What determines a workers comp settlement amount for a herniated disc? This loaded question depends on several factors. Every workers comp settlement for a herniated disc is contingent on the following:
Work Status and Multiple Injuries
Whether the injured worker is out of work will affect settlement value for a herniated disc. This is because workers comp awards for injuries to systemic areas, such as the head, neck, or back, depend in part on work status. Weekly payments are made when the worker is out of work due to the disc injury. They are also made if the injured worker is back at work but earning less due to the disc injury. A worker with a herniated disc who is working and earning full pay will not receive weekly payments. The insurance carrier will consider work status when negotiating workers comp settlement for a herniated disc. This is because work status will impact the amount the carrier will likely pay on the case in the future.
If there are other injuries in addition to the herniated disc, such as to a joint, the worker may still be eligible to receive a Schedule Loss of Use Award. A Schedule Loss of Use Award is a lump sum payment for permanent injury to a joint. That type of award is not dependent on work status.
How Average Weekly Wage Determines Workers Comp Settlement Value for a Herniated Disc
Awards in workers comp are payable per the worker’s average weekly wage. The max rate of awards on a case equals two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage, subject to a maximum amount set by law. Importantly, the rate of pay determines the insurance carrier’s future exposure on a claim. As such, the carrier will always look at average weekly wage when valuing a workers comp settlement for a herniated disc.
Average weekly wage can be set using the worker’s payroll for the year prior to the accident. It can also be set in the case using other evidence, such as the worker’s tax returns, pay stubs, or W-2’s. A worker should always seek to have average weekly wage set as high as possible in his or her case. The parties negotiating a workers comp settlement for a herniated disc will consider average weekly wage.
Loss of Wage Earning Capacity
A case involving a worker with a herniated disc will typically result in a Loss of Wage Earning Capacity (LWEC) finding. LWEC refers to the worker’s loss of wage earning capacity due to permanent injury. It takes into account the severity of the injury as well as vocational factors like age, education, certifications, licenses, and work experience. An LWEC decision ultimately determines the rate a carrier must pay the worker on a weekly basis. It also determines how long the carrier must pay weekly benefits. When negotiating a workers comp settlement for a herniated disc, the insurance carrier will always try to estimate what the Board will find LWEC to be. Contact a professional personal injury law firm that will be able to assist with your case.