What to do if you suffered an overexertion injury on the job
There are many industries and types of jobs in North Carolina that provide employment opportunities and help sustain the local economy. Depending on the specific duties you carry out in the course of an average workday, you might feel tired or sore when you get home. Feeling a bit fatigued is a lot different than suffering a workplace injury that causes pain or impedes your ability to function on a daily basis.
Overexertion injuries in the workplace are surprisingly common, as these statistics show:
- Overexertion is the most common cause of workers’ compensation claims in the United States, and the third leading cause of overall injury. An estimated 3.5 million overexertion injuries happen every year.
- The industries most at risk for overexertion injuries are transportation and warehousing.
- The average number of days lost after an overexertion accident is 13.
- The estimated cost of overexertion injuries is around $10 billion per year, accounting for 25 percent of all workers’ comp benefit payouts. This cost is more than double the second-highest cause (slip and falls), and 4 times more than repetitive motion injuries.
- Back pain is the most frequent symptom of injury after an overexertion accident.
It’s important to know how to file a claim for workers’ comp to obtain benefits that can help you during your recovery.
What causes overexertion injuries at work?
Most overexertion injuries in the workplace occur while someone is lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying or holding an object. As opposed to an impact injury—such as injuries that occur during a motor vehicle collision—an overexertion injury is non-impact, typically occurring from strenuous movement.
If you are a nurse’s aide, a rescue worker, hospital orderly or warehouse laborer, you’re at greater risk for overexertion since lifting and carrying and other movements are a normal part of your job.
Types and signs of overexertion in the workplace
If you overexert yourself at work, you can injure a muscle or tendon. Sprains, strains and tears are the 3 most common types of muscle and tendon injuries that can not only be severely painful but may also impede your ability to work. If you have an injury from overexertion, you might suffer a herniated disc or pinched nerve. Other common exertion injuries include a meniscus tear, bursitis or a hernia.
While these types of injuries can occur if you bend at the waist to lift a heavy object, it’s also possible that a much less strenuous activity—such as typing or repeatedly raising your arms above your head—may also cause overexertion. Sometimes, surgery or physical therapy may be needed to recover.
These symptoms suggest that you may have suffered an overexertion injury:
- Dull or stabbing pain or throbbing
- Inflammation of a body part
- Swelling or bruising
- Tingling sensation or numbness
- Inability to bear weight on a limb
- Inability to use a wrist, arm or hand
- Lack of mobility
If one or more of these symptoms arise after you have been lifting, pulling, pushing, carrying or holding something at work, it’s best to seek immediate medical attention. Doing so also creates written documentation of the incident, which will come in handy if you wind up filing a workers’ compensation claim.
North Carolina workers’ compensation laws
Most (though not all) employers in North Carolina are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance to provide benefits for injured workers.
Employers are also generally obligated to provide necessary information and equipment, as well as proper training to help you stay safe as you carry out your duties in the workplace. If you suffer a workplace injury, it’s important that you alert your employer of the incident and file all necessary paperwork to record the incident in a timely manner. Always make copies of documents pertaining to your claim.
What if your workers’ comp claim is denied?
Your employer or an insurance company might try to deny your workers’ compensation claim. If this happens, you can appeal the denial, in which case, it’s helpful to seek support from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
Under North Carolina law, you typically can’t file a lawsuit against your employer regarding damages suffered in a workplace accident. However, there are exceptions to the rule, such as if your employer failed to purchase the required workers’ compensation insurance.
Obtaining a full recovery after a workplace injury
There are approximately 90,000 or more workplace injuries every week in the U.S. Even an issue that seems minor, such as a sprained wrist, can cause a lot of pain and discomfort and even prevent you from being able to return to work. A more severe injury might prompt a need for you to have additional support on hand to help you function, such as taking care of personal hygiene, eating and dressing.
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you protect your rights and make sure that you are able to get the benefits you need as you navigate through recovery.