The average value of a workers’ comp settlement for a herniated disc is difficult to determine because a claim’s value will be determined by the specific damages you sustain. The amount of the settlement can vary greatly depending on the facts of the case, such as the circumstances of the accident and how the injuries will affect your life. A workers’ comp claim for a herniated disc may resolve for as high as $1,000,000 or as low as $1,000.
If you sustained a herniated disc on the job, it is best to seek legal advice from a workers’ compensation attorney who can help you navigate the legal system and negotiate a settlement on your behalf. He or she will be able to evaluate your specific case and give you a better idea of what type of settlement you may be able to receive.
What Is a Herniated Disc?
A herniated disc, also known as a slipped or ruptured disc, occurs when the soft center of a spinal disc pushes through a crack in the tougher exterior casing. This can cause pain, numbness, or weakness in the area of the body where the affected nerve travels. Herniated discs are most commonly seen in the lower back or neck, but they can occur anywhere along the spine.
Common Causes of Herniated Discs
One of the most common causes of herniated discs is the natural aging process. As we get older, the discs in our spine lose some of their water content and become less flexible, making them more prone to injury. Additionally, the outer layer of the disc can become weaker over time, which can make it easier for the soft tissue inside to bulge out.
Another common cause of herniated discs is poor posture or body mechanics. When we sit, stand, or move in certain ways, we put stress on our spine and its supporting structures. If we consistently put our spine under stress, it can cause the discs to become damaged and eventually herniate. This is especially true for people who spend a lot of time sitting or lifting heavy objects, as these activities can put a lot of strain on the lower back.
Injuries and trauma can also cause herniated discs. A sudden impact, such as a fall or car accident, can cause the discs to rupture or bulge out of place. Additionally, lifting heavy objects or twisting the spine awkwardly can cause the same type of damage. Athletes and people who engage in high-impact activities are particularly at risk for herniated discs due to the strain that these activities can put on the spine.
Genetics can also play a role in the development of herniated discs. Some people are born with a predisposition to weak or damaged discs, which can make them more susceptible to injury. Additionally, certain genetic conditions, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, can affect the structure and strength of the connective tissues in the body, including those in the spine.
Lifestyle factors, such as obesity and smoking, can also increase the risk of developing a herniated disc. Excess body weight puts extra pressure on the spine and its supporting structures, which can cause damage over time. Smoking, on the other hand, can decrease blood flow to the discs, which can make them more vulnerable to injury.
Treatment for a Herniated Disc
The treatment for a herniated disc depends on the severity of the condition and the specific symptoms experienced by the individual. In many cases, herniated discs can be treated with conservative measures, such as rest, physical therapy, and pain medication. However, in more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to alleviate the symptoms and prevent further damage to the spine. Common treatments for a herniated disc include:
- Rest: Resting the affected area can help to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. This may involve avoiding certain activities or using a brace to support the spine.
- Physical therapy: A physical therapist can develop a customized exercise program that can help to strengthen the muscles supporting the spine and improve flexibility.
- Pain medication: Over-the-counter or prescription pain medication may be recommended to help alleviate pain associated with the herniated disc.
- Epidural injections: An injection of anti-inflammatory medication into the space around the spinal cord may help to reduce pain and inflammation in the affected area.
- Surgery: Surgery may include procedures such as a discectomy, microdiscectomy, or spinal fusion. Discectomy involves removing the portion of the disc that is bulging out and pressing on nearby nerves. Microdiscectomy is a less invasive form of discectomy that involves making a small incision and using a microscope to remove the damaged portion of the disc. A spinal fusion involves fusing two or more vertebrae together in order to stabilize the spine and prevent further damage.
Surgery is typically only recommended for severe cases of herniated discs that have not responded to conservative treatment options. Surgery also comes with potential risks and complications, so it should only be considered after careful evaluation by a medical professional. In addition to medical treatment, lifestyle changes may also be recommended to help alleviate symptoms of a herniated disc. This may include maintaining a healthy weight, practicing good posture, and avoiding activities that put excessive strain on the spine.
Types of Workers Who Are at Risk of a Herniated Disc Injury
A herniated disc injury can happen to anyone, regardless of occupation or lifestyle. However, there are workers who are at higher risk for this type of injury due to the physical demands of their jobs. If you do suffer a herniated disc injury while at work, you may want to consider filing a workers’ compensation claim. Some examples of jobs that may be at an increased risk of a herniated disc injury include:
- Construction workers
- Nurses and healthcare workers
- Truck and delivery drivers
- Office workers
- Manual laborers
Workers in the construction industry are at a higher risk of herniated discs due to the heavy lifting, bending, and twisting involved in their work. Carrying heavy objects, operating heavy machinery, and working in awkward positions can all put a lot of strain on the spine.
Healthcare workers are also at a higher risk of herniated discs due to the amount of time they spend on their feet and the amount of lifting and transferring of patients that is required in their job. Healthcare workers may also be injured due to the repetitive bending and lifting involved in patient care.
Workers who spend a lot of time driving may be at risk for herniated discs due to the prolonged sitting and vibration of the vehicle. Delivery drivers may be required to lift and move heavy objects, which can put additional strain on the spine.
While office workers may not be engaged in heavy lifting or manual labor, they can still be at risk of herniated discs due to poor posture and extended periods of sitting. Slouching, hunching over a computer, and sitting in an uncomfortable chair can all put strain on the spine over time.
Workers in industries such as manufacturing, warehouse and assembly work, and agriculture are at a higher risk of herniated discs due to the repetitive motions, heavy lifting, and awkward positions required in their jobs.
Average Workers’ Comp Settlement for a Herniated Disc
The calculation of a workers’ compensation settlement for a herniated disc injury will depend on several factors, including the severity of the injury, the extent of the medical treatment required, and the impact of the injury on the employee’s ability to work. Some of the factors that are typically considered when calculating a workers’ compensation settlement include:
- Medical expenses: The cost of medical treatment, including doctor’s visits, diagnostic tests, surgery, physical therapy, and medication, will be considered in the calculation of the settlement.
- Lost wages: The amount of income that the employee has lost as a result of the injury will be considered. This may include past and future lost wages.
- Permanent disability: If the employee has suffered a permanent disability as a result of the herniated disc injury, this will be factored into the settlement calculation. The degree of permanent disability will be determined by a medical professional.
- Vocational rehabilitation: If the employee is unable to return to their previous job due to the herniated disc injury, vocational rehabilitation may be required. The cost of this rehabilitation will be factored into the settlement calculation.
The calculation of a workers’ compensation settlement for a herniated disc injury can be complex, and may require the input of medical professionals, vocational rehabilitation specialists, and other experts. An Illinois workers’ compensation attorney can help answer question such as: “does workers’ comp apply before and after work?” A workers’ comp attorney can also ensure your rights are protected and that you receive a fair settlement.