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BACK INJURIES & MARYLAND WORKERS COMPENSATION

Back Injury Workers Compensation

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Back Injury Cases and Maryland Workers Compensation

Spinal injuries can have devastating and lasting affects to those who sustain them.  For some who were injured at work it could mean a lifetime of pain management, prescriptions medications, surgery, and injections.  For other injured workers it could mean a few weeks of physical therapy and some Tylenol.

It is important to have an experienced workers compensation attorney to understand the progression of treatment, diagnostics, and display of objective and subjective findings that are typical in a back injury case.  Is the back injury of a minor nature which may only require some physical therapy or chiropractic modalities or is it a bit more serious and requiring injections and pain management?  If workers comp won’t approve pain management for the back injury what arguments must an attorney make to get the treatment authorized?

An experienced  Maryland workers comp attorney will be able to give a ball park estimate as to the value of a claim if he or she has necessary information including the amount of medical treatment, remaining complaints or problems once discharged from treatment, the wages an employee was making at the time of the accident, future medical coverage expected, an impairment rating and other factors.

As you continue to read please keep in mind that Mr. Rodabaugh is not medically trained and the information provided is solely informational and not medical nor legal advice.  There may be inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and wrong medical statements.  Any treatment advice should be obtained from a professional trained in medicine. 

Workers Compensation Back Injury Treatment and Value of the case

There is an ordinary progress of medical treatment that is provided to injured workers who have sustained back or spinal injuries.  Conservative measures ordinarily come first.  This may include medication, steroids, physical therapy, and chiropractic therapies.  In some cases therapy or chiropractic care is put on hold so that a diagnostic test may first be performed.  Sometimes it is important to know what is happening inside the injured workers back before trying to strengthen or manipulate through therapies.  Once therapies are exhausted the more aggressive treatment may be necessary.  Ordinarily therapy is stopped when the recommended number of sessions are completed or the injured worker is no longer benefiting from the treatment.

More aggressive treatment options in workers compensation back injury cases may include cortisone injections, trigger point injections, nerve blocks.  Other than injections there are a number of sugical procedures that may be performed in certain workers compensation back injury cases.  These may include a nerve ablation which consists of burning a nerve to stop the transfer of pain.  Other surgical procedures may include a back laminectomy or foraminotomy because of the work injury.  In some of the more serious back injury cases the injured worker may required the more invasive spinal surgery consisting of a hardware placement.  There are a number of fusion procedures that may be used for any workers compensation back injury cases.

Some of the more common back surgeries seen in workers comp cases:

  • Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)
  • Posterolateral Lumbar Fusion (PLF)
  • Posterolateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF)
  • Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF)
  • Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion, Direct Lumbar Interbody Fusion, Extreme Lumbar Interbody Fusion (LLIF, DLIF, XLIF)
  • “plasty”- Kyphoplasty, Vertebroplasty, Sacroplasty,

Hardware used for workers compensation back surgery may include:

  • Screws, plates and rods,
  • Artificial Disc prosthesis,
  • Stainless steel wire
  • Spinal Simulator
  • Spinal Fusion cages

The extent of the treatment will give an experienced workers compensation attorney an idea of the value of the case.

There is a clear distinction in settlement value between an injured worker who underwent a multi-level fusion and an injured worker who underwent 13 physical therapy visits.  The question becomes more complicated when dealing with someone who was injured at work who underwent 13 physical therapy sessions and an injured worker underwent only 6 physical therapy visits.  Likewise the question becomes more complicated when dealing with the someone injured at work who underwent 13 physical therapy sessions, 3 series of cortisone injections, and was offered surgery but declined versus someone who was injured at work and immediately had a discectomy or laminotomy.

For a no cost consultation with Washington County workers comp Attorney Andrew M. Rodabaugh call  +1 (410) 937-1659  , Email ,  or fill out the form at the bottom of this page.

 

Future or ongoing treatment for the workers compensation back injury?

In a great majority of spinal surgery cases I have handled there is often expected future medical treatment.  If an MRI has been performed and it indicates a herniation or has substantial findings then conservative treatment may eventually be exhausted and more aggressive treatment may be needed at a later date in the future.  A minimally invasive discectomy will occasionally lead to the need for a more invasive fusion.  (This is of course my opinion as an attorney and not a physician.  Further inquiry should be with a qualified spinal surgeon.)

Unlike a typical personal injury case such as car accidents or slip and falls, a workers compensation case involving the back may very well include future medical treatment to the back paid for by workers comp.

Expected future medical care usually has more of an effect on settlement than on permanency however it can be a factor that influences the permanency award.  If the injured worker fully recovers from back injury sustained at work then he will not benefit from the argument that future medical treatment is expected.  However, if a doctor is stating that there may be future spinal treatment needed, or if the injured employees attorney is rehearsed in spotting likelihood of future treatment a higher settlement demand can be expected.

 

Diagnostic Tests and workers compensation back injury case.

Diagnostic tests can play a huge roll in determining the value of a spinal injury case and the amount of medical treatment that may be needed.  The reasoning is that there is objective evidence supporting the fact that the worker actually sustained a spinal injury and is not simply feigning the injury.  CT scans can provide the proof the injured worker has a massive disc herniation because of the work accident.  X-rays can prove the injured worker has a fractured vertebrae, an MRI can prove that injured worker actually has disc bulges from a work accident.

It is important that an employee that is injured in Maryland obtain competent and qualified legal counsel to handle his or her workers compensation claim.  Consultations are free and representation is on a contingency basis.

Permanent complaints, restrictions, and problems workers compensation back injury case

A permanency award will be issued by the Maryland Workers Compensation Commission after a hearing and testimony regarding any permanent issues the worker has with his or her back.  The permanency award will be based on just that- permanent problems.  If the injured worker fully recovers from their accident there could likely be very little if any permanency compensation to the injured worker.  In some limited circumstances, just undergoing back surgery or treatment and having scars can produce a permanency impairment even if the injured employee has no complaints.  This is ultimately determined by a Commissioner after reviewing medical records, IME’s, and by the American Medical Associations Guide to Permanent Impairment 4th Ed.

A permanency evaluation/ rating / Independent Medical Evaluation for a workers comp back injury

Once treatment is finalized and the patient is released to return to work, or the patient is only undergoing palliative medical care, the injured will be ready to get “rated” for their back injury.  How do you know when an injured worker is ready for a rating?  The treating doctor will indicate to the patient that there is no further treatment recommended and follow ups should be as needed or on occasion.  The treating doctor may also indicate that the injured workers back is as good as it will get and the worker is at Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI).

On occasion a back injury may require ongoing palliative medical treatment.  Palliative treatment consists of treatment to keep the workers back complaints at a certain level and avoid worsening.  For purposes of having the worker rated, this is essentially the same as a finding of Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI).

The rating or medical evaluation to the injured workers back will be performed by means of an Independent Medical Evaluation (IME).  This will ordinarily be scheduled by the injured workers Attorney, and a second one will be scheduled by the workers compensation insurer.

Wages at the time of the accident will impact settlement value of a workers comp case involving the back

The wages an employee earns may hugely effect on the amount of compensation they can expect at a permanency hearing.  Maryland legislation provides statutes to determine the average weekly wage.  The average gross wage affects what the injured worker will receive at permanency.  Comparing two individuals with the same exact injury and treatment but with different wages can help shed some light on this problem.

Both employees sustained spinal injuries which resulted in a minimally invasive discectomy.  As permanency approached they obtained their ratings, went to a hearing and were both awarded 20% to the back.  Employee A was a substitute teacher and earned $50 dollars a week on average.  Employee B was a construction worker making $1,000 weekly.  Here are the number and how it would play out.

A- 100 x $50= $5,000
B- 100 x $343= $34,300

This is an example of how wages can grossly affect the amount of a recover and this same scenario does occasionally occur.

For a no cost consultation with Washington County workers comp Attorney Andrew M. Rodabaugh call  +1 (410) 937-1659  , Email ,  or fill out the form at the bottom of this page.

I endorse Mr. Rodabaugh.  He is a true asset to our legal community.  Very helpful on Avvo and a great e [sic] in the field.
Mark C.Immigration Attorney

See my discussion on ratings.
See also settlement versus permanency

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