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What are my workers' compensation rights after a back injury?

Injuries to the back, spine and neck are some of the most painful and serious injuries a person can suffer. If you sustained a back injury in the course of your job duties, you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. The question then becomes, what benefits can you recover? In Nebraska, injured workers are eligible to recover the following medical benefits and wage loss benefits. Let’s discuss each of these benefits.

Medical benefits

When someone is injured at work, the employer or its insurer is responsible for paying the costs of all medical expenses, including hospital expenses, prescription drugs, and other reasonable expenses. One of the biggest issues in this area is whether the injured worker can see his or her doctor. In Nebraska, if an injured worker is already seeing a doctor who has kept the injured worker’s medical records, the injured employee can choose this doctor. If an injured worker does not have a doctor, the employer has the right to select the doctor.

Wage loss benefits

This is where things can get tricky, especially after a back injury. Under Nebraska law, a person who is injured at work could receive total disability benefits or partial disability benefits depending on the seriousness of the injury. If the doctor says that a person is unable to work due to the injury, this person is classified as totally disabled. With total disability benefits, an injured person can receive two-thirds of his or her average weekly wage, subject to legal limits.

Someone who is classified as partially disabled can work, but with limitations. In Nebraska, someone classified as having lost more than 75% use of their back is classified as totally disabled.

Partial disability benefits are paid at two-thirds of the difference of what the injured employee earned before the injury and what they earned now. For instance, if someone earned $800 a week before a back injury, but can only earn $500 a week after the injury, he or she would receive $200 a week in workers’ compensation benefits. This is two-thirds of the $300 difference in earnings. Partial disability benefits continue for up to 300 weeks, or just less than six years.

Employers and their insurers may go to great lengths to minimize your injuries or deny that they happened at work. For instance, employers could pressure an employee to come back early from their treatment, or claim that they are partially disabled when they are actually completed disabled. In these or other situations, an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can make all the difference in the world. For years, people across Omaha and the surrounding areas have placed their trust in Andres Law Office, PC LLO.

Sources: Article I, Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act, Rights and Obligations under the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act