The question – how much money will workers’ compensation payout for a lower back injury? – maybe difficult to answer. There is no definite amount that workers’ compensation will pay out for a back injury. The best way to accurately predict the amount you are likely to receive in a settlement is to have a lawyer assess the facts of your case and the nature of your lower back injury. You may also look at several data-driven studies that have determined the average workers’ compensation settlement amounts for back injuries.

Common Causes of Occupational Back Injuries

Virtually all professions carry some back injury risks. The risk is higher for occupations that involve constant strain, repetitive movements, and force.

Construction, agriculture, and factory workers are more susceptible to back injuries like herniated discs. The reason is that these workers are frequently lifting or operating heavy machinery. 

Inactivity is another common, yet less known, cause of back injury. Desk jobs requiring you to spend countless hours sitting might not seem strenuous, but they usually take a toll on your body. UCLA Spine Center reports that sitting for long periods can be a leading cause of back pain, neck pain, and tight and painful back muscles. Incorrect posture and insufficient back support can exert too much pressure on the spinal ligaments and discs. 

A back injury can present itself in various ways. You might experience excruciating, continuous pain. Alternatively, you might experience mild, occasional pain. The back injury may leave you with temporary impairment or lasting health problems. 

What Are the Most Common On-the-Job Back and Spinal Cord Injuries?

Workplace incidents and accidents cause many types of back injuries. They include injuries stemming from overuse and repetitive strain. They also include spinal cord injuries arising from falls, crashes, blows to the spine, and other accidents. The following are the most common back and spinal cord injuries:

Lifting, Lowering, and Twisting Back Injuries 

You can sustain debilitating back strain if your job requires you to lift, lower, or twist repeatedly. After developing this debilitating back strain, even slight movements might send a sharp pain down your spine. 


This injury develops when the nerve roots in the lower back get irritated. This irritation stems from a condition called foraminal stenosis – basically the narrowing of nerve roots’ pathway. The narrowing pinches the nerve roots, resulting in sharp pain, numbness, and general weakness. 

Spinal Stenosis 

This back injury develops due to spinal canal narrowing, which exerts excessive pressure on crucial spinal nerves. The spinal canal can narrow due to the thickening of ligaments and cartilage in the canal. It can also narrow when excessive bone growth makes the opening thinner over time. 

Workers aged 50 years or more are likely to develop spinal stenosis because of decades of exposing the spine to stress. Another potentially contributing risk factor is bone and tissue weakening with years of repeated use. A worker of any age can develop spinal stenosis due to a spine injury.

Lumbar Strains, Sprains, or Fractures 

These injuries affect the lower back. They can arise from slip and fall in the workplace or work-related accidents.

Herniated Disc 

A herniated disc is one of the leading causes of lower back pain. The pain sometimes can extend to the legs. It occurs when the jelly-like nucleus of a disc presses against its outer ring because of an injury or age-related wear and tear. This tremendous force against the ring may result in lower back pain. 

If left untreated, the nucleus may break through the outer ring of the disc or cause it to distend. The outcome will be exposure of the spinal cord and surrounding nerve roots to excessive pressure. The disc may leak some chemical irritants, causing nerve irritation. An irritated nerve root may cause shooting pain, lack of sensitivity, or fatigue in one or both of your legs. 

What Is the Average Workers’ Compensation Settlement for a Back Injury?

If you have sustained a work-related lower back injury, you might wonder how much money workers’ compensation will pay for a lower back injury. The settlement amount required to cover all your damages will depend on the severity of your injury. In Illinois, you may be entitled to temporary total disability benefits through workers’ comp if your lower back injury keeps you from working or causes limitations your employer cannot accommodate. You may also be eligible for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits if your injury satisfies a listing in the disability blue book

However, as mentioned earlier, it’s hard to estimate the accurate value of your workers’ comp claim without knowing the specific details of your case and injury severity. The following average workers’ comp payouts can give you an idea of what workers have collected in the past few years. 

The average back injury settlement ranged from $20,000 to $25,000 in 2016. While around three-quarters of all claimants ultimately get workers’ compensation, it takes at least a year and half to get it. Those were the findings of a 2016 study.

The National Council of Compensation and Insurance (NCCI) also looked at various workers’ comp settlement amounts for back injuries. The NCCI study found the average lower back injury workers’ compensation settlement was $37,000. The same study found the average upper back injury compensation was $33,000. 

Data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) shows that the average back injury settlement ranges from $40,000 to $80,000 per employer. This amount comprises medical treatment and expenses, lost wages, and vocational rehabilitation services offered while the case is still open. 

What Will Determine Your Lower Back Injury Settlement Amount? 

Every lower back injury case is different. Circumstances will vary from one case to another. These differences will eventually impact the workers’ comp settlement amount for a lower back injury. The settlement amount for a severely herniated disc will be much higher than that of a mild lumbar sprain. The following factors will impact the value of your lower back injury case: 

Injury Type and Severity 

The settlement amount you are likely to receive will depend on the nature of your lower back injury and its severity. Severe back injuries require costly and prolonged medical treatment and rehabilitation. They may also cause more lost time at work and could result in long-term disability. As such, they tend to receive higher payouts. 

Inability to Return to Work Because of the Injury 

If you cannot return to work because of your lower back injury, your settlement will include payments to cover your lost income. The more time off work, the higher your workers’ compensation payout. 

Medical Costs 

Your settlement will include any medical bills or ongoing medical costs arising from your work-related injury. Medical expenses may include medications, surgeries, physical therapy, in-home care, and rehabilitation. 


A disability could arise from a lower back injury. If you develop a permanent disability, your settlement amount will be higher than that of a person with a temporary disability. 

Pre-injury Average Weekly Wage 

The amount of money you earned per week before your injury is crucial in determining the benefits you are likely to collect in Illinois. The higher your pre-injury average weekly wage, the higher your settlement amount. 

Legal Help and Representation

A workers’ compensation attorney can negotiate a higher settlement amount with the insurer than you could do by yourself. You will still remain with a reasonable compensation even after deducting attorney’s fees from your settlement. A national survey found that injured workers who had involved workers’ comp attorneys got about 30% higher compensation than their counterparts without legal support.