A NC Workers’ Compensation Back Injury is different than other workers’ compensation injuries in North Carolina.
An injury is compensable (payable) when the injury is by accident arising out of and in the course of the employment N.C.G.S. 97-2(6) (1991). An injury to the back is compensable when it is “…the direct result of specific traumatic incident of the work assigned…” N.C.G.S. 97-2(6) (1991); Glynn v. Pepcom Industries, Inc., 122 N.C. App. 348, 469 S.E.2d 588 (1996).
Often an injury to the back can occur by lifting, twisting, pushing or pulling something whereby the employee suddenly has pain.
After a serious back injury, the injuried worker bears the initial burden of proving that he can no longer earn his pre-injury wages in the same or similar employment, and that the diminished earning capacity is a result of the compensable back injury. Gilberto v. Wake Forest University, 152 N.C. App. 112, 566 S.E.2d 788 (2002). To demonstrate disability from the back or neck injury an injured worker must prove he is unable to earn the same or similar wages he had earned before the injury, either in the same employment or in other employment. Hilliard v. Apex Cabinet Co., 305 N.C. 593, 595, 290 S.E.2d 682, 684 (1982).
“Disability” is defined under the Workers’ Compensation Act as “incapacity because of injury to earn the wages which the employee was receiving at the time of injury in the same or any other employment.” N.C.G.S. § 97-2(9) (2001).
Our office has handled back injury cases and has handled numerous back injury cases appealed to the NC Court of Appeals. Most recently we helped a nurse injured at a local hospital obtain her benefits after a prolonged fight. Both Susan O’Malley and Joe Tunstall have represented injured workers’ whose cases took them to the North Carolina Supreme Court to win benefits for injured workers. Visit our workers’ compensation section on our website.