Herniated Disc Workers’ Compensation Settlements In Virginia
Have you suffered a spinal disc injury due to your job? It can be an extremely difficult burden, as you face costly treatments and possibly surgery, as well as lost income incurred from missing work. The pain from your back injury can also affect your daily life and diminish your ability to earn in the future.
Virginia law provides workers’ compensation for on-the-job injuries such as a herniated disk, but in real life, obtaining the amount you need and deserve is challenging. You could be facing an established insurance carrier that is well-prepared to dispute your claim. You may need the help of an attorney to pursue your rightful compensation. We at Slominski Law understand the intricacies of an actual workers’ comp claim. Talk to us to see how we can help you.
What Is A Herniated Disc? How Does It Occur At Work?
The human spine is made up of stacked bones called vertebrae, and in between these bones are ‘cushions’ called spinal discs. Each spinal disc is like a jelly donut filled with a soft, gel-like material inside a rubbery cartilage exterior.
When the spine takes too much force or is worked to its limit, a spinal disc could tear and push out its inner material – in medical terms, it could herniate. This is why a herniated disk is also commonly called a ruptured disk or a slipped disk. As the soft material is pushed out of the disc, it can interfere with surrounding nerves, causing pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness on certain body parts such as the arms and legs.
Disc herniation is most often an aging problem, as the spinal discs become more prone to injury after years of wear-and-tear. Another major risk factor, however, is one’s occupation. According to the Mayo Clinic, people who have physically demanding jobs have greater risk of back problems like this.
Some of the jobs where slipped discs are common include:
- Construction workers
- Warehouse workers
- Hospital workers such as nurses and orderlies
- Cargo movers.
I Have Bulging Disc, Not A Herniated Disc. Could I Still Be Compensated?
Yes, a bulging disc is a compensable spine injury. A workers’ comp insurance company may prefer to characterize your condition as a “bulging disc” instead of a herniated disc because the former sounds less threatening. But a bulging disc can cause nerve problems as much as a herniated disk does.
The main difference between the two is that a bulging disk does not involve the leaking of inner material through a tear. It protrudes or sticks out beyond its regular circumference. On a normal spine, the spinal discs match the size of the vertebrae so they all align perfectly. But when the spine is overworked, any of the spinal discs can bulge out between the bones, like a hamburger patty that’s too wide for its buns.
Even when a spinal disc bulges only a quarter more than its normal circumference, it can still impinge or irritate nerve roots. This condition may require a combination of treatments such as pain medication, anti-inflammatory injections, and physical therapy.
How Much Could I Get For Herniated Disc Workers’ Comp Settlement?
A nationwide survey by Lawyers.com found that the average workers’ compensation settlement for back injury is $23,600. This is the average – the actual amount you could receive in your claim could vary widely depending on the specific facts of your injury. For instance, if you had to spend as much as $50,000 on a herniated disc surgery, this will be factored into your settlement.
In addition, your workers’ comp may also cover your lost income. In Virginia, you may receive a weekly amount based on the severity and duration of your injury-related disability. For example, if your herniated disc caused a temporary partial disability, your benefits would be two-thirds of the difference between your earnings pre-injury and your earnings post-injury. Let’s say you were earning $1,000 before injury, then $700 after injury. The difference is $300, and two-thirds of that is $200 – that’s your weekly benefits rate.
Of course, it is important to consult a workers’ compensation lawyer to determine the maximum damages you could be compensated for.
Protect Yourself From A Workers’ Compensation Denial
Despite the law affording workers’ compensation to injured Virginia employees, many find it difficult to receive their just settlement. Insurance companies may minimize or outright deny the amount they have to pay, leaving injured workers grappling after their accident.
These are only some of the common defense tactics that you may encounter in your compensation claim:
- The insurance carrier may point out that you have a pre-existing condition on your back or neck, concluding that your current back pains have nothing to do with your work accident.
- The insurer may label your condition as something less severe. For example, they may assert that you only have a lumbar strain instead of a herniated disk. They may even offer you a smaller settlement for this less-severe condition, then deny your claim for your real injury.
- There are deadlines in reporting your injury and filing your workers’ comp claim. If you miss these deadlines, your claim could be invalid. Many workers have lost their claim because they were not completely aware of the timelines involved.
The best advice is to have a workers’ compensation lawyer on your side – a legal professional who has in-depth experience dealing with insurance companies on behalf of workers. Your attorney can help you avoid making costly mistakes in your claim, and more importantly, negotiate effectively for you to receive the best settlement possible.
Call Slominski Law
Attorney Jaleh K. Slominski has been an ally of Virginian workers since 1991. Reach out to her about your herniated disc workers’ comp claim. Your initial consultation with our firm is absolutely free. Call our Lynchburg office at (434) 384-9400, or our Roanoke office at (540) 554-3762.