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How do I know if my back injury at work is a North Carolina workers’ compensation claim?

Often our office receives calls from workers who are trying to determine if their hurt back is a workers’ compensation claim.  Some are obvious, such as being in a car accident and having immediate back pain.  Many however are far less obvious.  An injury is compensable when the injury is by accident arising out of and in the course of the employment N.C.G.S. 97-2(6) (1991). However, in order to establish a compensable (related and payable under North Carolina Workers’ Compensation) injury to the back, plaintiff must prove that the disabling back injury arose out of and in the course of the employment and was the direct result of either an accident or a specific traumatic incident of the work assigned. N.C. Gen. Stat. §97-2(6); Richards v. Town of Valdese, 92 N.C. App. 222, 224, 374 S.E.2d 116, 118 (1988). disc. review denied, 324 N.C. 337, 378 S.E.2d 799 (1989). Under the specific traumatic incident theory, plaintiff is not required to prove that the injury arose from an unusual occurrence or departure from ordinary duties. Fish v. Steelcase, inc., 116 N.C. App. 703, 707,449 S.E.2d 233, 237 (1994), cert. denied, 339 N.C. 737,454 S.E.2d 650 (1995).  Furthem10re, our courts have held that an injury is compensable if it is caused by an accident that arises out of employment. materially accelerates or aggravates a pre-existing condition. and proximately contributes to disability. N.C. Gen. Stat. ~97-2(6). Often clients call us after picking up something heavy or awkward at work and having immediate pain afterwards.  Clients also have compensable back injuries from turning landing gear on large trucks or twisting to put down something heavy.  In workers’ compensation in North Carolina the compensable nature of an injury often turns on the smallest and least obvious facts such as how the doctor records your injury at the first visit or whom at work you report your injury. If you have any questions about the compensable nature of an injury give our office a call to discuss.


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