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Back Injury Settlements Under the Jones Act


How much are back injury settlements worth under the Jones Act? One of the most common injuries under the Jones Act is lower back injuries.

If you have suffered a neck, back, or spinal injury due to your work offshore, you probably want to know how much your injury is worth. Because the Jones Act is a federal statute, there is no specific settlement amount designated for each type of injury. 

How Much is a Lower Back Injury Worth?

In the past, we’ve had maritime settlement results anywhere from $550,000 to $1,400,000+ for a back injury. The settlements all depend on a variety of factors that influence the value of the claim.

However, if you have suffered a neck, back or spinal injury directly caused by your accident at work, you will be entitled to both pain and suffering and lost wages if you can no longer earn what you earned before the accident. The value of your case under the Jones Act generally depends on the severity and permanence of the injury or illness.  For example, if you did not require surgery, then the value of your case will typically be worth significantly less than if you did require surgery.

Factors That Affect the Value of a Lower Back Injury

  • How many surgeries you need
  • Whether you can go back to work
  • Whether you can get other high-paying jobs
  • Whether you previously had a back injury
  • Whether you’re a Jones Act Seaman
  • Whether you were partially at fault for your injury

What is a Fair Back Injury Settlement?

If you’re trying to get a sense of how much your back injury settlement should be, one way is to look at how much your medical care will cost. For instance, if your treatment will cost $20,000 but the company is only offering you $5000, then you can safely assume that the settlement offer isn’t going to cover what you need.

Back surgeries are certainly not one-size-fits-all; some of the following procedures are often combined with others. For instance, a surgeon will often perform a discectomy and a spinal fusion at the same time. The prices also change based upon the numbers of vertebrae involved in a procedure. However, the below estimated costs for common spinal procedures can help you determine if what you are being offered is even in the ballpark. Keep in mind is that these estimates do not include the costs of hospital stays, medications, or wages lost.

Average Est. Cost for Common Types of Back Surgeries
Anterior Cervical Fusion $44,000
Cervical Foraminotomy $14,580
Cervical Fusion $19,056
Discectomy $20,000 to $50,000
Disk Replacement $27,021
Facetectomy $8,000 to $12,000
Kyphoplasty (1 Level) $9,100
Kyphoplasty (2 Levels) $12,100
Kyphoplasty (3 Levels) $15,100
Laminectomy $24,487 to $90,000
Lumbar Discectomy $11,405
Lumbar Foraminotomy $14,580
Lumbar Fusion $26,000 to $80,518
Lumbar Discogram (1 Level) $1,250
Microdiscectomy (1 Level) $10,434
Morphine Pump Placement
(Includes placement and one year’s expenses)
$17,317
Radio Frequency Ablation (1 Nerve) $1,850
Radio Frequency Ablation (2 Nerves) $2,000
Radio Frequency Ablation (3 Nerves) $2,150
Sacro-iliac Fusion $39,780
Spinal Steroid Injections (ESI) $1,091

If you see that the above prices are well below what you are being offered, you may want to consider asking for a larger settlement. Again, these prices are estimates, so contacting your provider for an accurate analysis of your estimated costs is also wise.   

Three Reasons Why it May be Possible to Receive a Large Settlement for Your Back Injury

1) Any Serious Injury Can Prevent You from Returning to Work

Typically under the Jones Act, one of the largest components of damages is the lost wage component. A lower back injury under the Jones Act is generally made up of large amounts of future wages. If you have a lower back injury, you usually have trouble going back to work that requires heavy lifting, and therefore you are not able to make the kind of money you made before. Under the Jones Act and Maritime Law, the value of a neck, back, or spine injury is directly related to the extent of the physical limitations you experience due to the injury. If you are able to return to the same duties, you will likely receive the same compensation as before your injury.  However, if your injury presents physical limitations, like keeping you from doing heavy lifting on a rig or vessel, then it is likely you will make significantly less money. This factor will influence your settlement amount.

2) Serious Injuries Cause a lot of Pain

A lower back injury settlement under the Jones Act is also made up of pain and suffering. If you have a lower back injury, chances are you are in a lot of pain and so the amount of pain and suffering is going to be very significant.

3) Offshore Injuries Can be Expensive to Fix

It can be expensive to get surgery after you’ve been injured. For example, a lower back surgery can cost $50,000.00 to $75,000.00. There can also be future medical treatment or rehabilitation that’s needed. Because medical expenses are typically included in any type of Jones Act settlement or judgment, you could receive a significant amount to pay for these medical expenses.

See a list of our case results and the amounts that some of our other clients have received for their lower back injuries.

Keeping Your Options Open

Even if you don’t think you’ll pursue a claim, it’s always smart to keep your options open. Here are a couple of things you might want to do to preserve your rights following an injury:

  • Seek medical attention from a board-certified physician with no connection to your employer or their insurance provider.
  • Do not sign anything before your attorney has reviewed it. Employers and insurance companies will often try to offer you a cash settlement if you sign away your rights under the Jones Act.
  • Keep all medical records and receipts – your lawyer can use these to further your case. An attorney will need to see all past receipts and records to get an accurate understanding of what the employer already covered and what can be included in a claim: cost of prosthetics; cost of physical and/or occupational therapy; and surgical expenses. An attorney may need to consult with the treating physician to understand the expected future costs of treatment, as these can be included in the claim.
  •  Keep records of past income and other earnings. An attorney must see past records of income in order to gauge the full extent of lost wages. This includes the history of bonuses, raises and promotions. Also, be certain to talk to the attorney about other perks of the job including insurance, free housing, meals, and retirement funds. A Jones Act settlement can account for these benefits as well
  • Maintain any evidence from your accident that proves your company’s negligence, such as accident reports, witness statements, and photos from the scene.

At The Young Firm, we are 100% focused on Jones Act and Maritime Injury Law cases, and we understand claims like yours because we have handled so many of them.  We are well aware of the specific requirements that you, as a victim of a maritime accident, have, and we can help you recover your lost benefits and get you compensation for damages.  Schedule your free consultation today! If you have questions about the value of your Jones Act settlement or if you want to get started with your claim, contact a lawyer from The Young Firm at 504-680-4100.

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