Workers Compensation Claim: Back Injury

80 percent of all adults will suffer a back injury during their lifetime. In Virginia, 13 percent of all injuries recorded with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission are low back injuries. More broadly, more than 38 percent of all injuries to the musculoskeletal system work related back injuries.  Many of these injuries result in workers comp back injury settlements.

Job related back injuries cause huge challenges to the injury victim and can be life changing. The injured worker can miss time from work and may never return to full duty or to their pre-injury job. Read further for the do’s and don’ts of workers comp back injury settlements.

Injury Settlement: Back Injury

Common back injuries that often result in a workers compensation settlement include:

  • Lumbar sprains and strains
  • Bulging and herniated discs
  • Injury that causes sciatica
  • Injury that causes degenerative disc disease
  • Injury that causes lumbar radiculopathy
  • Spinal fracture
  • Failed Back Syndrome
  • SI Joint Injury

Nurse with back pain from workers comp injury

Workers Compensation: Sudden Onset Versus Repetitive Motion

It is important to note here that to be eligible for workers compensation benefits, a back injury must have occurred at a specific time (sudden onset) rather than over a period of time. For example, the back injury can’t be from repetitively lifting boxes over the course of a day. Rather the back injury has to be accompanied by a sudden onset of pain. If your back injury was caused by repetitive motion rather than a sudden onset, you may have a difficult time getting workers compensation benefits or an injury settlement.

Sometimes, injured workers engage in repetitive motion activities, like lifting, over a period of time with no issues. Then, the minute they change postural positions, or make another movement, they feel a sudden pain in their back. We see this frequently with our clients who are certified nursing assistants. Many times, CNAs will lift patients throughout the day with no problems, but then feel pain when they try to make up a bed. This would be a sudden onset of a back injury and could possibly entitle injured workers to workers compensation benefits.

Important Tips for Back Injury Sufferers: Virginia Workers Compensation

If you suffer a back injury at work, it’s important for you to pinpoint exactly when (at what time), the area of the body, and the specific body motion you were engaged in when you felt the pain. You will need to be very specific about this information if you suffer a workers compensation back injury.

Often, medical providers who treat a workers compensation back injury will first use conservative medical treatment, such as physical therapy, radiology/imaging to ensure there isn’t a more serious back injury, and medications such as muscle relaxers.

Many of our firm’s clients had a pre-existing back injury before their most recent work injury. A pre-existing back injury won’t prevent you from receiving workers compensation benefits or getting an injury settlement.

construction worker with back pain

Average Workers Comp Settlement: Back Injury

It is important to remember than an employer in Virginia doesn’t have to offer or agree to settle a workers compensation claim. For this reason, we have listed an average settlement range beginning with $0 to reflect the possibility that the insurance company may refuse to make a workers compensation settlement offer on certain cases.

Low back injury average workers comp settlement – from $0 to $500,000 or more depending on whether surgery is required or a career change is necessary.

Upper back injury average settlement — Often, upper back injuries heal faster and require less treatment (or more conservative treatment) than lower back injuries. Most upper back injuries do not require surgery. As a result, an injury settlement for an upper back injury is often lower and can range from $0 to $150,000 or more, depending on the type of treatment needed and the ability to return to work.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has researched labor statistics and indicated that the average cost to an insurance company for a workers compensation claim involving a back injury (upper or lower) is between $40,000 and $80,000 per employer.

Workers Compensation Settlement: Back Injury

So, what factors affect the amount injured workers might receive in a workers compensation settlement for a back injury? How does an injured worker know what is a fair workers compensation settlement? Here are several factors that may play a role in that determination:

  • Is there medical evidence to prove that a work accident caused your back injury?
  • Has the insurance company accepted your workers compensation claim and is there an Award from the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission?
  • Did you suffer a severe back injury? Is it a soft tissue injury that will resolve with physical therapy? Or, is it a more serious injury claim (such as spinal cord injuries) that will require significantly more treatment, such as surgery, and will involve a substantial amount of lost wages? Severe back injuries may also involve a permanent disability involving the injured workers’ legs, which may make the value of any possible lump sum settlement higher.
  • Have you reached maximum medical improvement? If not, you may incur more future medical costs and lost wages. If it is anticipated that you will incur a substantial amount of additional medical bills, this should be considered when the insurance company and your workers compensation lawyer are determining an amount for workers compensation settlements.
  • Do you have any unpaid medical bills related to your workers comp back injury? If so, any back injury settlement should require that the insurance company pay those medical treatment costs.
  • How much was your average weekly wage before the back injury claim? Your earnings before your workers compensation injury determine what your workers compensation claim benefits will be and, ultimately, help to determine how much compensation you may be entitled to in an injury settlement.
  • Are you able to return to your pre injury job? If your job involved heavy labor, such as lifting and carrying, you may find that you aren’t able to return to that kind of work. As a result, you may experience loss of earnings and earning potential. You may be entitled to wage loss benefits and this could be factored into any workers compensation back injury settlement that you might receive.
  • How much did you incur in medical bills for your back injury? Did you go to physical therapy? How much did you receive in wage loss benefits? All of these factors play a role in the average workers comp settlement amount for back injuries.
  • Is your employer requiring you to resign from your job in exchange for a lump sum settlement? Workers compensation settlements requiring a resignation may potentially have more settlement value.
  • Does the workers compensation insurance company have any grounds to fight or defend your claim at a hearing? For instance is the insurance company arguing that the injury didn’t happen at work or that you violated a safety rule? If the workers compensation insurance company has a valid reason to fight your claim, that could affect the value of any possible injury settlement.

Back Injuries and Virginia Workers’ Compensation

Dealing with a back injury from work is a very complex part of an already confusing workers’ compensation system. Work related back injuries may affect the amount of any possible workers’ compensation settlement. If you suffered a back injury and are wondering if you may be entitled to a workers comp settlement, you will want to get some guidance from an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.

It takes an experienced workers compensation attorney who handles workers’ comp on a daily basis to know all the in’s and out’s to be able to get you everything you might be entitled to for your workplace accident.  A lawyer who handles a general practice or who only dabbles in workers’ compensation benefits is likely not going to have sufficient experience which comes from handling a large number of work injury cases on a daily basis. For example, it is unlikely that a general practice lawyer will know that you can’t get pain and suffering in Virginia workers’ comp. You need an experienced workers compensation attorney to ensure you receive the highest value for your workers comp claim.

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Your Virginia Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Team

If you’ve been involved in a workplace accident, our workers’ comp team at the Ritchie Law Firm is happy to sit down with you and talk with you to see if your workers’ compensation benefits claim needs to have an attorney involved.  It doesn’t cost anything to talk with us about your permanent disability claim. We have a wealth of information and resources available to us, and we’re always happy to share.  Give us a call today at 800-277-6124 for your NO STRINGS ATTACHED conversation with our workers’ compensation lawyers.

We handle Virginia Workers’ Compensation cases out of our offices in Harrisonburg, Winchester, Charlottesville, and Staunton, Va.  Or, if you just want to test the waters first, get some more information by filling out the form below.  We look forward to working with you.

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