What Is The Average Workers’ Comp Settlement For A Back Injury In VA?
Injuries to the back or the spine are very common, especially among hardworking employees. Common workplace movements such as lifting and carrying objects, stocking shelves, pushing equipment, and squatting can lead to back injuries.
What makes a back injury particularly difficult to deal with is that you may experience its symptoms or consequences for many years, even for life. You may have to deal not just with an expensive one-time treatment but also with long-term remedies and reduced productivity.
If you injured your back while working, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under Virginia law. How much workers’ comp settlement would you receive for your back injury? Looking at various reports, the average value of a back injury workers’ comp claim might range from $20,000 upwards. But the actual value of your case depends on its specific factors such as the severity of your injury, your related expenses, and how it affects and will affect your work.
Take a look at estimated costs of some common back injuries, and how you can compute your Virginia workers’ comp benefits.
Types And Costs Of Back Injuries
Herniated Disc/Ruptured Disc/Slipped Disc/Bulging Disc
Our backbone or spine is made up of smaller stacked bones (vertebrae), and between these bones are jelly-like cushions called spinal discs. A “herniated” spinal disc means that it has ruptured, with its “jelly” material slipping out. This is more likely to happen as you age because these discs degenerate over time, but it has been known that physically demanding jobs also increase the risk of this condition.
Symptoms of a slipped disc include pain, numbness, and weakness in the arms and legs. Most cases may be treated with medication and therapy, but some require herniated disc surgery, which ranges from $20,000 to $50,000.
Inside the human backbone is a tube called the spinal canal, within which the spinal cord is protected. Spinal stenosis is when this canal narrows, putting pressure on the nerves of the spinal cord inside. Typical symptoms of this condition are numbness and weakness in the arm, hand, leg, or foot, and these symptoms worsen over time.
Among the common causes of spinal stenosis are backbone injuries like herniated discs and spinal fractures. It’s important to treat the root cause of stenosis while managing the pain that it brings. Pain medication or steroid injections for this condition can cost up to $5,000 a year or more. Doctors may further recommend laminectomy, a surgery to remove the bony covering of the spinal cord.
This “shooting pain,” tingling, or numbness down the leg is typically an effect of another back injury like a herniated disc or spinal stenosis. This happens when the injury pinches the sciatic nerve, the long nerve that runs from the spinal cord through the hips and buttocks.
Over-the-counter prescription medicines can manage the pain of sciatica, but if these are not enough, physical therapy may be needed, at about $50 to $350 per session. In many cases, doctors also recommend epidural steroid injections, which can cost $1,000 to $5,000 per year. If sciatica does not improve after six weeks, your doctor may suggest surgery as an option.
Osteoarthritis Of The Spine (Degenerative Joint Disease)
This disease occurs when the cushioning cartilage on the tops of bones is worn down, producing pain, swelling, and weakness of limbs. Osteoarthritis of the spine is more likely to happen as you grow older, or if you have a job that puts stress on your backbone. However, it can also occur among young people who have sustained an injury on their back joints.
Spinal osteoarthritis may be remedied with home remedies, medication, and therapy, but in some cases, a surgical procedure like vertebral fusion or laminectomy may be necessary. Research has shown that on average, you may have to spend $11,502 every year for direct medical treatments of spine osteoarthritis.
Other back injuries that may be compensable for workers include spinal fractures, lumbar strains or sprains, and vertebral displacement (spondylolisthesis).
The costs described above are only estimates of medical expenses. Apart from these, you should consider your other economic losses such as your lost wages and your reduced capacity to work.
To fully and accurately estimate the maximum compensation you deserve for all your losses, consult with an attorney who is experienced in helping workers’ comp claimants.
How Workers’ Comp Is Computed In Virginia
Virginia workers’ compensation should cover not only your medical bills and other related expenses, but also your lost earnings. This is generally paid weekly, at a rate that’s 66.67 percent (two-thirds) of your average weekly wages. You can get only up to 500 weeks’ worth of payment, except in extreme cases.
A primary factor in calculating this compensation is how much your injury has disabled you. Here are basic guidelines:
- Temporary partial disability. This means you are able to work but earn less than normal because of your injury. Your benefits should be two-thirds of the difference between your earnings before injury and your earnings after injury. For example, you were earning $800 before injury, then $500 after injury. The difference is $300, and two-thirds of that is $200 – that’s your benefits rate.
You may receive your benefits until you’re able to earn your normal wages again, or you reach your maximum medical improvement, or you reach the 500-week cap.
- Temporary total disability. This means you miss more than seven days of work due to your injury. Your benefits should be two-thirds of your average weekly earnings until you reach the benefit cap.
- Permanent partial disability. This typically means that you have lost the use of a certain body part such as a hand or an arm. It’s tricky to establish this with just a back injury, but if you can show that your spinal condition has rendered your arm or leg unusable, you may be entitled to this benefit. Compensation is also two-thirds of your average weekly wages, but the number of weeks is predetermined by the Virginia Guide for Permanent Loss.
- Permanent total disability. This means that your injury permanently prevents you from working. Examples are total paralysis and severe brain injury. For this, you may be entitled to receive your temporary total rate every week for life.
As you can see, determining your maximum workers’ comp settlement can be difficult and confusing. In addition, you need to anticipate the methods that employers and insurers may use to reduce your case value. The best way to fight for your rightful compensation is by getting the help of a workers’ comp lawyer who is not only skilled but dedicated to helping genuine, hardworking people instead of companies.
Contact Slominski Law
Based in Lynchburg, VA, Slominski Law is dedicated to helping Virginians receive the benefits they are entitled for their injuries. Let’s talk about your work-related back injury. Your initial consultation with us is completely free. Call us today at (434) 384-9400 or reach us through our online contact form at Slominskilaw.com.