The back is your whole person, or at least it usually affects your whole person.  It is quite the important body part by my logic, and the law in South Carolina generally agrees.  Your back is not quite just an arm or a hand or a finger.  It can affect your whole body, change your entire life.  Back injuries often come with claims for injuries to other parts of the body or may develop into claims for additional parts of the body, but a back injury claim alone is significant and deserves protection and attention.

Why is the back sometimes referenced as the whole person in South Carolina workers’ compensation?

Your back is composed of three curvatures of the spine, starting at the top with the neck there is the cervical; the mid-part of the back is the thoracic; and the lower part of the back near your beltline is the lumbar.  The back is, of course, also composed of individual vertebrae, nerves, discs, and the spinal cord itself.  An injury to the spinal cord itself may qualify an injured worker as a complete or incomplete paraplegic or quadriplegic which would entitle an injured worker to lifetime medical benefits and payments.

At the end of an injured worker’s South Carolina workers’ compensation claim, the authorized treating physician(s) should complete a Form 14B assigning permanent restrictions, future recommended treatment, and an impairment rating for any injured and affected body parts.  It is here that the doctors, or the authorized treating physicians, will often assign a rating to the “whole person,” which when related solely to the back translates into the back under South Carolina workers’ compensation legal lingo.  This is critical when analyzing the value of an injured worker’s claim.

Why is it important that I obtain benefits under the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act for my injury to my neck or back on the job?

As we have discussed, your neck and back are particularly important parts of your body.  The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act generally agrees, assigning up to the maximum weeks available for any injured scheduled member at 500.  However, the maximum weeks available may be capped at 300 for injured workers not permanently and totally disabled.  For a purely neck or back injury, an injured worker must show at least a 51% disability to the back or “whole person” in order to qualify for benefits under the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act as being permanently and totally disabled.

Failure to timely comply with notice and filing requirements may prejudice your rights, such that you forever lose your rights related to your serious neck or back injury and the benefits available under the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act.

What effects might I anticipate during recuperation from a neck or back injury, such as treatment and injuries to other body parts?

As a result of an on-the-job injury to the neck or back, workers’ compensation claimants often have symptoms of localized neck or back pain, stiffness, radiating pain from the neck to the shoulders and/or arms, decreased range of movement, muscle weakness or paralysis of the arms or legs, and tenderness, swelling, and bruising.  Oftentimes, it is necessary that injured workers receiving treatment from pain, sometimes from a specific pain management doctor, during and after recuperation.  Because injures to the neck and back can ultimately result in movement and posture changes, it can negatively affect another area of the body that is seemingly unrelated.