We receive dozens of calls every year asking us "How much is my back injury claim worth?" There is no cut and dried answer to this question because every case has different facts, but we will provide you with some general guidelines.
First of all, if you sustained a permanent back injury in Iowa then your PPD (permanent partial disability) compensation will be based upon 500 weeks of benefits. For example, if you have sustained 30% industrial disability (keep in mind this is different than your impairment rating) then you should receive 150 weeks of PPD (30% X 500 = 150 weeks) at your weekly workers' compensation rate. The PPD benefits are supposed to be paid back to the date you returned to work or if you did not return to work then when you were placed at MMI (maximum medical improvement).
What Are Common Factors for Determining Disability After a Back Injury?
Here are some common factors in determining what your industrial disability is for a back injury under the Iowa workers' compensation system:
- Education level
- Permanent impairment rating
- Permanent work restrictions
- Type of medical care you have had (e.g., lumbar fusion, lumbar laminectomy, injections, etc.)
- Current earnings
- Prior earnings
- Whether you returned to the same job as prior to your work injury
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that the insurance company will probably offer to pay your impairment rating only. Often they will send you a letter stating what your rating is, how much they have paid you in the past and how much they will pay you in the future.
For back injuries the impairment rating given can range from 0% to upwards of 25%, but remember it is only one of many factors. Rarely is the impairment rating all that you are owed and you should not sign any settlement documents for the insurance company to pay your impairment rating. The insurance company may offer to pay you a lump sum, plus a few thousand dollars for medical expenses if you close your file and settle your case. At the very least, you should consult with a qualified Iowa workers' compensation attorney before you agree to any settlement in your case because once your case is settled on a closed file, you will no longer have medical care and you will lose your right to petition the Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner for additional compensation.
What Should I Do If I Have a Back Injury and Have Questions?
If you or someone you know has been injured at work, Walker, Billingsley & Bair is here to help answer your questions. Iowa workers' compensation attorneys Corey J. L. Walker and Erik D. Bair practice primarily in work injury law. Corey offers a book about Iowa work injuries at no cost, risk or obligation. The book is called “Iowa Workers’ Compensation - An Insider’s Guide to Work Injuries” which includes 7 Deadly Mistakes to Avoid if You are Hurt at Work. To order your copy, click on the link above or Call Now 1-800-707-2552 (ext. 811) (24-Hour Recorded Message). Corey offers his Iowa work injury book at no cost because he has seen too many hard working Iowans from Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Ft. Dodge, Newton, Pella, and throughout the state of Iowa who were hurt at work make mistakes which cost them thousands of dollars. Iowans hurt at work are beginning to realize that the insurance company is not there to help them and that they should learn about Iowa's workers' compensation laws. Finally, there is a book about Iowa work injuries that you can review in the comfort of your own home. For immediate assistance or to schedule a no-cost Iowa workers' compensation evaluation, CALL 641-792-3595 and ask for Corey or Erik.