Question: My work involves a lot of heavy lifting over a 10 hour shift. For the past few weeks, I’ve been feeling a lot of pain in my low back. My floor boss is busting me because my production numbers are going down. I told him that I have a lot of pain in my back, that I’m having trouble keeping up, and that I don’t know if I can continue to keep working. I also told him that I believe my back problems are a result of all the lifting I do at work. The boss asked me if there was any specific injury date that I could pinpoint. I told him that there wasn’t a specific date and that it happened over time. But I also told him that I believe the everyday wear and tear caused by all the lifting and other heavy labor at work is what’s causing the problem. The supervisor told me that without a specific injury or specific event, he can’t turn the injury in to workers comp. I then asked him if I could go see a doctor to get checked out. He screamed at me and said ”No injury date. No comp claim. No medical treatment that I’m paying for”. I don’t know what to do. Is this a comp injury? Anonymous, Stroudsburg, Pa.
Answer: An injury does not need to be pinpointed to a specific event or incident to qualify as a work “injury” under the Pa. Workers Compensation Act. As long as you are able to prove that the injury (i.e. your low back symptoms) arose in the course and scope of employment and is related to your employment, you may qualify for workers compensation benefits. Work injuries like the one you are describing can be shown to be the result of the cumulative effect of the recurring trauma of your work duties. In such cases, the date of injury is usualy characterized as the last date that you performed the work activities and experienced your symptoms. If the employer will not allow you to see their “comp doctor” (or panel physician), you need to get in to see a doctor. Tell the doctor the history that you’ve described in your email. If the doctor is able to offer an opinion that the work activities substantially contributed to your condition and your diminished ability to perform your job, then you have valid grounds to file a workers compensation claim.
If you’ve suffered a work injury and have questions about your claim, contact me at [email protected] or call (570) 347-1011 for a free consultation.
Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive. Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal issues discussed in this column.