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Study: Focus on Back Injuries and Workers' Comp Settlements

If further evidence was ever required that diligent representation and a strong focus on maximum recovery are absolutely essential in a workers' compensation case -- especially one involving an on-the-job back injury -- researchers at Saint Louis University have just provided it.

Raymond Tait, Ph.D. and professor of psychiatry at that university's medical school, is the lead author of a just-concluded study that appears in this month's issue of Spine Magazine. He prefaces the study's material findings by stating this: "The current mechanisms that inform the administration of workers' compensation systems clearly merit further attention."

That observation is based on what Tait's research team discovered after delving into nearly 1,500 workers' comp files in court records from across Missouri, all involving back injuries. The team focused on a 10-year period spanning five years prior to claim settlement and five years following.

The central finding: Previous research took an overly short-term view of outcomes for those who had received settlements. Over a longer period of time, many workers who receive workers' comp settlements for back injuries get progressively worse and often experience increasingly difficult economic circumstances. Records show this to be particularly true for African-Americans and workers under the age of 35.

Researchers say that the findings "suggest that financial duress will likely continue beyond the time frame of this study."

In light of those conclusions, and the likelihood that many back-injury victims who received workers' comp settlements and can no longer work will continue to experience pain-related symptoms and face economic challenges post-settlement, the importance of securing an experienced workers' comp attorney to maximize recovery can hardly be overstated.

Related Resource: Health Canal, "Woes Worsen after Settlements for Back Injuries" Aug. 8, 2011

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