Injured Back at Work – Compensation and Payout Guide.
If you’ve injured your back at work from lifting, carrying, pulling, pushing, bending, twisting, or even just sitting for long periods, compensation provides a safety net to pay your medical costs and cover your wages while you’re off work. But the biggest mistake people make with back injury claims is thinking they’ll automatically receive their full entitlements. It’s quite common for back injury claims to be denied, and many people fail to claim additional lump sums they’re entitled to.
Whether you’re about to make a claim or you think you might be missing out on benefits, read on to learn how to make sure you receive all the back injury compensation and lump sums you’re entitled to.
Claiming compensation for a back injury at work – what you need to know.
Following a back injury at work, the first steps are to visit your GP to have your injuries assessed and report your injury to your employer. Your employer should inform their workers compensation insurer.
But once a back injury compensation claim has been lodged, many people come to us for help with one of these three situations:
1. You’re receiving benefits for your back injury, but you want to know if there are additional benefits or lump sums you’re entitled to.
This is a very common question, and we find that many of our back injury clients are entitled to lump sums they haven’t been told about.
2. You’ve been receiving back injury compensation benefits, but you’ve had part of your claim denied or benefits cut off.
This is also a common situation. We’ve had many clients come to us because they’ve had essential surgery or treatment denied by an insurer.
3. Your back injury claim was rejected.
Claims are often rejected on the basis that the back injury wasn’t caused by a work accident or was a pre-existing condition.
Whether you’re about to submit a claim or you fall into one of these three categories, read on to learn how to get your full entitlements.
Workers compensation – back injury compensation payouts.
If you’ve injured your back at work in NSW and you make a claim for workers compensation, the following table outlines what you may be eligible to claim:
|Workers Compensation Payments NSW||Description|
|Weekly payments||These are payments to compensate you for lost income while you’re off work recovering from your back injury.|
|Medical expenses||Payment of your medical, hospital, ambulance, rehabilitation (including home help) and travel expenses.|
|Permanent Impairment payout||A lump sum compensation payout to cover a permanent impairment as a result of your back injury.|
|Work Injury Damages payout||Also known as a common law claim, this is a lump sum payout for damages if your back injury was caused by your employer’s negligence.|
Permanent impairment and work injury damages for back injuries are not paid to you automatically; you need to apply for them separately, even if you’re already receiving weekly benefits.
Common back injuries that qualify for workers compensation settlements/payouts.
We’ve settled literally thousands of workers compensation back injury claims. Here are some of the most common enquiries and claims:
Lower back injury settlements
Lower back sprains and strains are common in work environments that involve lifting, bending, twisting, or even sitting in the same position for extended periods. Lower back injury claims make up a significant portion of workers compensation payouts.
Lumbar radiculopathy/sciatica workers compensation settlements
We receive a lot of enquiries about workers compensation for radiculopathy/sciatica. Sciatica is a common complaint, and the key to claiming a sciatica workers compensation settlement is proving that the condition is work-related.
Lumbar strain workers compensation settlements
A lumbar strain can result from a sudden injury or from gradual overuse, which is why we see lumbar strain workers compensation claims from both accidents and wear and tear-related injuries.
Herniated disc workers compensation settlements
Herniated discs and ruptured discs are common back injuries in work environments where heavy lifting is required, so it’s no surprise that herniated discs often result in workers compensation claims and settlements.
Back surgery workers compensation payouts
Back surgery would generally indicate a major work injury, significant medical costs, and time off work. So back surgery workers compensation settlements can be significant and often run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Spinal stenosis workers compensation settlements
The most common cause of spinal stenosis is osteoarthritis, the gradual wear and tear that happens to your joints over time. We see a lot of clients whose work has aggravated, accelerated, or exacerbated their pre-existing osteoarthritis. This still qualifies as a work injury despite the pre-existing condition.
What’s the average payout for a back injury at work?
In the last financial year, 100,688 workers compensation claims were submitted in NSW, and $4.57 billion was paid out in benefits and lump sums. That’s $45,433 for every new claim submitted.*
However, back injury claims are likely to be higher than the average claim, especially if they involve significant time off work or surgery. For example, one of our clients had a back injury that required surgery and was caused by employer negligence that resulted in a back injury payout of more than half a million dollars (see example below).
*According to SIRA Open Data, October 2023
Back injury payout example: Builder injured at work awarded $580,383.
Peter* was carrying a large steel beam with a colleague who unintentionally let go – forcing all the weight to shift onto Peter and causing a serious back injury that required fusion surgery.
We managed his claim and in addition to the weekly benefits Peter received to cover his treatment and wages while he was off work, we got Peter’s surgery approved and claimed a lump sum payout for permanent impairment that amounted to just under $60,000.
We also built the evidence to show Peter met the threshold to bring a work injury damages claim against his employer. This resulted in an additional $328k lump sum payout for Peter’s past and future economic loss.
Here’s a summary of Peter’s total workers compensation settlement for his back injury:
|Weekly benefits and surgery||$192,374|
|Permanent impairment lump sum||$59,570|
|Work injury damages lump sum||$328,439|
*Name has been changed to protect our client’s identity.
What’s the average settlement for spinal fusion surgery workers compensation?
We’re often asked this question. You can see from the example above that our client received a settlement of $580,383 for an injury that required spinal fusion surgery. However, there’s no way to accurately predict the average settlement for spinal fusion surgery workers compensation because settlement amounts depend on factors like your age and capacity to return to work after surgery.
Also, as you can see from the example above, if the work accident was caused by employer negligence and there’s a work injury damages claim, this can add literally hundreds of thousands to the settlement.
Can I claim a lump sum for my back injury?
There are two ways you may qualify for lump sums:
Permanent impairment lump sum – you can claim this if your permanent impairment rating is assessed as 11% or more.
Many people with back injuries miss out on permanent impairment lump sums because they don’t meet the impairment rating threshold of 11%. But if your assessment wasn’t done thoroughly and fails to consider the full impact of your injury, it could be incorrect.
Work injury damages – a lump sum payout for damages if your back injury was caused by your employer’s negligence.
To make a work injury damages claim for a back injury, you need a workers compensation lawyer with experience in back injury claims to build the evidence that your employer’s negligence caused your accident.
If you think you’ve missed out on a lump sum you’re entitled to (for example, your permanent impairment wasn’t assessed correctly) or you need help with your claim you can call 13 15 15 for free legal advice.
Common questions and answers on back injury workers compensation.
- Back injury claims should generally be submitted within 6 months
- This can be extended to 3 years in certain circumstances
- This can be more than 3 years if it relates to an injury resulting in death or serious and permanent impairment
- If a period greater than 3 years has passed since the accident then a claim may still be made with SIRA approval
The first step is to get a medical assessment to identify the cause of your back pain. Once you’ve got a diagnosis, you’ll need to show that your work caused the injury or was a contributing factor to be eligible for workers compensation.
If you have to stop work altogether, you may be eligible for an additional lump sum through your superannuation. Most Australians are covered, although many don’t know they have this insurance included in their super.
If you’re not sure whether you’re covered, you can call 13 15 15 and we’ll find out for you. It’s a free service.
If your back injury claim is denied, there are ways we can dispute the insurer’s decision for you. We have a strong track record in getting claim denials overturned and you can get free legal advice on your options by calling 13 15 15.
Back injury workers compensation lawyers.
Back injury claims can be complex. In many cases, back injuries lead to other complications, and some can worsen over time. So it’s important that your injuries are assessed and your claim is prepared thoroughly to make sure you receive absolutely everything you’re entitled to.
At Law Partners, we take time to get to know you personally. We look at what your life was like prior to your back injury, then we look at what’s changed. It’s this more personal approach that’s earned us a strong reputation for winning more compensation for our clients. We work on a no win no fee basis, and we win over 99% of our cases.
An accredited specialist in personal injury law, backed by over 15 years’ experience in assisting injured Australians receive everything they’re entitled to with their workers compensation claim.