Often, when a worker injures his back on the job, the human resources manager will take down a claim and refer the worker to an industrial clinic for evaluation and treatment. All too often, the industrial clinic or other posted panel doctor will take X-rays, perform some basic neurological tests, then release the worker back to full duty work after a day or two of rest.
I often get these cases four to six weeks later when the injured worker finds himself unable to work because of severe back pain and limited mobility. In some instances the injured worker faces pressure and even harassment from his employer due to his decreased productivity, and when I get the case, the employer/insurer may try to argue that any serious injury to the employee may have happened at home instead of at work.
Recently I represented a very nice young man in a back injury case that clearly demonstrates why X-rays are insufficient to evaluate back pain.
My client is a 31 year old man whose job involved installing and reinstalling fence posts. Starting at 8 AM, my client, using a sledge hammer, loosened fence posts by breaking up their cement foundations, cleaned the post base, then reinstalled the post with fresh cement. Beside using the sledge hammer, my client had to carry heavy buckets of cement and pour them in to holes in the ground.
By 2 PM that day, my client felt a "pop" in his back when he tried to lift the sledge hammer and he felt radiating pain in both legs. He reported the injury to his supervisor, who referred him to an industrial clinic. The clinic doctor took X-rays which described "mild disc space narrowing at L4-5" but no other impairment.
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