Home » Work Injuries » How to Handle a Workplace Back Injury


The first thing to do in handling a workplace back injury is to get help. Medical help right away. Give the supervisor or owner of the business notice of what happened to you. Follow up with the right attorney for your case in order to protect your benefits under the law.

Back pain is a reality for so many people. Too often, it is the cause of a daily struggle to live a positive and productive life. The back injury statistics are staggering:

  • Back pain is the most common disabling condition worldwide. This often prevents workers from engaging in gainful employment;


  • In the United States, back pain is one of the most cited reasons for missed workdays;


  • In the United States, 264 million lost workdays due to back pain on a yearly basis. The cost is 50 billion in annual health care costs; and


  • Worldwide, disability from back pain is increasing at an alarming rate.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), over one million back injuries occur on the job every single year. 2016 is the most current information (as of 2022). The prevalence of back injuries on the job almost certainly remains high today. The BLS reflects that, as of 2016, 38.5% of all work-related accidents involve the back. The nature of the job has an impact. Nursing assistants, for example, suffer back injuries 52.8% of all work injuries in their occupation. This is due to the physically demanding nature of lifting or lowering patients throughout the day and other tasks. Other health care professionals including doctors and nurses face similar hazards on a daily basis. Yet, all industries face the potential for back injuries when work duties include manual labor tasks.

Types of Back Injuries

Disks located between the vertebrae act as cushions for the activities of daily life.
Normal back disc of uninjured NJ worker
Herniated disc of back injured NJ worker

Herniated Disc: often the pushing out of the soft substance inside the disk (nucleus pulposus) which can put pressure on the nerve root. This pressure can result in pain, numbness or weakness. Any of which can be debilitating for the injured worker.

Disc bulge of back-injured NJ worker

Bulging Disc: this often occurs when a disk develops a weak spot and expands beyond its normal area. Pain can result if the bulge puts pressure on the nerve root.

Back Fractures: can involve compression of the spinal cord with pain and discomfort. A severe back fracture can involve a piece of the vertebra becoming dislodged. This can impact the spinal cord.

Lumbar or Cervical radiculopathy in the lumbar or cervical area of the spine can cause shooting-type of pain. The pain can travel from the injured area of the back. And down the legs or arms resulting in a tingling sensation or numbness.
In the event of a back injury, activities of daily living can be interrupted. Activities of daily living include driving, bathing, shopping, parenting responsibilities and recreational pursuits. This can have major consequences on quality of life. Often there is no relief whether standing, sitting or lying down.  

What To Do When Your Back Injury is On The Job?

An authorized Workman Comp Physician treating the back pain of an injured worker
The New Jersey Workers Compensation law provides employees hurt at work with both medical and wage benefits. The goal of swift and adequate benefits. This is to avoid catastrophic financial fallout from on-the-job injuries.
Employers have a mandatory obligation to have workers compensation insurance in place. This includes adequate coverage amounts based on the earnings of the employees over a designated period of time. The goal is to avoid the all too real possibility that the employer would not be able to self-insure against losses from work accidents. And thus, be unable to provide timely and necessary wage and medical benefits to injured workers. The employer’s workers comp insurance coverage transfers financial risks of work injuries. The obligation of paying benefits for work accidents is with the insurance company. 

Get Medical Advice and Help

See a doctor to get a diagnosis of your injury. Follow the treatment plan given to you even if your injury seems minor at first.  The employer or more likely the employer’s insurance carrier will direct you to the appropriate medical provider. Who is the appropriate medical provider is based on the nature of your injury.
Make sure you return for follow-up appointments if scheduled. As a result, you will recover as quickly as possible. You will also establish a paper trail of medical records. Medical records serve to document the injury. This includes treatment progress and any residual physical limitations remaining after medical treatment. Not keeping medical appointments is an easy out for an insurance company to deny you further benefits in workers compensation. Do not let that happen. Keep your medical appointments and follow your healthcare provider’s plan of treatment. 

Notice to the Employer: Tell your Employer What Happened

The employee is required to notify the employer of the workplace accident. The notice from the employee to the employer is preferably given in writing but written notice is not required.
Your employer must submit a First Report of Injury to the New Jersey Compensation Rating & Inspection Bureau (NJCRIB). This is through an electronic format through a secured network. And within 21 days of receiving notice of the workplace accident. An insurance carrier will typically file the report for the employer once the employer notifies the carrier of the accident. This form is a critical filing. It represents the first time that the State of New Jersey is notified by private employers of a workplace accident
There is also another form required from the employer. It is the Subsequent Report of Injury. This filing of the form is in the same manner as the First Report of Injury. It is due no later than 26 weeks after the earlier of the workers return to work or maximum medical improvement. Both forms are mandatory. Non-compliance results in a fine imposed on the employer.

Keep Track of Important Details

Memories can be short and key facts lost especially in times of high stress such as after a work accident. Details of changes to your daily activities are useful to show the nature and extent of the injury. You will need objective medical proof of your injuries in New Jersey workers compensation. But, the impact of your past symptoms and current symptoms on your activities on daily living or working ability can provide compelling supplemental evidence to support a fair and just award in settling the case or during trial before the Judge.

Summary Flow Chart on How To Handle a Workplace Back Injury

Please see below an important diagram of some basic concepts on how to handle a workplace back injury.

Key steps to handle a back injury at work key steps

The Importance of Workers Compensation in New Jersey

The current workers comp system in New Jersey provides workers with adequate wages and medical benefits. Also, a possible award of permanency if functional limitations persist beyond your course of medical treatment. The New Jersey Workers Compensation law, was first passed in 1911. Amendments reflect the current realities of the work environment for a modern-day workforce.   
This system reflects protections for both the employer and the employee. For the employer, a sudden huge expense covering medical and wage benefits of an injured employee may cause the business to close. Workman Comp insurance is readily available today in the New Jersey marketplace. This offsets the risk of liability for the work accident. For the employee, the quick payment of wages and medical benefits are necessary to offset a potential financial crisis. The employee needs time to recover from the work injury. 
It is difficult for any injured worker to understand the complexities of New Jersey Workers Compensation law. This is especially true when in the grip of a sudden unexpected accident. An accident that may jeopardize your health and financial well-being. A qualified New Jersey attorney of your choice can provide guidance and advocacy in navigating your case through the system. Last but not least, our contact number is (856) 596-8000.  

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