Learn what a workers’ comp hip injury settlement might look like, different types of work-related hip injuries, and their respective medical treatments.
When we hear about hip injuries, we have a lot of stereotypes and preconceived notions. Maybe you think about elderly people slipping and falling. Or maybe you imagine people near the end of long, active careers with degenerative hip disease who need replacements.
Of course, no one can deny that those situations exist. But the truth is that anyone can get unlucky and suffer a hip injury. Sufficient trauma at the wrong time and place can cause problems in even the healthiest hips.
Acute hip injuries often happen in the workplace. Whether through a slip and fall accident, repetitive stress, a motor vehicle accident, or some combination of those factors, work-related hip injuries are painful and difficult to treat. This is especially true where an injury is so severe that the injury victim needs a hip replacement and the associated medical care.
What shouldn’t be difficult is getting the compensation that you need to keep the lights on and get back on your feet.
Unfortunately, the workers’ compensation system can be complicated. Figuring out how much you can receive for a lump-sum settlement is no easy task in the best of times. Pain and dire financial straits can make it even more difficult.
This article will examine different types of work-related hip injuries and their respective medical treatments. We’ll also look at some examples of what a workers’ comp claim for a hip injury might look like. Most importantly, we’ll estimate the amounts of workers’ comp hip injury settlements in different situations.
Workers’ Comp Settlements for Hip Injuries
As a rule, injuries that can be treated without surgery are going to settle for less — between $5,000 and $20,000. Temporary partial disability injuries that need surgery, but only restrict mobility slightly or for a short period of time, can settle for $20,000 to $40,000.
The injuries that prevent you from working (i.e., temporary total disability and permanent total disability) and require hip surgery are going to command the highest values.
Depending on the severity and any resulting permanent disability, these injury cases can be worth in excess of $50,000. As always, facts differ between cases. Consult a qualified attorney for factual analysis and legal advice about your specific workplace injury.
Fractured hips and similar injuries are extremely painful, but for some people, that’s not the worst of it. Because of their placement in the body, injured hips can either restrict your movement or prevent you from walking at all — for weeks or months at a time.
We’ll look at some of the more common types of work-related hip injuries, along with examples of potential workers’ compensation settlements for each type of injury claim.
Note: For wage disability benefits, workers’ comp usually pays two-thirds of average pre-injury income. Therefore, we’ll multiply lost wages by 0.67 to get an estimated wage benefit.
Hip Joint Labral Tear
One of the more common hip injuries resulting from trauma is a hip labral tear. In your hip, the labrum is a ring of cartilage that sits at the rim of your hip socket. It helps hold your femur in place and provides cushioning for both the bone and the hip socket.
Labral tear symptoms are on a spectrum with some people reporting little or no difference in their movement and pain level. Others have a great deal of pain, stiffness, and difficulty walking. A torn labrum can also cause your leg to “lock up” or painfully grind in the hip socket.
The labrum can be torn during a car accident or a slip and fall. People who lead particularly active lifestyles or play certain sports are also more susceptible to hip labral tears.
Treatment for hip labral tears is usually conservative, consisting of medications, steroid shots, and physical therapy. In particularly severe cases, arthroscopic surgery may be necessary. This surgery is fairly expensive, costing between $5,000 and $9,000.
Example: On-the-Job Car Crash Causes Labral Tear
Derrick is a 24 year-old part-time student who works as a runner for a law firm in Los Angeles, California. His job requires that he spend a lot of time in the car, driving between courthouses, law offices, and other locations in the city to deliver items, file papers, and similar tasks for the attorneys at his law firm. He makes $14 per hour.
One day, while driving to the federal courthouse in downtown LA to file a document, Derrick’s car is T-boned by a distracted driver. Though Derrick does not have any broken bones, his hip hurts considerably, and he has trouble walking.
After he gets checked out at the hospital, he learns he has a labral tear. He misses work for 3 weeks while he heals and learns to walk with the support of a cane. He then returns to work but still has pain and mobility issues.
Derrick’s doctor recommends quarterly steroid shots for at least the next year, in addition to 6 months of physical therapy. In the doctor’s opinion, Derrick will not need surgery, so he keeps his medical bills smaller.
Medical expenses: (hospital, doctors, and X-rays) $3,000
Lost wages benefit: ($560 per week × 3 weeks × 0.67) $1,125
Cortisone shots: (4 per year for 1 year at $100 each) $400
Physical therapy: (3 times per week for 26 weeks at $200 per session): $15,600
Estimated workers’ comp settlement value: $20,125
In addition to his workers’ compensation injury claim, Derrick has the right to pursue a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Derrick can demand all his compensatory damages, including the full amount of his lost wages, property damage, and compensation for his pain and suffering.
Workers’ Comp Settlements for a Fractured Hip
In terms of work-related disability, pain and overall disruption to one’s life, a fractured hip is much more serious than a hip labral tear.
This type of injury needs little explanation and can include fractures of the upper femur as well as the hip joint itself.
Keep in mind that hip fractures do not always happen in a vacuum. In other words, older adults, or people who have osteoporosis can particularly be at risk for hip fractures.
Even if the injured worker has a pre-existing condition that made them more vulnerable to hip injuries, otherwise eligible workers are still entitled to workers’ compensation coverage.
This is important because a workers’ compensation insurance company may doubt that a work-related injury actually caused the fracture. If your claim is denied, you may need a workers’ comp lawyer to help you get the benefits you’re entitled to.
Example: Fractured Hip from Workplace Slip and Fall
Jeanne is a 38 year-old adjuster for an insurance carrier located in Texas. She makes an annual salary of $55,000. Jeanne is in excellent physical health and has never broken a bone before in her life.
Jeanne’s office has a kitchen where she eats lunch every day. One day, a pipe bursts underneath the kitchen sink and leaks water all over the floor. Jeanne, on her way to the refrigerator to get lunch, steps onto the wet floor without noticing and skids halfway across the kitchen before colliding violently with a heavy table, which then falls on her legs.
Jeanne’s femur is broken and driven through her pelvis, a condition known as an acetabular hip fracture. She is rushed to the hospital and, due to the severity of the injury, requires immediate surgery. Given the scope of the injury, her emergency surgery costs $30,000. She is then in the hospital for a week afterward.
Jeanne will not be able to work for 11 weeks while she recovers from surgery. She will also need a year of physical therapy, twice a week.
Medical expenses: (surgery, hospital stay, doctors, and imaging) $42,500
Lost wages benefit: ($1,058 per week × 11 weeks × 0.67) $7,797
Physical therapy: (2 times per week for 52 weeks at $200 per session) $20,800
Estimated workers’ comp settlement value: $71,097
Important Facts About Workers’ Comp Settlements
Workers’ compensation benefits won’t replace the full amount of an injured employee’s wages. Wage replacement typically covers about two-thirds of the injured worker’s average pre-injury wage.
You won’t get any compensation for pain and suffering from workers’ comp. However, in specific circumstances, such as egregious negligence, you may have the right to sue your employer for a work injury. In a personal injury lawsuit, you can demand compensation for all your damages, including pain and suffering as well as your full wages.
What You Should Know About Medical Benefits
Workers’ comp insurance will only cover reasonable and necessary medical expenses from approved medical providers. Your doctor must document the need for surgery, and justify the amount of time you are excused from work.
Depending on your state’s laws, the workers’ compensation company can refuse to cover chiropractic care, acupuncture, or other “alternative” treatments.
Most insurance companies will ask you to waive your right to any future medical care as part of the settlement. If you waive medical benefits, you can’t go back to workers’ comp for more money if you develop medical complications later in life.
So, if you’re thinking about settling your workers’ compensation case for a lump sum payment, it’s important to figure out the cost of your future medical care and include those expenses in the final settlement amount.
Settlements for Permanent Work Injuries
Your work injury may have left you with a permanent partial disability (most common) or a permanent total disability.
Federal and most states’ workers’ compensation programs use a loss-of-use schedule of injuries to calculate permanent disability settlements. The schedule allocates a specific number of wage benefit weeks for each body part or function.
You or your workers’ compensation lawyer can ask for a scheduled settlement award after you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI means your doctor thinks your hip injury won’t get any better with treatment. After reaching MMI, your doctor will determine an impairment rating based on the percentage of your permanent disability.
For example, if you live in the state of New York the maximum award for a hip/leg injury is 288 weeks. The settlement is calculated by using the worker’s weekly wage benefit and the impairment rating. If you have a 50% impairment rating, you would get 144 weeks of wage benefits. If your workers’ comp weekly wage benefit is $500. Your wage settlement would be 144 x $500 = $72,000.
Getting Back on Your Feet
Hip injuries are particularly nasty. They can stop you in your tracks, with you unable to do anything but engage in painful physical therapy.
While there is not much that can be done to speed the healing process, you can work on making sure you get the best, fairest compensation as part of your workers’ compensation settlement.
If you or a loved one have suffered a hip injury at work, take action as soon as possible.
You don’t want to miss your state’s filing deadlines for a workers’ compensation claim. And because these issues are often complicated and drawn out, you should speak with a workers’ compensation attorney in your state for a free consultation.
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