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Average Workers’ Compensation Settlements by Body Part in 2024

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Derek Silva
Data Journalist and Content Lead
April 29, 2024  ·  3 min read
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Atticus offers free, high-quality workers' compensation advice to those injured at work. Our team of Stanford and Harvard trained lawyers has a combined 15+ years of legal experience, and help thousands of Americans get the benefits they deserve each year.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers across America reported 2.8 million work-related injury and illness cases in 2022 — a 7.5% increase from 2021.1 An increasing number of workers with a workplace injury will also qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. If you find yourself navigating a work injury in 2024, here’s how much you could get from a workers’ comp settlement.


What’s the average workers’ compensation settlement?

Nationwide, the average workers’ comp settlement is $41,757, according to data released in 2023 by the National Safety Council (NSC).2

However, your final settlement amount will vary based on factors like the severity of your injury, what type of work you do, and the cost of medical care in your area. Each state also sets its own workers’ comp pay rates, which impacts the value of settlements.

Average workers’ comp settlements by body part

Click on a body part in the tool below to learn more about average settlements for different injuries.

Related article: The Average Settlement for Multiple-Injury Claims


Factors that affect your settlement

Workers’ comp settlements are calculated according to multiple factors. The insurance company will account for these factors when offering you a settlement, but the insurance is ultimately trying to pay you as little as possible.

To ensure you don’t leave money on the table, we suggest talking to a local workers’ compensation lawyer. They’re trained in your state’s laws and will know how to weigh all the variables affecting your case so that you negotiate a fair settlement.

Examples of factors that affect your final settlement include:

  • The severity of your injury: Are you experiencing partial or total loss of use? Have you received an impairment rating or disability rating? Is it accurate?

  • The body parts you injured: Each state sets its own “values” for different body parts and injury types. The value for multiple injuries may also require more complex math.

  • How your injury will affect future work: Even if you recover fully, does this injury affect how well you can carry out your typical job duties? How could it affect your ability to change jobs?

  • Estimates of lost future income: Will this injury affect how much work you can do in the future?

  • Possible future symptoms: Are complications common during recovery from your injury? Could future symptoms affect your ability to do job duties or daily tasks?

  • The cost of future medical care: What medical expenses are common for people with the same type of injury?

  • Eligibility for other types of benefits: How do other programs affect the amount you could receive in benefits for this injury? Are you eligible for unemployment insurance, permanent disability benefits, or Social Security disability?

  • Benefits insurance hasn’t paid: Has workers’ comp insurance fully paid your medical bills and lost wages to date? If not, do they need to pay any late fees or interest for missed payments?

  • Miscellaneous costs: Will you need to pay for retraining or new certifications? Will you need to move or travel farther to access different types of jobs?


The average workers' comp settlement for surgery cases

Having surgery can greatly affect the value of your settlement, but it doesn’t guarantee a higher settlement.

If you experience complications, have a long recovery, or the procedure doesn’t fully alleviate symptoms, your payout could increase. Your state may also consider certain medical procedures as being worth more because of how they’ll affect your ability to work. For example, recovering from spinal fusion is likely more complicated and less predictable than recovering from a knee or hip replacement.

On the other hand, if your surgery leads to a quicker or fuller recovery, it could reduce your payout or remove the possibility of a settlement altogether.

Ultimately, it’s important that you carefully weigh the pros and cons and make the best choice for your health and well-being. Learn more about how surgery impacts your settlement.


Do all workers’ comp claims end with a settlement?

No, you won’t automatically receive a settlement just by filing a workers’ comp claim. Most workers will get temporary workers’ comp benefits until they recover or reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). Temporary benefits pay weekly at a rate of two-thirds (66.7%) of your average weekly wage, in most states.

Then you may transition to long-term (also called permanent) benefits. Those may pay at the same rate as temporary benefits or less depending on where you live. How long they last depends on your specific injury and its severity.

Here’s how much workers’ comp pays in every state.


How do I know if my case will end with a settlement?

Your case is more likely to end in a settlement if your injury will require months or years of benefits payments. Insurance is trying to limit how much money it spends, so companies often propose a lump-sum settlement as a way to avoid long-term, ongoing payments. Conditions with hard-to-predict recoveries could also lead the insurer to offer a deal sooner.

But while you can negotiate a settlement offer at any time, insurance is most likely to offer one if you reach maximum medical improvement and you either haven’t fully recovered or will need permanent workers’ comp benefits.

Read more about when workers’ comp offers a settlement.


The best way to get a fair settlement

Even if you get a settlement offer that seems substantial, it likely isn’t an adequate amount for your case. Insurance companies have their own lawyers who work to calculate the lowest possible settlement.

Having your own workers’ comp lawyer is the best way to get a fair settlement. A local lawyer is experienced in weighing the many factors that go into determining a reasonable payout. They can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and recommend other benefits or programs you may be eligible for.

That experience is one reason that the average settlement for Atticus clients is double the average amount for workers who settle without a lawyer.

To connect with a local lawyer, start by filling out our 3-minute workers’ comp quiz. Our team will reach out to learn more about your situation and answer your questions. It’s always up to you whether you work with an Atticus lawyer, there are no upfront fees, and you won’t pay anyone a cent until after you receive a settlement.

Get workers' comp help today.

Frequently asked questions about workers’ comp settlements

Do all workers’ comp cases end in a settlement?

Not all workers’ comp cases end in a settlement, but many do. Claims that will continue after you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) may especially lead to a settlement. Injuries with short recovery times are less likely to result in a settlement, but you can still request one.

Should I accept a workers’ comp settlement?

We recommend getting a lawyer’s opinion before you make any decision related to a workers’ comp settlement. It’s important that you negotiate enough to cover your current and future medical expenses, plus enough to cover your other bills when you’re out of work. Knowing how much to ask for and how to negotiate for the highest amount are things a lawyer can help you with.

Which body part has the highest value in a workers' comp claim?

Head, spine, and central nervous system injuries have the highest average workers' comp payouts, but your exact injury makes a big difference. For example, an eye injury that keeps you out work for a week but heals fully won't be worth as much as an eye injury that results in blindness. Try our workers' comp body part selector tool for more on average settlements.

How much does workers’ comp pay if I don’t settle?

People on workers’ comp receive payments equal to a percentage of the wages they earned before their injury (usually two-thirds). Here’s how much workers’ comp pays by state.

How long after a workers’ comp settlement do I get paid?

You should plan to wait at least one to three months after a settlement before you actually get your payment, but that timeline depends on multiple factors. Your lawyer or the insurance company will have a more specific answer for your settlement.

Does surgery increase a workers' comp settlement?

It depends. Surgery could decrease or increase your potential settlement depending on how much it improves your symptoms and whether you experience complications. You can learn more in our breakdown of surgery and workers’ comp settlements.

Are workers’ comp settlements taxable?

No, workers’ comp settlements aren’t taxable. Other workers’ comp benefits aren’t taxable either, with rare exceptions.

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Related resources:

How Much a Workers' Comp Lawyer Costs

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By Victoria Muñoz

5 Common Questions About Workers' Comp Lawyers

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By Victoria Muñoz

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How long ago did you get an injury or illness at work?

References

  1. 1.
    Bureau of Labor Statistics, Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities,” U.S. Department of Labor, accessed January 26, 2024, https://www.bls.gov/iif/.
  2. 2.
    Workers’ Compensation Costs,” National Safety Council, accessed April 30, 2024, https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/work/costs/workers-compensation-costs/.
Photo of Derek Silva — Atticus Author

Derek Silva

Data Journalist and Content Lead

Derek is a writer and editor who has spent years covering disability benefits, taxes, and personal finances. He loves using data to tell stories, with his work being covered by Yahoo Finance, MSN, Business Insider, and CNBC, among others. Derek has previously worked for SmartAsset and Policygenius.
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