How Much Is a Workers' Comp Eye Injury Settlement?
January 31, 2024 · 4 min read
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 18,510 Americans suffered an eye injury at work in 2020. They missed an average of three days of work, though more than 1,000 required at least a month before they could work again.1 If you injured your eye at work, you could receive workers’ compensation, which includes wage replacement payments and coverage for all necessary medical bills. You could also negotiate a substantial workers’ comp settlement depending on how severe your injury is and how long you’ll be out of work to recover.
How much is the average workers' comp eye injury settlement?
The average workers’ comp settlement for an injury to the face is $33,635, according to 2023 data from the National Safety Council (NSC). This includes a $15,200 indemnity payment from the insurance company and an additional $18,435 for medical care.2
While this average is a helpful point of reference, your personal payment could go much higher depending on the type of eye injury you have, how severe it is, and when you’ll be able to return to work (if ever). Eye injuries that result in blindness could be worth much more since they could impact your ability to ever do the same types of work again. Facial disfigurement and injuries to other parts of your face or the brain could also lead to a significantly higher payment. NSC data shows that head injuries have the potential to settle for almost $100,000.
You deserve a fair workers' comp settlement. Atticus can help.
Do all eye injuries qualify for workers’ comp?
Any eye injury can qualify if it was the result of doing your job and it leaves you unable to work for days or longer. It’s also a no-fault program, so you can get benefits even if you have an accident caused by your own mistake.
It’s also important that you report the injury to your employer quickly. Each state has a required deadline to notify your employer of a workplace injury. Missing that window could make it impossible for you to get benefits. Find your state’s reporting deadline here.
Unfortunately, you cannot qualify for workers’ comp if you’re an independent contractor, freelance worker, or gig worker. Federal employees also need to go through the Department of Labor and not through private insurance.
Any injury that causes eye pain, decreased vision, or loss of vision can qualify. You can also receive workers’ comp for eye injuries that affect multiple body parts, including their ears, lips, nose, or other parts of the head and face.
Many different eye injuries can qualify for workers’ comp, but these are a few of the most common:
Burns from steam, light, or radiation exposure
Injuries that cause bleeding from your eye
Punctures or penetration into your eye
Striking or scraping from foreign bodies, like a flying wood chip
When does workers’ comp offer a settlement for an eye injury?
An eye injury won’t always result in a workers’ comp settlement. If the insurance company wants to settle your claim, it will commonly make an offer once you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). That’s the point where further treatment won’t help you recover further. If you reach MMI and you don’t have full use of your eye or if it looks like you could require extensive medical care, the insurer may offer a settlement to avoid paying long-term benefits.
If you receive a settlement offer, you can generally respond in three ways:
Accept the offer.
Reject the offer and continue receiving benefits.
Negotiate for a larger settlement.
Each of these could be the right call under different circumstances. We recommend talking with a workers’ comp attorney to better understand your options. They’ll have a better sense of a fair payout based on your specific injury, what your job is, what medical care you could require, and the cost of living in your area. An attorney or lawyer (the two terms are mostly interchangeable) will also handle negotiations so you don’t need to worry about talking to the insurance company’s lawyers on your own.
How much does workers’ comp pay if I don’t settle?
If you don’t agree to settle, workers’ comp should continue to pay you for lost wages and medical bills related to your injury. In most areas that means payments worth up to two-thirds (66.67%) of your pre-injury average weekly wage. Payments may arrive weekly or every other week. Check how much workers’ comp pays in your area.
Payments usually last until you return to work, reach MMI, or agree to settle. In cases where you can’t return to work after MMI or you have a permanent disability, your workers’ comp doctor will give you a permanent impairment rating. That rating, ranging from zero to 100, is used to determine the value and length of your long-term workers’ comp benefits.
Do I need a workers’ comp lawyer?
No, you don’t need a workers’ comp lawyer, but it is much easier to manage the negotiation process with one. An experienced lawyer will have worked with similar cases and know how to effectively fight for a fair settlement. They’ll negotiate on your behalf, so you can avoid the stress of talking with the insurance company’s legal team on your own. Reputable workers’ comp lawyers don’t charge upfront, either. You can expect a free initial consultation and you won’t have to pay the lawyer’s fee until after you win your settlement.
The average workers’ comp settlement for an eye injury is about $33,600 nationally, but you could get much more or less depending on your situation. If you want to maximize your settlement, contact an Atticus workers’ comp attorney. Settlements with our attorneys are twice as high as claims without an attorney, on average.
Should I accept a workers’ comp settlement?
It depends on your personal situation. Negotiating is best in many cases, but we recommend getting a lawyer’s opinion before you make any decision. They can help you negotiate enough to cover your current and future medical expenses, lost wages, and other bills while you’re out of work.
Will eye surgery increase my workers’ comp settlement?
It depends. Eye surgery could certainly increase your potential settlement if you have complications or need longer to recover. But it could decrease your potential settlement if it greatly improves your symptoms or recovery time. Get a more detailed answer in our guide to when surgery increases workers’ comp settlements.
Victoria Muñoz is an attorney on Atticus’s Workers' Compensation team. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of Stanford Law School, and has counseled hundreds of people seeking workers' compensation. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and spending time with her pup.
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