Skip to main content

How long does it take for workmans comp to offer a settlement on cervical spine fusion?

Knoxville, TN |

My usband was injured on job and first had surgery for torn rotator cuff and labrum. After symptoms didn't go away we finally had an mri that read c3 through c7 bulging with spinal compression and also bruised spinal cord. He had multi level fusion with instrumentation, which is healing on schedule, but now still having problems with shoulder. Was sent to another ortho for shoulder and so on. He was injured on 12/6/2011. Worked 3 months after that. Neuro said he came close to being paralyzed. My husband works as a concrete finisher with a bridge crew. We are tired of the run around and medical opinions from caseworkers and adjusters. Just want some kind of insight at what we are facing.

+ Read More

Attorney answers 5

Best Answer

Your husband has two injuries that are considered "whole body" injuries under the Tennessee workers compensation law ... rotator cuff and cervical spine injuries. Before settlement can even be considered, your husband must reach "maximum medical improvement" for each injury. In other words, your husband must reach a point during the recuperation period after each surgery at which he will not get much better or, is as good as he will get. At that time, the surgeon will place your husband at "maxiumum medical improvement" for the particular injury (rotator cuff and cervical spine), assign a "permanent impairment rating" for each injury and assign permanent work restrictions or limitations resulting from each injury. Then, the employer must provide a job for your husband within the combined permanent restrictions or limitations assigned, at a wage equal to or greater than the amount your husband was earning when he was injured OR tell your husband there is no job for him within the assigned permanent restrictions or limitations. If the employer provides a job for your husband, the employer may have to pay a maximum of one-and-a-half times the combined permanent impairment ratings. If the employer does not provide a job for your husband, the employer may have to pay up to 5 or 6 times the combined permanent impairment ratings. Be aware that in addition to the physical injuries your husband has, he may also have a "psychological injury" that may be subject to an additional permanent impairment rating. With injuries like your husband has, it is common to have "pain induced depression" resulting from the pain associated with the physical injuries. This "pain induced depression" is the "psychological injury" that may be subject to the additional "permanent impairment rating". The employer does not have to offer a settlement until it is forced to. Your husband can force his employer to make a settlement offer by filing a Request For Benefit Review Conference with the Tennessee Department of Labor after he reaches "maximum medical improvement" for both injuries. When your husband files the Request For Benefit Review Conference, the employer is forced to attend a Benefit Review Conference at the Tennessee Department of Labor office closest to you, to try and settle your husbands case. If the employer does not offer enough money to settle your husband's case at the Benefit Review Conference, then a lawsuit can be filed by your husband to have the case heard and decided by a judge. As you can tell, your husband's case is quite complicated. Also, you get only one chance for your husband to get the full value of his claim. The full value of your husband's claim can only be determined by an experienced workers compensation attorney. I suggest that you and your husband should not try to handle his case yourselves. Immediately contact an experienced workers compensation attorney. I hope this helps explain what's ahead for you. Good luck!

This response is given solely as a general response to the question and does not create an attorney / client relationship between the questioner and responder.


I'm sorry to hear about these injuries of your husband.

Ultimately, the best strategy to get a settlement is to be ready to litigate. Adjusters have many cases, are underpaid, and are generally unemotional about the process. And wouldn't you expect someone handling hundreds of cases to be? You should definitely hire a lawyer to move the case forward.

If any answer on AVVO helps you, mine or someone else’s, please mark it as "helpful" or "best answer" to help AVVO know which answers to show others. Thank you. This response may provide information relating to potential legal issues. Nevertheless, your review of any information contained herein is not a substitute for legal advice from qualified legal counsel. For this reason, you should not rely on this response as a source of legal advice. Your use of this information does not create any attorney-client agreement. In order to become a client of David C. Lee, you must negotiate a specific attorney–client agreement with an attorney from this law office.


You need to hire an attorney to protect your husband's interests. The caseworker is reporting to the employer and the workers' compensation insurance company. The employer is choosing his medical providers which are often chosen because they will give very conservative opinions on the the injuries. Depending on when your husband's last medical treatment was, the statute of limitations may be approaching. This is the time period which limits how long you have to file suit. I recommend hiring an attorney right away.


The real answer to your questions depends primarily on how long it will take for your husband to recover from his surgery to the point of maximum medical improvement. However, do not just assume that the employer is going to willingly settle the case. While many cases do settle, workers' compensation cases are circumstance specific. Each one is different. It can be difficult to deal with case workers and unsolicited medical opinions from unqualified people. Your best strategy is to hire an attorney to run interference for you on these things, and to also keep a good relationship with the treating doctor(s). Healing takes its own time, and it is not something anyone can accurately predict. See my legal guide for a host of reasons why you should seriously consider hiring someone to represent you. Contact a reputable workers' compensation attorney in Knoxville that knows work injury cases.


It may take awhile. Your husband has to reach maximum medical improvement ("MMI") from ALL of his work-related injuries and receive a rating from his authorized physicians pursuant to the American Medical Association Guidelines for the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. The workers' compensation carrier won't offer to settle until after your husband has reached MMI and has a rating for all of his work-related injuries. Be patient. It is a lengthy process.



Thank you all for your answers. I knew it was going to be difficult, just had no idea how difficult. I would like to consult with an attorney on this matter. If anyone has any advice on an attorney willing to fight for my husbands rights I would greatly appreciate it. There is a lot more details to his story that is too much to explain on here. We just really need legal help.

Ben Hyder Houston II

Ben Hyder Houston II


You can call my office for a free telephone if you would like. I am often at court, so if I am not immediately available leave message with your name and number and I will return you call. (865) 546-0011

Larry Van Roberts

Larry Van Roberts


I've handled workers compensation cases in Tennessee for over 20 years. Please read my answer to your question. If I can help you and your husband, please call my cell phone (423-963-5090) anytime. I'll be glad to answer your questions.

Employment topics

Recommended articles about Employment

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer