People who have done physical work for decades and develop pain may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Typically, we see telecommunications workers who have lifted, bent, carried and climbed for years or healthcare workers who have constantly lifted or pushed patients. Some of these workers develop pain, which could appear at any time. Many people do not realize that they may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, even if they have not suffered a specific accident.
We recently represented someone who woke up at home with terrible back pain. She called our office to ask about possible disability benefits that she may be entitled to receive. After speaking with her and asking about her work history, we advised her to speak with her doctor about the role that her work activities may have played in causing her pain. She had spent over 40 years working as a telecommunications technician. Her job involved climbing ladders, bending, twisting, carrying, as well as lifting tools and equipment. While it was clear that she had other underlying factors regarding her pain, her doctor testified that her work activities were a “significant contributor” to the pain.
After reviewing the testimony of the claimant and the doctors, the Workers’ Compensation Law Judge determined that the claimant’s 40 years of physical work played a role in her back pain. As a result of the decision, the claimant is entitled to medical treatment for the back and weekly monetary benefits, if she cannot work as a result of the pain.
This case is a reminder that the law protects workers who have performed physical work and developed pain over the course of time. The law does not require a specific date of accident and someone who has a pre-existing condition can still be protected.