The Average Workers Compensation Settlement for a Back Injury

by Timothea Xi; Updated September 26, 2017

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of 2010, back injuries accounted for almost 20 percent of all injuries in private industry, more than any other injury to a body part.

Healthcare and hospitality products manufacturer The Encompass Group notes as of 2010 that the average cost of workers' compensation claims for back injuries was $40,000 to $80,000 per employee.

Average Costs Per Claim

The National Safety Council compiles workers' compensation statistics in its Injury Facts publication, classifying back-injury-related workers' compensation claims according to whether the injury occurred to the lower or upper back.

It also looks at specific industries individually to notate how many injuries occurred within each industry. It tabulates how many back injuries resulted in a given year across fields as disparate as educational and health services, government and leisure and hospitality.

Upper Back

As of Injury Facts' 2013 data, total costs per claim to the upper back were almost $34,000.

Lower Back

During the same time frame, workers' comp claims for the lower back amounted to almost $40,000, or higher than the average cost for injuries to various body parts.

Multiple Body Parts

If the back was injured in conjunction with other body parts, the cost of the claim surpassed $54,000, according to the same survey.

Other Factors in a Settlement

Cause of Injury

The ultimate cost of the settlement can also be affected by how the back injury occurred. As per Injury Facts 2013, a fall/slip injury cost over $6,000 more than one caused by being struck. Injury due to a car accident amounted to almost $70,000.

Characteristics of Injury

The disposition of the back injury is another factor in the eventual cost of the settlement. Claims for injuries resulting in fractures or crushing were almost $7,000 more expensive than those producing other trauma.

Forms of Back Injury Settlement

Permanent Partial/Total Disability

As legal information resource Nolo notes, if a back injury is permanent, the level of impairment does not have to be on the level of a disability for the person to receive permanent partial disability. To be sufficient for PPD, work restrictions can be limiting in the following manner:

  • no walking on uneven surfaces
  • no sitting down for more than two hours at a time 

To derive a settlement, an insurance company takes a disability rating--a percentage designating the level of disability as determined by a doctor. Depending on how your state handles this rating, the rating can either specify a certain number of weeks of compensation you are entitled to, or an exact dollar amount.

Total permanent disability can involve life pension payouts in addition to PPD.

Temporary Partial/Total Disability

Also called time loss compensation, temporary disability compensates you for lost wages during a given period of recovery. If the company or its insurer fails to pay or does not do so in a timely manner, your employer may also have to pay late penalties.


  • As Nolo advises, unless your disability rating is 10 percent or less, you would do well to hire a workers' comp attorney to ensure you obtain the highest possible settlement for your occupational back injury. Because a settlement does not become finalized until reviewed by a workers' comp judge, who has leeway to change it based on the settlement's fairness, a workers' comp attorney can help with gotchas such as reductions in Social Security disability benefits.

About the Author

Timothea Xi has been writing business and finance articles since 2013. She has worked as an alternative investment adviser in Miami, specializing in managed futures. Xi has also worked as a stockbroker in New York City.