If you were a Federal Employee and injured in the performance of duty, there is no settlement but there is compensation for lost wages and the pay rate would include the value of the quarters the government provided. There is also a schedule. The spine is not included in the schedule but the extremities are. You should get help from a union steward or local attorney as soon as possible.
In CALIFORNIA, a Workers' Compensation award is based on your reduced competitiveness in the workplace.
I've been advised it's similar in Tennessee, so while I'm not licensed there, I'm confident there is no set dollar amount for each injured body part.
If you spine surgeries were very successful and you can return to work, the award will be limited.
If doctors write WHY you cannot return to your pre-injury job, the award will be higher, but the decision about the job has to be the reporting physician's decision that you should never do that work again (california judges won't award anything for a worker afraid to return to work for fear of re-injury).
SERIOUSLY consider a Workers' Compensation attorney. If you are looking at spinal surgery, get the attorney to get you a REAL surgeon before your life is ruined.
In Virginia, Section 65.2-503 provides for compensation resulting from permanent loss, loss of use and disfigurement. Ratings for the back and neck are not recognized in Virginia, however, loss of use to the arms or legs as a result of a back or neck injury are recognized. The Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission will award benefits for disfigurement from scarring on the back and neck in addition to benefits for loss/loss of use of the arms and/or legs.
Here's how it works in Virginia: an arm is worth 200 weeks of compensation. A leg is worth 175 weeks of compensation. Using purely hypothetical numbers, and assuming uncontested ratings, if a person whose compensation rate is $500/week, loses 10% of the use of one arm as a result of a neck injury, they are entitled to 20 weeks (10% of 200 weeks) of compensation, or $10,000 in this example. The benefits would double if they also lost 10% of the use of the other arm. If they lose 10% of the use of one leg as a result of a back injury, they are entitled to 17.5 weeks (10% of 175) of compensation, or $8,750 in this example. Benefits double if they lost 10% of the use of each leg. As mentioned above, a worker can receive up to 60 weeks for severe, marked, disfigurement in Virginia, if the disfigurement is not to one of the rated body parts claimed.
It is important to understand that in Virginia this does not represent the settlement value of your case. Benefits for permanent loss and disfigurement are IN ADDITION TO medical benefits, wage loss benefits, and a myriad of other benefits. Insurance companies assess the settlement value of claims based on what they believe they will have to pay in the future for medical treatment, wage loss, permanent loss of use/disfigurement, vocational rehabilitation, and other benefits. Payment for permanent loss/loss of use/disfigurement can be obtained without settling the whole case.
It is also important to know that in Virginia, the insurer only pays up to 500 weeks (9.6 years) of wage loss and permanent loss/loss of use/disfigurement combined. Thereafter, it is possible, but very difficult and expensive, to obtain lifetime wage loss if a person can prove that they have significant loss of use to two or more extremities (arms or legs) such that the affected extremities cannot be used for purposes of gainful employment. Therefore, if your case were a Virginia claim, I would be looking very hard at whether you have significant loss/loss of use to two or more extremities such that the extremities cannot be used for purposes of gainful employment.
As mentioned above, ratings may be contested by the insurer. You may be sent to an insurance company doctor for what is called an "Independent Medical Evaluation," however it should be called a "Defense Medical Evaluation." These doctors are paid by the insurance company. They are not there to treat you or help you. They may be friendly, but they are not your friends. Look up Independent mMedical Evaluation on-line for more information. There is an excellent article with video from the New York Times titled "A World of Hurt: Exams of Injured Workers Fuel Mutual Mistrust" from about 3 years ago.
Last but not least, it is important to know that there may be time limitations associated with your claim for permanent loss/loss of use/disfigurement. In Virginia, a claim for permanent loss/loss of use/disfigurement must be made within three years of the last date through which compensation was paid, or your rights to those benefits will be forever lost. The limitation period may be longer or shorter in your state.
Because this can be very complicated, and every situation is unique, you should definitely consult with an attorney skilled in the field of workers compensation in the state where your claim is pending, and I recommend you do so IMMEDIATELY to avoid losing your rights with the passage of a limitation period.
You need to get a local Workers' Compensation attorney. No one can tell you what your injury is worth without reviewing your medical records and you skill set in combination with a labor market survey for your area. You need the guidance of an attorney to get anything approaching fair value.
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Mr. Candiano is licensed to practice law in Illinois and Indiana. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. You may contact the writer with these links: