How Much Is a Workers' Comp Neck Injury Settlement?
January 30, 2024 · 4 min read
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Workers experienced more than 11,000 neck injuries in 2020 according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).1 One out of every three neck injuries resulted in at least a month of missed work, but even with less severe cases, workers missed eight work days on average. Thankfully, injuries you suffer on the job qualify for workers’ compensation, an insurance program that pays your medical bills and for lost wages while you recover. You could also receive a large settlement depending on the circumstance of your neck injury. Settlements aren’t guaranteed, but here’s what you should know in case you get an offer.
How much is the average workers' comp neck settlement?
Data from the National Safety Council (NSC) shows that the average neck injury settlement is worth $65,659. That total cost includes $34,397 for medical expenses and $31,262 toward general indemnity. NSC data shows that only head injuries are worth more on average.2
While those numbers give a good sense of what you could expect, they’re only averages. How much you get will depend on the exact injury you have, what your job is, and where you live. The longer it will take you to recover, the more you can generally expect from workers’ comp. Injuries that also affect other body parts — like your head, shoulders, back, or internal organs — could lead to much higher payouts. Any treatments or neck surgeries that complicate your recovery could also increase your potential settlement.
You deserve a fair workers' comp settlement. Atticus can help.
Do all neck injuries qualify for workers’ comp?
Any work-related neck injury could qualify you for benefits as long as it results from doing your job duties. That includes situations where you have neck pain as a symptom of another injury. For example, if you get a shoulder injury at work and you keep working but it later results in neck pain, you can qualify for workers comp.
Workers’ comp is also a no-fault program, so it doesn’t matter whether something happened because you made a mistake, because your work environment was unsafe, or because someone else did something to you.
However, it’s very important that you report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. If it’s an injury that took time to develop, report it as soon as you know (or your doctor confirms) that it’s related to your work duties. Most states give you a few days but check your state’s reporting deadline to be sure. Missing that window could make you ineligible for workers’ comp benefits.
Common examples of workers’ comp neck injuries
It’s impossible to make a complete list of eligible workers’ comp injuries, since anything that happens because of your job can qualify. You can qualify with pain, stiffness, inflammation and swelling, or decrease loss of motion on your neck area. One-time accidents, repetitive strain injuries (from years of doing the same motion), and side effects from other work injuries all qualify.
The list below includes some examples of possible neck injuries or conditions that could get you benefits:
Atlantoaxial joint injuries
Cervical spine injuries, like to the C1 (atlas) or C2 (axis) vertebrae
Chemical burns from inhaling toxic or corrosive substances
Cuts and lacerations
Degenerative disc disease
Fractures to the spine, vertebrae, clavicle, or rotator cuff
When will workers’ comp offer a settlement for a neck injury?
Not all claims end with a settlement. If you’re going to get on, it’s common around the time you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). That’s the point where your workers’ comp doctor believes you won’t recover more even with additional treatment. Insurance may wait until this point to make a settlement offer because it’s easier to determine how much longer you’ll miss work and how much future medical care could cost. However, it’s possible to agree to a settlement at any time. Maybe the insurer will want you to sign a contract immediately to avoid the possibility of long-term or costly medical treatments.
There are three main paths you can take when you get a settlement offer:
Accept the offer from insurance.
Reject the offer to keep getting your regular benefits.
Negotiate a higher settlement.
The best option for you truly depends on your personal circumstances. If you want to accept the settlement offer, make sure that it’s enough to cover all your necessary expenses. That’s current and future lost income while you can’t do your job, current and future medical bills, plus any other costs you may have while out of work. Take extra care if you have multiple injuries that require separate treatments.
It isn’t easy to estimate how much is a fair settlement offer, so we recommend talking with an experienced workers’ comp lawyer. A local lawyer will be able to tell what’s a fair settlement based on your injury, your medical care, your industry, local workers’ comp laws, and other factors. They’ll be able to handle paperwork, schedule medical treatment with doctor’s they trust, and negotiate with the insurer’s legal team so you can focus on recovery.
How much does workers’ comp pay if I don’t settle?
No matter where you live, workers’ comp should pay for all medical care related to your neck injury — doctor’s visits, medications, physical therapy, surgery, copays, and anything else your doctor says you need. Insurance will likely pay these costs directly to your medical providers.
You should also receive wage replacement payments either weekly or every other week. Most states pay up to two-thirds of your pre-injury average weekly wage (AWW). We have a state-based workers’ comp payment guide so you can see what to expect in your state.
Your payments typically last until you reach MMI. If you reach MMI and still can’t return to work or can return but have a permanent condition, your doctor will give you an impairment rating between zero and 100. That rating helps the insurance to calculate the value and length of any long-term (permanent disability) benefits.
Do I need a workers’ comp lawyer?
You can get a settlement without a lawyer’s help. We suggest talking to a lawyer for two main reasons:
They’ll have experience negotiating settlements for similar injuries, so they’ll help you get a fair payout.
The insurance company will have its own team of lawyers and trying to secure a reasonable settlement on your own is difficult.
If you’re unsure whether a lawyer is worth it for you, it’s at least worth reaching out to one for an initial consultation. Any good lawyer will give a free first call. You also won’t pay anything upfront if you agree to work with them. They get paid on a contingency fee, so only get paid if you get your settlement. If they can’t get you a settlement, you won’t have to pay the lawyer’s fee.
Atticus can connect you with an experienced lawyer in your state. Fill out our quick workers’ comp questionnaire to get started and a member of our team will reach out to learn more about your situation.
Call us to get help with your workers' comp claim today.
Common questions about workers’ comp neck injuries
Who qualifies for workers’ comp?
Most full-time and part-time workers can qualify for workers’ comp, but independent contractors, consultants, and freelancers don’t usually qualify.
The average workers’ comp settlement for a neck injury is about $65,700 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 neck surgery increase my workers’ comp settlement?
It depends. Neck or throat surgery could increase your potential settlement if it doesn’t lead to a recovery or if you have complications. 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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