Severe neck strain injuries known as “whiplash” are common in car accidents, but there are countless ways that workers can sustain whiplash injuries on the job. In addition to lingering neck pain, other symptoms of the condition can make it difficult for workers to perform everyday tasks and job duties.
Injured workers in Birmingham should immediately contact an Alabama workers’ compensation attorney to learn more about their rights after work-related accidents, including work injury compensation to cover medical expenses and lost wages during recovery.
What is whiplash?
The condition known as whiplash occurs when an impact quickly thrusts the head forward and backward, sending the neck through a range of motion that resembles that of a whip. The external force and sudden movement can cause the neck muscles to strain and the ligaments to sprain.
As a result, a person who has whiplash may experience any combination of the following:
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
- Upper back pain
- Arm pain
- Hand pain
- Numbness in the arms or hands
- Tingling in the arms or hands
- Blurred vision
Types of whiplash
Whiplash symptoms can range in severity. Therefore, the condition is categorized into grades. The grades are:
- Grade 0. There is no perceivable pain.
- Grade 1. Pain is the only symptom.
- Grade 2. Pain is present, along with bruising and swelling.
- Grade 3. Pain is accompanied by neurological symptoms, which may include headaches, dizziness or vision problems.
- Grade 4. Pain is accompanied by neurological problems that disrupt the individual’s daily life.
Causes of whiplash at work
Workers in certain occupations have an elevated risk of sustaining whiplash in an accident. For example, people whose job duties require driving may sustain whiplash injuries if they’re involved in a car or truck accident, such as:
- Truck drivers
- Police officers
- Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs)
However, drivers are not the only workers who may develop whiplash while at work. Other common workers with a high risk of whiplash injuries include the following:
- Agricultural workers
In addition to occupations that are inherently more dangerous, virtually any worker can sustain whiplash under certain circumstances. Slipping and falling in the workplace can also cause work-related whiplash.
Treatments for whiplash
Whiplash is not directly curable. However, the condition generally heals over time. Doctors prescribe treatment and medications to alleviate the symptoms of the condition as much as possible while allowing the body to heal.
Common treatments include:
- Medication for pain and inflammation
- Hot and cold compresses
- Physical therapy
- Prescribed rest
- Massage therapy
- TENS therapy
- Radiofrequency nerve ablation
- Spinal surgery
Workers’ compensation for Alabama workers affected by whiplash
Alabama’s state laws require Birmingham employers to provide access to workers’ compensation coverage to their full- and part-time employees. Employers may either carry workers’ compensation insurance or self-fund their workers’ compensation program.
Also referred to as workers’ comp, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system that allows injured workers to receive payment for their injuries without regard to whether the employer or the worker was at fault in the accident that caused the injury. Therefore, injured workers have access to a relatively fast, straightforward system that provides a legal remedy to support them in healing and returning to work.
To qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, the worker must be classified as an employee and at work or otherwise engaged in work-related activity at the time of the accident. Independent contractors and volunteers are generally not eligible to receive workers’ comp benefits; however, there may be other legal remedies available to injured workers who are in either category.
Filing a claim against a third party
In some cases, an injured worker may also be able to receive compensation by filing a third-party claim if another party (someone other than the employer) caused the worker’s injury.
For example, workers who are injured by another driver in a car or truck accident or by defective equipment may file an Alabama personal injury claim in court against the third party who’s at fault in addition to a workers’ comp claim.
Workers’ comp benefits available to eligible injured workers
Depending on the nature and extent of the injury, workers who are hurt on the job may receive different types of benefits. The 3 categories of workers’ compensation benefits are:
- Income supplementation to cover a portion of a worker’s lost wages if the injury requires time off from work
- Medical expense coverage for visits to the hospital, doctor bills, medical supplies, medical devices, prescriptions, and medical-related transportation
- Death benefits paid to the injured worker’s dependents if a work accident causes the injured worker’s death
How to file a workers’ comp claim in Birmingham, Alabama
Injured workers can begin the workers’ compensation program on their own. To file a claim, injured workers should:
- Seek medical attention to prevent the injury from getting worse and ensure it’s documented.
- Notify your employer of the injury within 5 days of the accident. In some cases, you may have up to 90 days, but the sooner you notify them, the better.
- Follow up to make sure your employer files a First Report of Injury form to begin the workers’ comp claim process.
- Contact an attorney if your claim is denied or you want assistance filing your claim.
Preventing whiplash injuries at work
There are several measures employers and workers may take to prevent whiplash injuries. Employers should implement and enforce standardized safety rules and procedures to help workers avoid accidents. Supervisors should also be in place to ensure workers understand the safety rules and remain in compliance.
Additionally, workers should do the following:
- Adhere to all workplace safety rules.
- Exercise caution to avoid slipping or tripping when walking.
- Correctly utilize recommended safety equipment.
- Report all safety hazards immediately.
- Use caution and follow all traffic signs when operating a forklift or other work vehicle.
- Use proper lifting techniques.
- Exercise and stretch regularly.
Contact an Alabama workers’ compensation attorney
Although the workers’ compensation process was designed to be accessible to injured workers, attorneys can provide legal expertise and protection to injured workers if they’re met with challenges. An attorney can make sure all procedures are followed and negotiate with your employer and their insurance company to ensure your rights are protected.
If you’ve suffered a whiplash injury at work, contact our local Birmingham workers’ compensation attorneys at Nomberg Law Firm. Our attorneys have extensive experience fighting for injured Alabama workers to get them the money they deserve. Let us handle the negotiations with your employer and their insurer so you can focus on healing.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.