We hear it often. You’re a Police Officer. And you have a sore back.
It’s definitely not uncommon. The heavy nature of the work Police Officers do can cause injuries to many body parts, not least of all, your lower back (lumbar spine). Rolling, wrestling, bending, twisting, lifting and falling can form part of your duties on a daily basis. On top of that, you are required to undertake physically arduous training which can cause injury to your lower back.
However, the most common way that Police Officers tell us that their lower back injury occurred, is by wearing their appointment belt. The belt is heavy, tight and must be worn at all times. This can cause alterations to your walking gait. You might be in General Duties and need to wear the belt whilst seated in the truck. You might be in Highway Patrol and need to wear the belt whilst driving around in the Highway Patrol vehicle. You might be working in a role, such as a Detective or Domestic Violence Liaison Officer, where you are often sitting at your desk but you are still required to wear your belt at all times. Sitting in this way, in a twisted position to accommodate your service revolver and other appointments, can cause alterations to your posture. It is these alterations to your walking gait and posture that can lead to symptoms in your lower back.
This type of lower back injury often starts gradually. However, over many years of wearing your heavy appointment belt and sitting in twisted and awkward positions whilst doing so, that niggle in your lower back can turn into a constant ache, soreness, or even sciatic pain travelling down into one or both legs. There hasn’t necessarily been one specific incident that has caused your lower back injury, rather a range of incidents, including the requirement to wear your appointment belt over the course of your employment with the Police, that has caused the issues in your lower back.
So, what can you do about it?
First things first – if you are still employed by the Police, lodge a P902. You can note that your appointment belt has resulted in pain, stiffness and restriction of movement in your lower back. If you experience a flare up of your lower back pain, lodge another P902. Lodge as many as you need – having a record of your injury is always best.
If your claims are accepted by the Police’s Workers Compensation Insurer, you might like to ask them to pay for physiotherapy or other treatment to see if that alleviates your symptoms.
If you have ongoing symptoms that conservative treatment won’t fix, you can bring a claim for Whole Person Impairment (“WPI”) compensation. You can bring a claim even if you are still employed by the Police. As we would be bringing your WPI claim against the Workers Compensation Insurer, and liaising with them and / or their Solicitor, it is not uncommon that your colleagues and supervisors within the Police won’t even be aware of your claim. You can bring a claim, be paid compensation, and still keep working – it should not affect your employment at all.
If you have left the Police for another reason – perhaps you have resigned, or been medically discharged due to a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”), you can still bring a WPI claim if you are suffering from lower back symptoms. This is the case even if you never lodged a P902. Most Doctors, and the Workers Compensation Insurer, understand that the nature of your work as a Police Officer, including wearing that appointment belt, can cause a lower back injury. We have brought many successful claims for Police Officers who never lodged a P902 notifying the Police of their lower back injury whilst they were still employed. These Police Officers have gone onto receive lump sum compensation and medical expenses for their lower back injury, for life.
Don’t suffer from back pain in silence. If you are still employed as a Police Officer, lodge a P902. If you are experiencing ongoing symptoms in your lower back – regardless of whether you are still employment by the Police or not – contact Bourke Legal and we will bring a WPI claim on your behalf. This is what we do, week in, week out. If you are suffering from an injury caused by your employment, you are entitled to be compensated for it. Let us help you – complete our Police Hurt on Duty Claim Checker today to provide us with some information about your circumstances and permit us to contact you directly.