A herniated disc is a painful and often temporarily debilitating back injury that is common in some occupations. Any job that requires you to bend, lift or twist repeatedly could cause a disc in your spinal cord to herniate, or move from its usual spot. Whether a herniated disc is a new injury or an aggravation of a preexisting back injury, you could be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in Montana. The state’s workers’ compensation system covers herniated discs that occur at work, in most situations.
The spinal cord contains multiple discs made of rubbery substances that provide cushions between each vertebra. Spinal discs are soft on the inside and tougher on the outside. The discs and vertebrae stack together to make up the spinal cord. Traumatic injuries such as a car accident, repetitive motion injuries and natural disc degeneration can cause disc herniation. If a disc in the spine herniates, its rubbery filling pushes through a tear in its harder exterior. A herniated or ruptured disc may not cause any symptoms at all, or it could be significantly painful for the victim.
A herniated disc may be preventable with exercises that can strengthen the back and spine. Good posture and keeping a healthy weight could also prevent ruptured discs and other back problems. At work, wearing a back brace when lifting or bending could protect the spine from herniated disc injuries. If you do suffer what feels like a herniated disc or pulled muscle at work, report it to your employer and then see a doctor. You may be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits for your injury.
It will take one or more doctor’s visits to diagnose a herniated disc. A physician may conduct a physical exam to check your muscle strength and reflexes. You may then require imaging tests to confirm it is a herniated disc and not a different back problem, such as an infection or tumor. The diagnosis for your back injury alone could cost thousands of dollars in medical bills. Your treatment could add significant additional costs.
Physicians often recommend bed rest on top of other treatments to heal a herniated disc. You could miss days or weeks from work while your back injury mends. This could cost you thousands in lost wages and earning opportunities. A workers’ compensation award could reimburse you not only for your related medical expenses but also two-thirds of your lost wages in Montana. You could also receive compensation for your travel expenses, lodging, meals, vocational rehabilitation and related disability expenses.
The combined costs of a herniated disc can amount to $10,000 or more in medical bills and lost wages. Employees who file workers’ compensation claims for back injuries receive an average of $24,000 in Montana. This amount serves to cover the victim’s past and future medical expenses, including any money the worker may spend on home or vehicle modifications for a temporary disability. It can also cover most of the employee’s lost income.
Your claim could be worthless or more than the average settlement depending on the circumstances. A mild case may be worth a smaller amount, while a serious herniated disc that requires back surgery could be worth more. The duration the injury puts you out of work can influence your benefits award. Speak to a Montana spinal cord injury attorney for an estimate of what your workers’ comp claim could be worth. Hiring a lawyer to handle your claim for you could maximize its value.