If you suffered a permanent injury while on the job, you may be wondering what the average workers’ comp settlement amount is for your type of permanent partial disability.
Settlements can vary widely, but understanding the factors involved can help you better estimate what a fair settlement may be worth in your workers’ compensation case.
What is Permanent Partial Disability?
Permanent partial disability (PPD) is the most common basis for workers comp settlements. PPD means your injury causes permanent limitations but doesn’t completely prevent working. There are several key factors in PPD settlements:
- Type of injury and body part affected
- Degree of medical impairment and disability percentage
- Impact on the ability to earn the same wages
- Age and pre-injury occupation
PPDI benefits seek to replace lost earning capacity when you can’t fully return to your prior work. The higher your impairment rating and lost future earnings, the higher your settlement.
Why Permanent Partial Disability Settlements Are Complex
Average workers comp settlements for permanent partial disability cases can range quite a bit. Some estimates put the average between $20,000 and $31,000, but that’s just a rough estimate. The exact settlement amount depends on many factors, including:
- The state you live in
- The type and severity of the injury
- Which body part was injured
- Your age and wages
- Whether you can return to work
- How much medical treatment you needed
- If you have a permanent impairment and work restrictions
With so many variables, it’s impossible to pinpoint an “average” permanent partial disability settlement. However, understanding how these factors impact your potential settlement can help you determine if an offer seems fair or if you may be able to negotiate more.
How Permanent Partial Disability Is Calculated
Permanent partial disability (PPD) occurs when you suffer a permanent injury but can still work in some capacity. For example, you may have hurt your back and can no longer do heavy lifting but can still work a desk job. The disability rating system looks at how much your ability to earn wages has been reduced based on medical impairment and restrictions.
The disability rating is expressed as a percentage, and that percentage is then multiplied by your average weekly wage and by the number of weeks your state designates for that body part. This provides the potential compensation amount, which will then be a basis for negotiating your settlement.
So, a higher disability rating, combined with higher wages and more assigned weeks, means a higher potential settlement value.
What Determines Your Workers Comp Settlement Amount?
Many factors impact your potential worker’s comp settlement amount. These include:
Type and Severity of Your Injury
The type of injury and degree of impairment or disability significantly affects your payout. Permanent total disabilities result in the highest average settlements. Permanent partial disabilities are next. Temporary disabilities that allow the return to work have lower settlements. The more severe your impairment, the higher your potential payout.
Lost Earnings and Wage Replacement
A key purpose of workers comp is to replace lost income from your injury. Your settlement is based in part on the wages you can no longer earn due to disability. Higher pre-injury wages generally yield higher settlements.
Age and Occupation
Your age and occupation can impact your settlement value. Younger workers have more remaining working years, so future lost income is higher. Injuries preventing a return to your previous occupation can reduce future earnings more than an injury permitting a return to the same work.
Past and ongoing treatment expenses will factor into settlement calculations. Injuries requiring more care, therapy, and procedures usually warrant higher payouts.
State Workers Compensation Laws
Each state has its own statutes dictating benefits, settlement terms, and multipliers used to calculate cash amounts. Your location makes a major difference in the size of your settlement. Some states set maximum benefits, while others have no caps.
Hiring an experienced workers’ compensation attorney benefits most injured workers. Attorneys ensure proper calculation of compensation based on all factors. They negotiate for maximized settlements. Without legal help, insurers may offer less than your case deserves.
Average Settlement Amounts by Injury Type
While every case is different, looking at average workers comp settlements by injury type can give you a general idea of typical settlement ranges:
- Back injuries – Average settlements range widely from $20,000 to $61,000, depending on the severity. Lower-back injuries often rate higher than mid or upper-back injuries.
- Knee injuries – The average knee injury settlement is around $24,000 but can go up to $50,000 or more for serious injuries requiring surgery.
- Shoulder injuries – These average around $21,000 for more moderate injuries. Severe rotator cuff tears can receive settlements above $40,000.
- Neck injuries – Average settlements are around $25,000, but severe spinal injuries involving surgery can exceed $100,000.
- Wrist or elbow injuries – Average around $15,000 for fractures, sprains, or carpal tunnel syndrome. Amounts vary based on surgery needed and loss of range of motion.
- Ankle or foot injuries – Average approximately $20,000, but severe fractures requiring reconstructive surgery may exceed $40,000.
Remember, these are just general ballpark figures. The details of your specific injury will determine your settlement. These examples illustrate how factors like body part injuries and severity can impact average settlement amounts. Discuss your situation with an experienced workers’ comp attorney for a more accurate potential case valuation.
Getting a Fair Settlement Offer
In many cases, getting a fair settlement may require active negotiation on your part and the help of an experienced workers’ comp attorney. Some tips that can potentially increase your settlement offer include:
- Document your losses – Keep detailed records of lost income, medical expenses, costs related to injury, and impact on quality of life. The more evidence you have, the better.
- Get multiple doctor opinions – Having several doctors assess your injury and restrictions often results in a higher impairment rating, which boosts your claim value.
- Prove you can’t work your old job – If you can show you are physically unable to perform your pre-injury duties, it demonstrates lost earning capacity.
- Highlight permanent effects – The more documentation you have of long-term or permanent restrictions and impairment, the higher the potential settlement.
- Calculate estimated losses – Use wage statements, medical reports, and life expectancy to project and quantify future losses. Presenting this data strengthens your negotiating position.
- Wait until maximum medical improvement – Settling too early before your condition has stabilized often results in lower settlements.
Being proactive and doing your homework on case value can help ensure you ultimately receive a fair settlement commensurate with the permanent disability caused by your on-the-job injury.
Fighting for Maximum Settlement Value
Workers’ compensation insurers will often try to minimize settlement payouts, so having a workers’ comp attorney fighting for you is essential to receiving full compensation. An experienced attorney at O’Connor Law will help by:
- Make sure your doctors properly document impairment ratings and work restrictions caused by the injury. Higher impairment ratings mean higher settlements.
- Challenging any lowball impairment ratings assessed by insurance company doctors. This third-party assessment is crucial.
- Determining if your state’s disability rating system shortchanges your particular injury and fighting to get you an appropriate rating.
- Valuing your loss of future earnings potential and advocating for a fair lump-sum settlement.
- Negotiating persistently with the insurance company and taking your case to court if needed to maximize your payout.
Settling a workers’ comp permanent disability case is complex, so having the right legal advice can make a major difference in the settlement amount you ultimately receive.
Understanding Structured Workers Compensation Settlements
Rather than a lump-sum payout, your permanent partial disability settlement may be structured as periodic payments over your life expectancy. This provides you with a steady income to cover future medical care and lost wages related to your ongoing disability.
Structured settlements can benefit injured workers by providing:
- Steady guaranteed income to cover long-term effects of disability
- Avoidance of risky investments that may lose lump-sum payouts
- Tax advantages since payments are not taxed
However, structured settlements also have downsides, like a lack of access to a large lump sum for major expenses or other needs. Discuss with your attorney whether a structured settlement makes sense for your situation. Some key considerations are life expectancy, dependents, future medical costs, and your ability to manage finances.
Understanding how structured settlements work allows you to decide if this option is in your best interest or if advocating for a full lump-sum payment is better.
Should You Accept a Settlement Offer?
Before accepting a settlement, weigh the offer carefully. Consult a law firm experienced in workers’ compensation and personal injury claims to determine if it adequately covers financial losses. Make sure it takes into account all settlement factors.
Once settled, you cannot come back later and ask for more. However, you can negotiate if the offer seems insufficient. An experienced lawyer can advise you on getting a fair settlement.
- Average workers comp settlements range from $42,667 to $140,555 depending on disability type
- Many factors impact settlement amounts, including injury severity, lost income, and state laws
- Permanent partial disability is the most common settlement basis
- You can receive your payout via lump sum or structured payments over time
- Consult a workers’ compensation attorney at O’Connor Law in NY before accepting a settlement offer
Settlements provide important benefits for workers who suffer permanent disabilities due to workplace injuries. With an understanding of average settlement ranges and the factors involved, you can better evaluate the fairness of any workers comp settlement offer.