Each worker’s compensation injury payout depends greatly on the nature of the back injury suffered and the related case facts. There is no way to determine an average settlement that could help you understand the possibilities in your case. Instead, discuss your case with workers’ compensation lawyers who handle these cases regularly in your area.
Most workers’ comp firms represent clients with no upfront fees. You should not need to pay a retainer or any other money before they go to work on your case. This payment method may be essential for some injured workers who cannot return to their job but are not yet receiving workers’ compensation payments.
What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?
The laws that outline workers’ compensation vary widely by state. Most states require companies over a certain size to provide this type of insurance coverage for all employees. When a covered employee gets hurt at work, they file a workers’ comp claim and should receive benefits that include:
Medical Care Coverage
Workers’ compensation generally pays all workplace injury expenses directly. Employees should not receive a bill or need to pay for their care and be reimbursed. Instead, most policies require them to see approved doctors or go to pre-approved hospitals or clinics. The insurer works with these care providers to receive and pay bills for diagnosis, hospitalization, surgery, and other forms of treatment. They should also cover ambulance costs and related expenses.
Income Loss Benefits
Income loss benefits are what many people think of when they hear workers’ compensation. These benefits ensure injured workers have an income while out of work healing from their injuries. They pay a portion of the worker’s usual pay, up to a policy maximum each pay period.
Under some situations, you could receive partial income loss benefits if you can return to work on light duty or at a lower-paying position because of your injuries.
Your income loss benefits will depend greatly on your current salary or hourly pay. Applicable laws will determine how soon you receive these benefits, how often they get paid, and other details. These vary based on your state and policy.
Workers’ compensation pays death benefits to families whose loved ones died in a workplace accident. This compensation often includes a one-time cash payment and reasonable funeral and burial costs.
Many workers’ compensation policies pay additional benefits to help injured or ill workers rehabilitate and rejoin the workforce. They could include certain types of education, training, or therapy that help them learn new skills, remaster previous skills, or learn ways to adapt to new limitations.
What Issues Do Injured Workers Encounter When Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim?
Several common problems workers encounter with their workers’ compensation claims could lead to a dispute or denial, including:
- The insurer says you filed your claim late or missed key deadlines in your case.
- The company denies your injury occurred at work or is work-related.
- Your company says you are a contract worker or otherwise not covered by workers’ comp.
- The company accuses you of faking or exaggerating your injury.
- They approve your claim but miscalculate your benefits.
- There is a disagreement about your injuries and treatment between doctors.
- The insurance company offers you a settlement, but it seems too low.
In any of these circumstances, hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer might be the best option to protect your rights and help you secure the benefits or money you need. A workers’ comp attorney in your state can help you navigate the obstacles in your way to filing your claim, appealing a denial, or negotiating a settlement that fairly compensates you for your medical bills, ongoing limitations, and missed income.
You may run into these issues with your workers’ compensation claim before filing your claim, after a denial, or if you believe a settlement might be in your best interests. With that, you may want to have a lawyer review your case. Personal injury law firms that handle workers’ comp cases generally offer free initial consultations and do not charge upfront for their services.
When Is a Workers’ Comp Settlement Necessary?
Most workers’ compensation injuries are fairly minor, and the injured worker returns to work relatively quickly. In these cases, there is rarely a need for a workers’ compensation settlement. They receive their benefits when necessary and can return to their previous job.
When injuries are more serious and leave the worker with a permanent or temporary disability, it might be impossible for them to return to their previous job or the workforce at all. In these cases, it could be advantageous for everyone involved to negotiate a settlement instead of continuing to draw regular payments from their employer and the insurance company.
To this end, a workers’ compensation settlement is an agreement between the worker and their employer to close the case. Instead of continuing to receive payments, they agree to a one-time lump sum settlement to cover their medical bills and income losses. Both parties must agree that they want a settlement and negotiate the amount.
What Are the Pros and Cons of a Workers’ Comp Back Injury Settlement?
When you reach a settlement agreement on a workers’ compensation claim, you will sign a full and final release of liability before receiving the payout. This release prevents you from pursuing any additional damages in the case, even if there are related injuries you only learn about later.
At the same time, you never have to wait on a payment again. You receive the agreed-on amount in a lump sum payment. For many, this figure could be hundreds of thousands of dollars deposited at once. As long as you budget this money to ensure you can cover your necessary medical care and bills, you can spend it however you like.
How Can a Workers’ Comp Attorney Help Me Get a Settlement?
A workers’ compensation attorney is a great resource when it comes time to discuss workers’ comp settlements. They can help you weigh the pros and cons of a settlement and explain how it could affect your financial future. They may discuss the role of disability benefits and other options with you, as well.
They will also calculate what a fair settlement might look like and ensure you are seeking enough money to pay for your future care costs. After all, your treatment and monitoring will likely need to continue even after you settle your case. You want to ensure you have the cash to cover these expenses in addition to paying your missed income.
When you choose to hire a workers’ compensation law firm, you can count on the legal team to:
- Help you navigate the workers’ compensation claims process
- Fight a denial if necessary
- Ensure the company calculated your benefits correctly
- Answer your questions and address concerns
- Protect your rights
- Manage all communications about your case
- Help you understand if a settlement is recommended
- Calculate an estimated settlement value for your case
- Work for your best interests throughout this process
Because workers’ compensation attorneys typically work based on contingency fees, you should not need to pay anything up front for your lawyer to get started. They should not ask for a retainer or discuss hourly fees with you. Instead, they charge a portion of the settlement they recover for you.
You should expect honest, open communication about their fees before signing your contract. They should answer your questions and discuss the percentage they charge, explaining how this process works in language you understand.
Can I Sue a Third Party Based on My On-the-Job Back Injury?
Most states do not allow workers to sue their employers for on-the-job injuries, even if the employer’s negligence caused the accident. However, this does not mean injured workers cannot even pursue a civil case in addition to their workers’ compensation benefits. In fact, it is quite common.
It may be possible to sue a third party for their role in your injuries, like when someone who is not your employer or a co-worker causes your accident. For example, a vendor, property owner, driver, or contractor might be liable for your injuries. To hold them legally responsible, you will need to have compelling evidence to show that their carelessness or recklessness caused your accident.
This process requires investigating the incident and gathering evidence to show negligence occurred.
Negligence has four elements:
- The accused party owed the victim a duty of care.
- They breached this duty.
- Their breach was the proximate cause of the incident.
- The victim suffered physical, emotional, and financial harm.
For example, imagine you were hurt when a delivery driver from a local lumber yard hit you on a construction site. That driver had a duty to follow all safety precautions, drive carefully, and be on the lookout for workers. When they failed to do so, it led to your accident and back injuries.
Your documented damages include:
- Current and future medical treatment
- Income losses from time missed working
- Reduced ability to earn because of lasting disabilities
- Related expenses such as renovating your home and building ramps, traveling to see specialists, and undergoing rehabilitative therapies
- Pain and suffering losses
When you can show another party caused your accident and injuries, your state may allow you to hold them legally accountable and recover compensation.
How Long You Have to File a Third-Party Lawsuit
To learn more, you should consider speaking to a personal injury lawyer about your case. Often, workers’ comp attorneys also handle these cases. Your attorney can help you assess your options and determine your next steps. Any financial recovery in a personal injury case is in addition to your workers’ compensation benefits.
There are time limits for filing a lawsuit, though. Sometimes, they are quite short. Some states give victims up to three years to sue. However, many states offer only one year. It pays to speak to an attorney about this possibility as soon as your injuries allow.
Discuss Your On-the-Job Back Injury With a Workers’ Comp Attorney Today
Sometimes, the workers’ compensation claims process goes smoothly, and injured workers receive the benefits they deserve. They receive regular income loss payments until they can return to their previous position, and the insurance company takes care of their medical bills as expected. However, that is not always the case.
If you run into issues with your workers’ compensation claim, a lawyer familiar with these laws in your state is your best resource. A personal injury attorney may get your benefits started, appeal a denial, or negotiate a settlement for you, depending on the circumstances. You are not at the mercy of the workers’ comp insurance carrier or your employer.
Most that handle workers’ compensation cases provide free initial consultations for injured employees. You could speak to a team member about your options for free.