What Is the Average Workers Comp Back Injury Settlement?

AUTHOR: A.J. Bruning | March 15, 2022
What Is the Average Workers Comp Back Injury Settlement?

You have questions when you go home with a work-related back injury. You want information about disabilities and recovery timeframes. You need to know who is responsible for paying your medical bills and who handles those payments. If you cannot work, you must know your income replacement options. If your doctor says you have a permanent injury, you also need to learn more about average workers’ compensation back injury settlements.

In most cases, claim handlers pay workers’ compensation disability benefits based on rate charts, body parts injured, and degrees of disability. They consider these factors when settling your back injury claim, but the process also includes some elements of negotiation.

This usually makes settlements unpredictable. Claim statistics give you a general idea of the amount of compensation you can expect. Until you go through the claim process and negotiate a settlement, it is all speculation.

Contact a workers’ compensation attorney today to discuss your legal options.

Workplace Back Injuries

Back injury is a complicated term. It is a broad category of musculoskeletal injuries and external wounds. The most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics annual injury data shows a high incidence of back-related workplace injuries. Their most recent statistics show that 128,220 workers lost time from work due to back injuries.

Documented back injuries include trauma that affects tendons, muscles, ligaments, bones in the upper or lower back.

  • Fractures
  • Traumatic injury to the spinal cord
  • Traumatic injury to nerves
  • Pinched nerves
  • Herniated discs
  • Surface wounds and bruises
  • Sprains, strains, and tears
  • Major tears to muscles, tendons, and ligaments
  • Whiplash
  • Nonspecific back injuries

The Average Workers’ Comp Back Injury Settlement

Private resources and government agencies accumulate a lot of data about workplace injuries and workers' compensation payment statistics. Those statistics encourage injured workers by confirming other back injury outcomes. They will not necessarily help you determine your best settlement.

As with any injury, your age, health, condition, and other physical characteristics determine how your back trauma temporarily or permanently disables you. These factors play an essential role in determining your settlement. Your potential for settlement also relies on your negotiation abilities. Contact a workers’ compensation lawyer today to see how we can help you through the negotiation process.

Averages Consider Numbers Only

The National Safety Council's Injury Facts site analyzes workers' compensation claim data compiled by the National Council on Compensation Insurance. The data shows what insurance companies paid out on compensation claims in most states. The figures also include some statistics from state-managed or self-insured programs. The NSC's most recently published workers’ compensation claim data shows these injury settlement trends.

Average claim payment for upper-back injuries

  • Medical: $17,919
  • Indemnity: $17,914
  • Total paid: $35,833

Average claim payment for lower-back injuries

  • Medical: $17,563
  • Indemnity: $19,746
  • Total paid: $37,309.

These average claim statistics reflect a simple large data set. They calculate an average payout by adding up the total of all back claims paid-largest and smallest. These averages do not consider the claim type or extent of the back injury, and they do not explain the settlement amount of indemnity payments. Similar data sets often do the same thing.

Numbers Do Not Tell the Whole Story

Average settlement data provides only a general idea of your potential for a back injury settlement. When you settle your claim, several issues affect your outcome. Your settlement considers the laws, policies, and quirks of your state’s workers’ compensation system.

Each state handles workers’ compensation claims differently, incorporating one or more claim handling entities.

  • Commercial Insurers: In most states, employers purchase workers’ compensation policies. An insurer’s claim department handles claims based on their company’s claim procedures.
  • Monopolistic Comp Programs: Ohio, Wyoming, Washington, and North Dakota operate monopolistic workers’ comp systems. Companies purchase workers’ compensation insurance through the state. A state agency handles all claims and settlements.
  • Self-Insured Comp Programs: Most states have programs that let qualified companies self-insure their workers’ compensation exposures. These companies have an on-site claim administrator or outsource their claims to an independent company.

Workers’ Compensation Claims Handlers: The Human Factor

All claim handlers must comply with their state’s workers’ compensation laws and guidelines. They reimburse healthcare for reasonable medical bills. They pay injured workers’ wages based on pre-determined rates. The Social Security Program Operations Manual contains a chart listing of compensation wage payment rates for every state.

Compensation claim handlers often rely on your physician's judgment when deciding compensation, disability, and permanency. If they question a medical diagnosis, you must undergo an independent medical exam by their chosen doctor.

After a single examination, IME doctors determine your disability status by answering these and other questions.

  • Is the back injury work-related?
  • Is the treatment necessary?
  • Does the injury prevent the worker from doing their job?
  • Can the injured worker perform any work?
  • Have they reached maximum medical improvement?
  • Is their back injury a pre-existing condition?

Back Injuries Suspicions

When claim representatives handle back injury claims, their decisions often reflect a degree of doubt. Whether a person sustains injuries in a car accident, a fall, or a workplace mishap, mistrust often affects a back injury claim’s outcome. The doubt is not as profound when you have a serious, visible, or easily detectable injury. When a disability involves muscles and other soft tissues, physicians must take your word that you are experiencing pain. Claim representatives do not always accept what you say.

Back injury difficulties often linger long beyond your physician's initial prognosis. Sometimes your original injury causes permanent disabilities. Instead of continuing your benefits or offering a settlement, some claim handlers demand IMEs. If the IME doctor decides against you, you usually lose your benefits, and you must return to work.

Do You Need a Worker’s Compensation Lawyer to Handle Your Back Injury Claim?


Bruning Law Firm Lead Lawyers
Workers Compensation Lawyers at The Bruning Law Firm

If you are disabled due to a workplace back injury, you understand that the settlement process is not easy. You need a workers’ compensation attorney looking out for you and protecting your legal interests. As your legal representative, your attorney can work with you throughout your workers’ compensation claim process.

Attorneys help you present the strong documentation you need to support your claim, and they deal directly with claim handlers. When necessary, they file appeals on your behalf and help you through the IME. If you reach maximum healing but have a permanent impairment, attorneys negotiate for a fair back injury settlement.

When you call for your free consultation, you have an opportunity to learn more about your legal rights. Contact Bruning Law Firm for a workers’ comp lawyer today to get started.

A.J. Bruning


I was born and raised to represent individuals who have been needlessly injured. I mean that literally. At a young age my father would tell me about the clients he was representing. I would meet them and take pride in their admiration of my father. I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer and represent clients that needed my help.

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