Guide to Workers’ Compensation Settlements for Back Injuries in Virginia
If you have suffered a debilitating back injury due to an accident at work, you are likely entitled to Virginia workers’ compensation benefits. However, figuring out your benefits and whether it is worth hiring an experienced back injury attorney can be challenging—especially if you are experiencing pain and discomfort while also trying to navigate the legal system on your own. So before making any important decisions about your case, it is critical to consult with a top-rated Virginia Workers’ Compensation attorney who can provide answers to these vital questions.
At The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we have successfully represented injured workers in Virginia and the surrounding communities for over two decades. If you or a loved one suffered a work-related back injury or condition, such as herniated or bulging discs, fractured vertebra, or nerve damage, we invite you to call 276-623-0808 to schedule a free consultation.
As an experienced back injury lawyer, firm-founding attorney Mark Hurt can listen to the facts of your case, explain your legal options, and zealously advocate for the maximum workers’ compensation settlement possible. We also encourage you to read through the following guide to learn more about the Virginia workers’ comp settlement process.
What Is the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act?
The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act is a state law that mandates that employers must provide workers’ compensation insurance, whether an injured employee qualifies for benefits, and how much an employer is required to pay.
The workers’ compensation program operates under a strict set of rules, and it is designed to protect both employers and employees by providing medical care and disability benefits when someone is injured on the job. Virginia workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, meaning that employees who suffer work-related back injuries will usually be entitled to benefits even if they are partially at fault for an accident.
Are Certain Occupations More Susceptible to Work-Related Back Injuries in Virginia?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than one million workers suffer debilitating back injuries each year. If you work in an office, hospital, or factory, it is likely that you have suffered from back pain at some point in your life. This is because back injuries are common among workers across all industries and occupations.
While back injuries can occur at any job, certain occupations are more susceptible to work-related back injuries, including:
- Construction workers and manual laborers
- Manufacturing and distribution workers
- Nurses and healthcare providers
- First responders
- Retail employees
- Transportation drivers (e.g., truck drivers, taxi drivers, etc.)
- Teachers or childcare workers who regularly lift children
- Auto mechanics
Employees working in these jobs are more prone to suffer back-related injuries for a variety of reasons.
For example, first responders, such as firefighters, police officers, and EMTs, are at risk for back injuries because they may have to lift heavy equipment during emergency situations. Nurses also tend to develop lower back problems from standing for many hours and lifting patients. Conversely, commercial truck drivers face similar risks because they often drive for long distances on Virginia’s highways, which means that their bodies take more wear and tear over time than office workers.
Regardless of how a work-related back injury arises, it is critical for injured employees to understand their entitlement to workers’ compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.
What Job Duties Increase the Chances of Injuring Your Back at Work in Virginia?
You may be at a higher risk of injuring your back at work if you:
- Carry heavy loads.
- Lift or move heavy objects.
- Work in uncomfortable positions, such as bending over for long periods of time with no support for your back.
- Constantly bend, twist, and lift as part of your job duties (e.g., house painters, nurses, etc.).
- Work in confined spaces where there is little room to move around freely without straining muscles or joints (for example, being an electrician working inside closely-confined spaces while working on electric panels).
If these scenarios sound familiar to you and you are experiencing back pain, then it is vital to understand how these activities could damage the structure of the spine over time through injury or strain injuries like sciatica nerve pain caused by compression between vertebrae bones.
What Back Injuries & Lumbar Spine Conditions Are Commonly Caused by Work Accidents and Repetitive Work Activities in Virginia?
There are many different types of back injuries and lumbar spine conditions that are commonly caused by work accidents and repetitive work activities, including (but not limited to):
- Lumbar spine conditions (e.g., herniated disks, bulging disks, degenerative disc disease, stenosis, etc.)
- Fractures and dislocations of the lumbar spine
- Sciatica (i.e., pain that radiates from your lower back down one or both legs)
- Lumbar radiculopathy
- Thoracic or lumbar spine fractures
- Failed Back Surgery Syndrome
- Sacroiliac (SI) joint disease (i.e., Sacroiliitis)
Can I Qualify for Virginia Workers’ Compensation If I Am Partially At-Fault for My Injuries?
The Virginia workers’ compensation system is a no-fault system. This means that employees do not need to prove that their employer was negligent or even at fault for their injuries. Instead, employers who provide workers’ comp insurance are required by law to pay for certain medical costs and lost wages if an employee is injured on the job, even if the worker is partially at fault for causing the accident.
The goal of workers’ compensation is twofold: first, it provides immediate financial assistance so that injured employees can get back on their feet and resume earning an income as soon as possible; second, it helps injured workers avoid filing expensive lawsuits against their former employers (which would cost both sides more money).
Can I File a Lawsuit in Virginia If I Am Collecting Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Virginia workers’ compensation is generally the primary means of recovering compensation from an injured worker’s employer, meaning that you typically cannot sue your own employer for work-related injuries. However, there are some limited exceptions, such as if an employer intentionally caused an injury or if it should have had workers’ compensation insurance at the time of an injury but did not.
However, if someone other than your employer caused (or was partly responsible for) your injury, you can sue that other person or company for their part in causing your injuries, and still collect workers’ compensation benefits.
Workers’ compensation statutes only protect employers from lawsuits brought by their own employees; they do not protect a company from being sued by an injured worker who does not work for that company. In workers’ compensation matters, “third parties” (meaning those other than an injured worker’s employer) who may be at fault in a work injury case often include other companies who may be on the employer’s premises, other contractors at a construction job site, those that manufacture or sell defective products that cause injury, and those who may cause a vehicle crash.
Our firm represents injured clients not only in workers’ compensation matters, but also in bringing third party lawsuits against others causing work injuries.
If someone other than an injured worker’s employer is responsible for an injury, it is critical that a lawsuit be brought. Importantly, while pain and suffering and certain other damages are not recoverable in workers’ compensation matters, they are recoverable in a lawsuit against a third party.
As an experienced Virginia workers’ comp back injury lawyer, Mark Hurt can evaluate the facts of your case and help identify all potentially liable parties, so you and your family have the best chances of securing full and fair compensation for your injuries.
What is the Average Workers’ Compensation Settlement Amount for Back Injuries and Spine Degenerative Disc Disease?
If you or a loved one suffered a debilitating back injury at work, you are likely wondering what the average workers’ compensation settlement amount for back injuries and spine degenerative disc disease is in Virginia. The answer depends on many factors, including:
- How the injury or condition impacts the lumbar spine;
- The medical treatment administered (i.e., surgical versus non-surgical treatment); and
- Whether a worker has permanent restrictions preventing them from returning to pre-injury employment.
According to the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), the average workers’ compensation costs for a lower back injury is $37,966, while an upper back injury typically costs around $36,754. However, injuries requiring multiple surgical interventions and permanent disability can result in significantly higher settlements in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
What Types of Compensation Can I Recover Through Virginia Workers’ Compensation for a Back Injury?
Here are some of the types of compensation you may be entitled to for your back injury:
- Medical treatment (e.g., surgery, prescriptions and medications, physical therapy, chiropractic care, etc.)
- Prosthesis and durable medical equipment
- Lost wages and other monetary compensation
- Temporary Disability Benefits
- Permanent Partial Disability Benefits (PPD)
- Permanent Total Disability Benefits (PTD)
- Death Benefits (e.g., burial expenses up to $10,000, reasonable transportation expenses up to $1,000, dependent compensation, etc.)
What Factors Impact Virginia Workers’ Compensation Settlements for Back Injuries?
The most important factor in determining how much money you can expect from your workers’ compensation settlement for back injuries in Virginia will be the severity of the injury. Most back injuries are minor and do not require surgery, but some require surgery as part of their treatment plan. If you have an accident at work that causes a serious back injury, it is likely that you will need surgery to repair the damage done by the accident or other medical conditions such as arthritis or scoliosis.
Other factors considered when determining a Virginia workers’ compensation settlement include:
- Whether the medical documentation demonstrates that an individual suffered a back injury and that a work accident caused or contributed to the condition;
- Whether a workers’ comp award letter has been issued covering a work-related back injury;
- Whether surgery is needed for the back injury;
- The amount of pre-injury earnings;
- The physical requirements of an injured employee’s pre-injury job;
- Whether permanent impairments are present; and
- The defenses available to an employer (and its insurance company) to deny a back injury claim.
Obtaining a full and fair worker’s compensation settlement in Virginia can be challenging; however, an injured worker’s chances of obtaining maximum compensation significantly increase when he or she is represented by one of the best Virginia workers’ compensation attorneys.
For years, back injury lawyer Mark Hurt has helped those injured in Virginia obtain millions of dollars in compensation through workers’ comp settlements and benefits and third-party lawsuits. If you or a loved one suffered a job-related back injury, you do not have to face this challenging process alone. Call our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
How Much Does It Cost To Hire An Experienced Virginia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
At The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we represent clients in worker’s compensation cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that you will not owe any fee unless we are successful in recovering compensation for you.
Under Virginia law, attorney’s fees for worker’s compensation cases cannot exceed 20% of the compensation obtained for a client, regardless of the number of hours spent on a case. In some cases, the percentage fee may be lower; once we know more about your case, we can advise you of the percentage fee that may apply to your matter.
Suffered A Debilitating Back Injury At Work? Schedule A Free Consultation with a Top-Rated Attorney for Workers’ Comp Back Injury Claims and Settlements.
If you have suffered a debilitating back injury at work and are unsure of what to do next, it is critical to speak with an experienced Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer. A top-rated back injury lawyer will be able to help you understand your rights under the law and ensure that your employer fulfills its obligations by providing medical care and paying for lost wages if appropriate.
Call our offices at 276-623-0808 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who has a track record of success in obtaining maximum workers’ comp settlements for back injuries.
The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt has conveniently located offices in Abingdon, Hillsville, Wytheville, Emporia, Salem, and Wise, Virginia.