Those who have ever experienced a herniated, bulged, or ruptured disc know first-hand the excruciating pain that comes along with this type of injury. What fewer workers know is that their herniated disc may be job-related. If so, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
At the New Jersey workers’ compensation law firm of Petro Cohen, P.C., our dedicated team of attorneys helps injured employees get approved for benefits. We work closely with our clients and their medical providers to overcome the many hurdles they may face along the way. With over 100 years of collective experience handling workers’ compensation claims throughout New Jersey, we’re familiar with the laws and regulations that govern these claims.
What Is a Herniated Disc?
To better understand herniated discs, it helps to have a little background knowledge of the spine. The spine consists of 33 vertebrae, although in most adults, several of the vertebrae normally fuse together, leaving 26 moveable vertebrae. In between most of the vertebrae are soft, cushiony discs. These discs serve several purposes, including
- Absorbing shock and vibrations;
- Holding the vertebrae together; and
- Allowing smooth movement of the vertebrae.
When humans are born, vertebral discs consist of 70 to 80% water. Water acts as a lubricant, and it is crucial for discs to stay hydrated. However, as we age, vertebral discs naturally start to deteriorate. Disc degeneration can be painful, although that is not always the case.
A herniated disc occurs when part of the disc slips out from its inner housing and protrudes into the spinal canal. Because the spinal canal is quite narrow, there isn’t room for both the spinal cord and the herniated portion of the disc. This causes the disc to press up against the spinal cord, which results in pain. Most often, herniated discs occur in the lumbar (lower back) and cervical (neck) regions.
Not only are vertebral discs crucial to movement, but when damaged, they can cause severe ongoing pain. And because discs do not receive blood, they have no way to heal themselves, meaning surgery is often the only option for those experiencing herniated discs.
What Causes a Herniated Disc?
Herniated discs can occur for many reasons. Sometimes, they result from a single strain or twisting motion. Other times, making the same repetitive movements over and over can cause stress to vertebral discs. Over time, this stress can result in a herniated disc. For example, those who work in occupations requiring them to frequently lift heavy objects or contort their body in awkward positions are at risk of developing a herniated disc. A few examples of jobs where herniated discs are common include:
- Warehouse workers,
- Construction workers,
- Landscape workers,
- Masonry workers,
- Truck and bus drivers, and
- Nursing home workers.
If you believe that your herniated disc is work-related, you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. However, obtaining benefits for a repetitive use injury (also known as a repetitive stress injury or RSI), such as a herniated disc, can be challenging. Thus, it’s a good idea to reach out to a New Jersey workers’ comp lawyer for assistance.
Can You Get Workers’ Comp Benefits for a Herniated Disc?
Yes, employees suffering from a herniated disc may receive workers’ compensation benefits. However, like all workers’ comp applications, you will need to prove that your herniated disc was caused, at least in part, by your job. Otherwise, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier will almost certainly deny your claim. Insurance companies are always looking for ways to reduce costs, and with WEAR and TEAR injuries, it is easier for an insurance company to justify the denial of your claim.
Ideally, you will get a professional medical opinion linking your injuries to your job. However, this can be challenging because discs break down over time, and doctors will rarely claim that they can pinpoint the exact cause of a herniated disc. If your doctor says that your work caused the herniated disc, your odds are much better; however, it is possible to qualify for workers’ comp benefits by presenting other evidence. For example, if you were hurt at work, you may be able to present a work-injury report along with an X-ray of the herniated disc.
Regardless, workers’ comp claims based on WEAR and TEAR injuries can be challenging to prove, but not impossible. Working with an experienced lawyer who has familiarity with these specific claims can increase your chances of receiving benefits. Attorneys understand the workers’ compensation process as well as how insurance companies handle such claims. This knowledge often makes the difference in getting your claim approved.
Trust the WEAR and TEAR Law Firm
If you are suffering from a herniated disc or other workplace injury, the experience workers’ comp lawyers at Petro Cohen, P.C. are here to help.
We understand that, unfortunately, WEAR and TEAR or repetitive stress injuries are becoming increasingly common in certain industries. Approximately 60 percent of work-related injuries involve this occupational overuse syndrome.
If you believe you suffer from a WEAR and TEAR injury and it may be work-related, don’t be afraid to seek medical help. Let your doctor know you believe it is a workplace injury.
At Petro Cohen P.C., we have helped many employees who suffered WEAR and TEAR injuries and are often referred to as “The WEAR and TEAR Law Firm.” Our exceptional workers’ compensation team, led by Frank Petro, has the knowledge, skills, and experience to successfully handle your claim, making sure you get the medical treatment that you need and the compensation you deserve.
Petro Cohen, P.C. has four convenient offices to serve you in southern New Jersey, including Northfield, Cape May Court House, Cherry Hill, and Hamilton. We are also available 24/7 via Live Chat at Petro Cohen.com.
To determine if you may have a potential WEAR and TEAR claim, schedule a confidential appointment with one of Petro Cohen’s workers’ comp attorneys by calling 888-675-7607 or e-mailing us at info@PetroCohen.com