How Much Can I Expect on a Lower Back Injury from Worker's Comp at the Final Settlement with a Lawyer?

Written by James Hirby | Fact checked by The Law Dictionary staff |  

It's difficult to make any generalizations about worker's compensation payouts. The final settlement amount for a given claim is dependent upon a number of factors, including the injured worker's pre-injury earnings, his current post-injury earnings and his post-injury maximum potential earnings. The circumstances surrounding the initial injury also play a role.

While some worker's compensation cases may be straightforward and produce a settlement that all parties find suitable, others can remain tied up in negotiations for years. If you're injured on the job, it's important to remember that your worker's compensation settlement won't be your only post-injury source of income. If you're determined to be permanently unable to work, you'll receive Social Security disability benefits for an indefinite period of time. Independently of your worker's compensation claim, you may also receive a sizable ongoing payout from your former employer. If your injury involved gross negligence or misconduct on the part of your employer, the likelihood of this payout will increase further.

Several additional factors will determine the size and payout structure of your worker's compensation settlement. You'll have to submit to several physical examinations immediately following your injury. These will determine the extent of your initial injuries and provide an initial framework for your recovery. The physician who conducts your initial examination will make an educated judgment as to your prospects for recovery.

A slipped disc or cracked vertebra may prove to be treatable. A spinal cord injury or a combination of vertebral injuries may cause a longer-term medical condition. Whether your prospects for recovery are good, fair or poor, part of your worker's compensation settlement must be dedicated to covering the costs of your initial medical care. As long as you're judged not to be at fault for your injury, you should have little trouble securing these benefits.

After some time has passed and your treatments have had time to take effect, you'll be re-assessed by a qualified physician. Ideally, this exam will occur at the point of "maximal physical recovery." In other words, your condition is not expected to improve measurably after this "final" exam.

If you're determined to have sustained some permanent damage to your back, you'll receive a "partial disability" settlement equal to the extent of the damage. If your injury is determined to be so severe that you'll be unlikely to work again, you'll receive a "permanent disability" settlement that covers a portion of your expected future earnings.

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