment, you should report this injury to your employer as soon as possible. Making an immediate claim can go a long way toward easing the workers’ compensation process.
No matter when your claim is filed, you should clearly explain to your employer and workers’ compensation insurer why the injury is workplace related and provide comprehensive documentation.
While there are a myriad of jobs that could contribute a degenerative disc, back, neck pain, or other types of WEAR and TEAR injuries, the following list represents a few examples of industries and jobs with potential claims due to repetitive, job related physical stress.
- Almost all construction trade employees/construction labor
- Many casino positions, including food and beverage servers, housekeepers, dealers, EVS/maintenance, HVAC mechanics, etc.
- Medical professionals, including nurses, nurse’s aides, and physical therapists
- Emergency response/law enforcement personnel, including police officers, firefighters, and EMTs
- Trucking and delivery employees
- Secretarial/computer/data entry employees
- Warehouse and retail operations positions, including stockers/material handlers
- Landscaping/excavation and heavy equipment operators
- Utility workers, including cable, telephone, electric, etc.
- Highway maintenance and service industry employees
At Petro Cohen, P.C., our workers’ compensation attorneys can assist you in the process. In fact, we have successfully handled thousands of WEAR and TEAR claims for our clients and have many testimonials of their satisfaction. Petro Cohen, P.C. has been consistently recognized as one of New Jersey’s leading firms in the area of workers’ comp. The firm received the highest rating by Martindale-Hubbell – the world’s foremost authority on law firm credentials – in Professional Excellence and Ethical Standards and Legal Ability.
Our New Jersey workers’ comp attorneys have more than 100 years of combined experience, having successfully handled thousands of litigated workers’ comp cases throughout New Jersey and are ready to help you with your workplace injury case. This experience and winning track record means that you are going to have a skilled New Jersey work injury lawyer who will work hard to ensure you received the benefits you deserve.
For more information or a free consultation with one of our workers’ comp attorneys, contact us online or at (888) 675-7607.