What if I hurt my neck or back and I can’t work again?

In Wisconsin, if you injure your neck or back and cannot keep working you may be able to make a claim for future lost earnings. In Wisconsin, injuries to the neck, back, head or torso are referred to as "unscheduled injuries." Unscheduled injuries are the only injuries where you can make a claim for lost future wages if you can't go back to work.

If you injure your neck or back you might need to miss some work or work a light duty job in order to give your body a chance to heal. If you are taken off of work by your doctor the worker's compensation insurance company for your employer is supposed to pay you 2/3 (this is non-taxable) of your wages while you are off. (You need a work excuse from your doctor at all times to qualify for this benefit.)

If you only miss a few hours per day, or are working a light duty job that pays you less money, the insurance company should pay you for 2/3 of the time that you are not working or 2/3 of your lost wages. The amount they owe you for lost time is based on the average of your wages in the year before your injury. This is not always a straightforward calculation if you work regular overtime hours but there are ways to double check if the insurance company is paying you the correct amount.

If you injure your neck or back you will probably need medical treatment to get better. If your injury is work related, the insurance company should pay for the medical treatment you get. When your claim is opened, find out the claim number and the insurance information and give this information to your medical providers so they send the bills to the worker's compensation insurance and not to your private medical insurance.

Medical treatment for a neck or back injury could be as simple as some physical therapy and a few injections, or it might include MRI's and even surgery. In all cases, eventually your doctor will decide that you have reached a healing point. The healing point is the point in your case where the doctor thinks you have reached a plateau and you are not going to get any better. At this point the doctor will be able to tell if you have a permanent injury or not. You are entitled to compensation if you have a permanent injury. This benefit is for permanent partial disability and your doctor will usually assign this to you in the form of a percentage. At the healing point your doctor might also give you permanent restrictions. He or she will give you permanent restrictions to keep you from reinjuring yourself.

Having permanent restrictions is good for you so you can avoid getting hurt again but sometimes it means you can't continue to do your job. If you have given your permanent restrictions to your employer and they can't accept you back at work because of the restrictions, you might have a hard time finding other work as well with the restrictions.

You might have a claim for loss of earnings in the future because your restrictions now keep you from going back to your old job and also keep you from finding new work that pays you what you are used to making. If you are taken back to work and are given a job within your restrictions and then later your position is eliminated or the employer goes out of business, you might have a claim for loss of earnings in this situation as well.

If you have had a neck or back injury it is a good idea to talk to a lawyer about it to see what claims you can make. Most times the insurance company will not tell you about all of your rights to make claims and if you don't talk to a lawyer you might miss out.

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