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How Much Is a Workers' Comp Spine Injury Settlement in 2024?

Written by
A drawing of the lead workers' compensation lawyer for Atticus.
Victoria Muñoz
Lead Attorney
Published April 26, 2024
Updated April 29, 2024
4 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.

See if you qualify

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that more than 200,000 workers injured their backs or spines in 2022, with almost one-third of them needing at least a month off work to recover.1 If you have an on-the-job injury to your spine, you could qualify for workers’ compensation, which replaces lost work income and pays for your medical care. In many cases, you could also negotiate a sizable workers’ comp settlement.


The average workers' comp spine injury settlement

Workers with spine injuries, which can include head and central nervous system injuries, settled for an average of $94,285, according to 2023 data from the National Safety Council (NSC). That payout amount includes $60,722 to cover medical care and $33,563 as an indemnity payment (lost wage benefits).2

While a good point of reference, this amount is only a national average. Your actual settlement depends on your specific spine injury. You could negotiate a higher payment if you need surgery, develop a chronic condition, experience complications, or otherwise expect to miss significant work time. Injuries that also affect other body parts — especially your head, neck, back, or pelvis — could lead to a higher settlement.

Settle your workers' comp claim today.

Do all spine injuries qualify for workers’ comp?

Spine injuries can qualify for workers’ comp as long as they result from doing your job duties and leave you unable to work. You also need to report your injury to your employer. Most states give you a week or less to report and missing the deadline could make you ineligible for workers’ comp. Check your state’s reporting deadline here.

Not all workers qualify for benefits, though. Freelancers, gig workers, and contract workers can’t typically get workers’ compensation. If you believe your employer misclassified you as a contractor, an Atticus lawyer may still be able to help. Take our workers’ comp quiz to get started.

Common workers’ comp spine injuries

Injuries from one-time accidents qualify no matter who was at fault for the accident. A repetitive-use injury that develops over years — like spinal arthritis — can also qualify as long as you can prove that your work caused or contributed to the injury.

Some examples of common workers’ comp spine injuries are:

  • Dislocations

  • Fractured vertebrae (including stress fractures)

  • Herniated discs

  • Lumbar spinal stenosis

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Slipped discs

  • Spinal nerve compression

  • Spinal cord compression

  • Spinal sprains and strains

Other conditions that lead to weakness, back pain, balance issues, stiffness, inability to bend over, numbness, sharp pain, or a decreased range of motion can also qualify. Learn more about the types of injuries that qualify for workers’ comp.


When to expect a settlement

Workers’ comp claims don’t always end in settlements. You’re much more likely to get a settlement offer if you miss extended work time due to your injury or reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) and need long-term benefits. In both cases, the insurance company will look to settle as a way to avoid paying you months or years of benefits.

Whether you’ve already received an offer or just want to settle, it’s smart to consult with a workers’ comp lawyer before signing any agreement.

Learn more about when workers’ compensation offers settlements.


What you should do if you get a settlement offer

If you get a settlement offer, you can do one of three things:

  1. Accept the settlement.

  2. Reject the settlement and continue receiving benefits.

  3. Negotiate a better settlement.

Accepting the insurer's initial offer isn’t the best option in many cases. The insurance company is trying to pay you as little as possible, so their first offer is usually too low for your needs.

Even though most people can earn thousands more by negotiating, it isn’t an easy process to go through on your own. Estimating a settlement that accurately covers future medical expenses, lost wages, and other expenses is complex. Your state may also require you to fill out technical forms and go through multiple court hearings. All the while, the insurance company has its own lawyer (if not a whole team) whose job is saving the company money.

Your best option is to contact a workers’ comp lawyer. Atticus has workers’ comp lawyers across the country, and settlements with our lawyers are double the average for people who don’t use a lawyer. To get a free consultation and learn more about your options, start with our 3-minute intake quiz.


Workers’ comp payments if you don’t settle

Workers’ comp benefits in most states are worth up to two-thirds (66.67%) of your average until you return to work, settle, or move to permanent disability benefits. (Find your state rate here.) The insurer will also pay for all necessary medical care, including doctor visits, copays, medications, and surgical procedures.


How long payments last if you don’t settle

Temporary benefits (what you receive right after you file a claim) last until you reach maximum medical improvement in most cases. If you haven’t fully recovered by then, you will transition to long-term benefits (also called permanent disability). The value of those checks varies by state and may be worth less than two-thirds of your previous wages. How long they last also varies by state. The disability rating assigned by your workers’ comp doctor plays a big part here, though if you’re paralyzed, you could be eligible for lifetime payments.

See how long workers’ comp lasts in your state.


Who needs a workers’ comp lawyer

You don’t technically need a workers’ comp lawyer, but having one can be helpful, especially if the insurer offers to settle. An experienced lawyer is trained in your state’s laws and knows how to accurately estimate a fair settlement based on your job, income level, and other local factors.

Remember that the insurance company is also incentivized to pay you as little as it can to protect its own profits. That could mean not only a lower settlement but less medical care and possibly lower quality medical care. A workers’ comp lawyer is an important advocate for your rights and well-being.

You won’t have to pay anything upfront, either. Reputable lawyers (like all of Atticus’ workers’ compensation lawyers) offer free consultations and don’t ask for any payment until after you receive your settlement. And since the average Atticus settlement is twice as high as what workers get without a lawyer, you’re making significant money even after paying your lawyer fee.

To get your questions answered and connect with a workers’ comp lawyer in your area, complete our quick workers’ comp quiz or call us at the phone number below.

Get workers' comp help today.

Common questions about workers’ comp spine 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.

Does my spine injury qualify for workers’ comp?

If your spine injury is serious enough that you need to miss work and you report it to your employer quickly, you could qualify for workers’ comp benefits. Here’s how long you have to report a work injury in your state.

How much will my settlement be for a spine injury?

The average workers’ comp settlement for a spine injury is over $94,000 nationally, but you could get more or less depending on your situation. If you want to maximize your settlement, talk with a workers’ comp attorney. Settlements are twice as high with an Atticus 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 surgery increase my workers’ comp settlement?

Surgery could increase your potential settlement if it doesn't lead to a recovery, leads to complications, or leaves you unable to work for a long time. Since procedures on the spine can require long recovery periods in many cases, there's a good chance you could negotiate a higher payment. Learn more in our guide to when surgery increases workers’ comp settlements.

Will I pay tax on my workers’ comp settlement?

No. Workers’ compensation settlements aren’t taxable, with only very rare exceptions.

What if I can’t return to work after my spine injury?

You may qualify for permanent workers' comp benefits or long-term benefits through a program like SSDI. Learn more about your options if you can’t return to work after an injury or illness.

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Related resources:

How Much a Workers' Comp Lawyer Costs

A hand draw portrait of a smiling, helpful lawyer.
By Victoria Muñoz

5 Common Questions About Workers' Comp Lawyers

A hand draw portrait of a smiling, helpful lawyer.
By Victoria Muñoz

See what you qualify for

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/.
A drawing of the lead workers' compensation lawyer for Atticus.

Victoria Muñoz

Lead Attorney

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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