Pasadena Workers’ Compensation Attorney | Back Injury Settlement
Statistically speaking, repetitive stress injuries are one of the most common causes of workers’ comp back injury settlements. Much of the time these are caused by physical labor due to daily duties. The majority of those who filed claims for back injuries, found themselves entitled to at least some compensation. In fact, 3 out of every 4 workers who filed a workers’ comp claim for their back injuries were awarded a settlement by their employer’s insurance company or by a judge for their back injury.
The final quarter either may not have sustained a sufficient enough injury to warrant a settlement, or did could not prove that they were injured on the job or because of the job.
Who Is at Risk of Suffering a Back Injury at Work?
Although anyone can be injured on the job, some occupations pose greater risks than others of causing back injuries:
- Commercial truck drivers
- Construction workers and other laborers
- People who move materials and stock
- Nursing aides and assistants
- People who clean professionally, including janitors
- Workers who repair and maintain buildings
Regardless of your occupation, you could end up sustaining a back injury if your job involves such activities as carrying and lifting, moving products, stocking shelves, ending frequently, squatting, kneeling, crawling, twisting, using a shovel or broom, operating heavy machinery, or driving a car or truck.
These tasks put stress on your back and can result in repetitive injuries. If you think you suffered a back injury, you may be eligible for a workers’ comp back injury settlement.
Common Back Injuries
The most common back injuries at work include lumbar strains and sprains. Soft tissues in the back, such as ligaments and muscles, can become easily damaged by unnatural motions and force. These back strains are often classified by severity from Grade 1 through Grade 3, the most severe.
Ruptured or herniated disks are also common. Disks are the soft shock absorbers that sit between your vertebrae. A wrong movement can result in damage, which is classified from Grade A through Grade C.
Degenerative disc disease is common in anyone over 30; however it can be aggravated or become osteoarthritis due to repetitive damage to the back. Degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis is often classified as a pre-existing condition; however, you may be able to prevail with a claim if you prove aggravation.
What Determines the Value of a Workers’ Comp Back Injury Settlement Claim?
It’s very difficult to predict what a workers’ comp back injury settlement claim will be worth. There are a number of factors that dictate how much the California Workers’ Compensation Commission will award a worker if the employer’s insurance company does not agree to a settlement. These include the following:
- Cause of the injury
- The severity of the back injury
- Characteristics of the injury
- The amount of medical treatment you will need
- Future treatments that may be required
- How much you earn on average in a week
Back Injury Settlements Vary Widely Depending on the Severity of the Injury
Back injuries range in severity. Individuals with relatively routine problems will not require extensive medical treatment. Meanwhile, some back injuries can require extensive surgeries, physical therapy, and pain management medications. While it’s true that the average amount for a workers’ comp back injury settlement is around $23,000, that number is heavily skewed by major injuries. The majority of settlements will be for less than $20,000. Only one out of every 10 claims will be for more than $60,000.
Back Injuries and Disability Benefits
If your back injury is permanent, you don’t necessarily have to be disabled for you to be eligible to receive permanent partial disability (PPD). To determine settlement, the insurance company will take a disability rating, which is a percentage indicating the level of disability. Temporary disability will compensate you for loss of wages during a designated period of recovery. Unless the disability rating is less than 10%, it’s in your best interest to hire a workers’ compensation attorney to ensure that you obtain the highest settlement possible for your back injury. An attorney can help you avoid the trap of having your disability benefits benefits reduced.
How Long Do Back Injury Claims Take to Settle?
Workers’ comp back injury settlements take much longer to process, typically, than do other kinds of claims. The average time it takes to settle such a claim is a year and a half. That’s because your claim will not be settled until your treatment is either completed or has reached an impasse. In other words, doctors can no longer do anything to resolve the issue, so their treatment has gone into maintenance mode. It sometimes takes years for a back injury claim to settle.
Why Are Workers’ Comp Back Injury Settlement Claims Denied?
Insurance companies are looking for reasons to deny your claim. For back injuries, 6 out of every 10 claims that were eventually paid out were denied on the first petition. So bear in mind that a denial from an insurance company is essentially meaningless. That’s where a workers’ compensation attorney comes into play.
After an initial denial, an employee would be forced to file an appeal or request a hearing.
Common Reasons for Denying a Back Injury Claim
Workers comp’ back injury settlements are commonly denied because the insurance company claim that the worker had a pre-existing condition. The insurance company might simply want to say that the worker is old and that’s why they injured their back. They might also blame it on an old injury. With the help of a lawyer, you can either convince the insurance company that they unfairly denied your claim or appeal the decision with California Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Other common reasons that insurance companies will deny an initial claim:
- The worker filed the workers’ comp claim late.
- The worker’s injury is not severe enough to require immediate treatment.
- The insurance company claims the injury occurred off-site or outside of work.
- Insurance company claims you fabricated the injury.
In some instances, claims denied by insurance companies are valid. But insurance companies operate for profit. They are certainly not there to help workers receive compensation whether they deserve it or not. It’s important to realize this and be patient with the process.
What to Do If Your Claim Is Denied
In more than half the cases in which a workers’ comp claim is denied, the worker needed to request a hearing with the California Workers’ Compensation Commission. In other instances, the insurance company reviewed the information that was provided by your lawyer and determined there was sufficient evidence to reverse their decision. Rest assured, the insurance company is not going to go out of its way to validate your claim. They’ll be doing just the opposite.
If the case goes before the California Workers’ Compensation Commission, then it will be up to them to determine whether your claim is valid. A workers’ comp attorney can help you make that claim.
A Pasadena Workers’ Comp Attorney Can Help You Make Your Case
At the Law Office of Stephen Dewberry, we know how to help our clients get the workers’ compensation that they deserve. If you have questions about your workers’ comp back injury settlement case, contact us for a consultation today.