Home » Work Injuries » How Much is My Back Injury Worth in a Workers Comp Settlement


The amount of a workers comp back injury settlement depends on a variety of factors. One important factor is the severity of your injury including permanent impairments. The severity of the back injury can range from fully recoverable to life-altering with a major impact on the worker for life.
Back or spine injuries are often the most serious types of workplace injuries. The resolution is either through settlement or trial. Either option occurs in the Workers Compensation Courts of New Jersey. The back is a complicated and vulnerable part of the body. It involves neurological and orthopedic aspects of a healthy functioning individual. There is help from the New Jersey Workers Compensation law when the back pain results from a work-related injury. You are not alone in the fight to get better.  
As you proceed with a decision to settle or try your case, it is useful to know that the spine is divided into four distinct areas:
Regions of the spine impacted by work accidents
  • Cervical Spine:  upper back and neck area consisting of vertebrae C1 through C7.
  • Thoracic Spine:  middle back area consisting of vertebrae T1 through T12;
  • Lumbar Spine:  lower back and tailbone area consisting of vertebrae L1 through L5.
  • Sacrococcygeal: 9 fused vertebrae in the sacrum and coccyx.
Each area can be the source of a work injury. The injury can result in muscle strain and sprain. Or, more significant injuries such as fractured vertebrae, herniated disks, and even partial or full paralysis. For example, disks injury involving a workers comp settlement for the L4-L5-S1 series of vertebrae of the lumbar spine is common.

What are Common Causes of Workers Comp Back Injuries?

Construction Sites

Often involve many slip hazards for the construction workers. Falling from heights and lifting heavy or awkward objects are also common risks. Truck and car accidents also occur from long hours on the job with inadequate rest periods.

Medical Workers

Often involve direct patient contact who need help with moving and other activities of everyday life. The environment is often fast-paced. This environment requires quick decision-making from the doctor, nurse or healthcare professional. A negative impact on the worker can result.

Repetitive Motion

Industrial tradespeople from plumbers to electricians with high-impact physical activities. They often repeat the same tasks throughout the workday. The human body does not react well when subjected to the same cumulative strain over and over again.
The list is not all-inclusive. The bottom line is any type of manual activity in any workplace environment or industry can cause back injury.

Understanding Neck and Back Injury Settlements in Workers Comp

Once your authorized medical provider has released you from medical care the case can be evaluated for a permanency benefit. This evaluation typically occurs after 26 weeks have elapsed from the earlier of your return to work or release from active medical treatment which is known as Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). MMI is when your treating doctor informs you that your condition will not get any better with further medical treatment.   
Both you and typically the insurance company for your employer will retain physicians to evaluate you. The evaluations assess the question of permanent injury. A physician not involved in your medical treatment usually conducts the examination. The reports of the physicians can conclude with a recommended percentage of permanent disability. Any percentage of permanent disability identifies body parts harmed by the work injury.

How Does The Workers Compensation Settlement Process Work?

Magnifying glass revealing how to resolve a workman comp case
The work accident lawyer often begins settlement negotiations. This attorney submits a written demand to the insurance carrier for the employer. The letter can describe the permanent nature of your injuries. And include current complaints and the amount of money you want to receive in a settlement. The insurance carrier often responds with an offer that is lower in an amount reflecting what the carrier is willing to pay.
Offers and counteroffers can go back and forth several times. A potential agreement acceptable to both parties can result. Low settlement offers or disputes over legal issues may impact the resolution of the case. This could doom the settlement negotiations. 
The amount of the workers compensation settlement for a back injury depends on a wide variety of factors. Each case brought before a Judge of Compensation is unique. As such, New Jersey Courts do not maintain average settlement amounts for work-related back injuries. The case determinations are fact sensitive. The need for an experienced New Jersey Workers Compensation attorney to assist you is clear.
There are many factors common to each back injury case but how the factors apply to an individual set of facts varies on a case by case basis.  A key consideration for the settlement value of your back injury case is the severity of the injury. The severity of the injury can range from a recoverable workplace accident to a life-changing injury that leaves a dramatic lifetime impact on the worker.

Should You Accept A Workers Comp Back Injury Settlement Amount?

The decision to settle is yours and yours alone. You have the right to a trial before the Judge of Compensation. You might choose this option if, after you weigh the pros and cons, you decide that a settlement is not in your best interest. Guidance in this weighing of the risk/benefit analysis is vital. Choose a New Jersey work injury lawyer who you trust to explain all the applicable factors on whether to settle your work injury case or pursue a trial
Settlement negotiations often take place between the parties as part of the case. Such negotiations have no impact on the Judge of Compensation. The Judge makes a decision after hearing all the evidence of the case during a trial.
The Judge is not bound by settlement discussions or tentative conclusions reached by the parties about possible terms of settling the case. The Judge will make his or her determination from the evidence you and the employer present. This evidence can consist of your testimony and the testimony of evaluating physicians. The physicians are often those who wrote the reports assessing the permanency aspect of your case. The Judge strives to arrive at a fair decision.

Spinal Cord Injuries

These injuries are often the most serious form of back injury. The spinal cord allows the brain to send and receive signals to and from your body. If the spinal cord is completely severed, paralysis results from the injured area down the rest of the body. Compression or damage to the spinal cord without severance is less serious. These injuries often have lifelong repercussions for the injured worker. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), publishes important statistics. The statistics show that motor vehicle accidents are the most common form of injury followed in total amount by falls. Workplace accidents in New Jersey often involve motor vehicle accidents or falls.

Christopher Reeve: An American hero.

Christopher Reeve suffered a severe spinal cord injury. This occurred during an equestrian competition in Virginia on May 27, 1995. An accomplished actor, athlete, philanthropist and father. His horse suddenly stopped during the competition. Reeve fell from the horse and landed on his head while crushing two vertebrae of his cervical spine. Paralysis from the neck down resulted in a condition known as quadriplegia.

This was not a workplace accident. Still, it demonstrates the strength of character to regain life from a catastrophic back injury. Reeve heroically fought back against the injury. He remained a public figure advocating for finding a cure. A cure needed for himself and those afflicted by spinal cord injuries either in the workplace or out.
Confined to a wheelchair and ventilator dependent, he refused to live out the rest of his life far from the public eye. Instead, he persevered with repeated surgical interventions including the reattachment of his skull to the spine and ongoing efforts at rehabilitation and recovery. A staunch advocate for back injury research and the development of a cure for spinal cord paralysis including stem cell research.   He reflected: “Who knows why an accident happens?  The key is what do you do afterward.”

Please visit the Christopher and Dana Reeves Foundation for more information.

Valiant Christopher Reeves discussing the impact of a back injury
Christopher Reeve

Choose A New Jersey Workers Comp Lawyer Experienced With The Claim Process

The goal of the insurance company is to pay as little as possible. You need a fair settlement on the best terms possible. A New Jersey work injury attorney in your corner will engage with the insurance company on your behalf. Last but not least, our contact number is (856) 596-8000.  

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