Can You Get Workers’ Compensation for Back Strain?

Back strain is one of the most common reasons people file workers’ compensation claims today. Why? Well, according to data from Ohio State University, subtle repeated actions done incorrectly over time often strain our backs. Recurring actions are, unfortunately, the hallmark of many jobs, particularly in factories or on construction sites. In fact, OSU’s data shows the average workers’ comp claim for back strain is $40,000-$80,000 per employee.

The cause of lower back strain is due to an injury to a muscle (strain) or ligament (sprain). Common causes of this kind of pain include improper lifting, poor posture, lack of regular exercise, fracture, ruptured disk, or arthritis. According to the Mayo Clinic, most low back pain goes away on its own in two to four weeks. Physical therapy and pain relievers can help the condition improve, but some circumstances may require surgery.

In any case, when your back muscles flare up due to an injury or strain received on the job, you may need to miss work. You can indeed get workers’ compensation for this problem. Good news — it means you have no copays for medical treatment or testing.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, several industries stand out for back injury reports requiring days away from work. These include transportation and warehousing jobs, where there were 32.6 incidences per 10,000 workers in 2020. Health care and social assistance workers came in second, with 23.6 workers out of every 10,000 needing time off work for back injuries. The numbers are also high for those who work in education, farming, and retail.

Back injuries are the most common injuries in construction, according to the Center for Construction Research and Training. In 2015, back injuries accounted for 17% of non-fatal injuries. Unfortunately, this results in days away from work in construction, based on the data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Construction workers have a higher risk of back injuries than all other industries, with the exception of transportation and retail.

The risk of back injuries varies among construction sub-sectors. Finish carpentry contractors reported the highest rate of back injuries (58.1 per 10,000 full-time workers), followed by masonry contractors. This is likely a result of workers lifting and carrying materials, bending and twisting their bodies, and making repetitive motions.

Back Strain is a Big Problem for Workers

If you’re experiencing back strain, you’re far from the only one. Back strain causes a lot of missed work days for employees across an array of industries. According to 2016 BLS data, back strain was the number-one injury requiring taking time off from work that year. At least 90,120 employees who filed workers’ comp claims for back strain qualified for lost-wage payments that year.

  • The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reports that 25.9 million people lose an average of 7.2 days of work due to back pain in one year.
  • According to the World Health Organization, “the lifetime prevalence of non-specific (common) back pain is estimated at 60% to 70% in industrialized countries.” This means that two out of every three people will experience back strain or pain in their lives.
  • Liberty Mutual, the largest workers’ compensation insurance provider in the United States, says overexertion injuries — lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying or throwing an object — cost employers $13.4 billion every year.
  • BLS data for 2020 shows that back injuries across all occupations required employees to take 9-14 days off work, on average.

How Does Workers’ Comp Protect Injured Employees?

By agreeing to receive workers’ compensation, explains Investopedia, workers agree to give up their right to sue their employer for negligence. This agreement was designed to protect both workers and employers. Workers give up the right to sue in exchange for guaranteed compensation; employers accept a certain amount of liability and avoid lawsuits.

Workers’ compensation differs from disability insurance or unemployment income because it only pays workers injured while doing their jobs. Disability insurance pays out regardless of when or where your injury occurs or how you become disabled. Workers’ compensation does not cover unemployment, but it is always tax-free income.

If you’ve been denied workers’ compensation for back strain, consult with a workers’ comp attorney for free about your back injury issues. Lawyers in our network provide contingency-based legal assistance and give free claim advice over the phone. If a workers’ comp attorney cannot get you a cash settlement for your back injury, you pay $0 for legal assistance. And if your case wins, you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.

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Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity,, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.