What Should I Expect from the Insurance After Back Surgery?


I herniated 2 disks at work on 3-14-02. My doctor felt it best to operate on only one, which was done on 5-8-02. I am scheduled to return to work in Sept. What should I be expecting from the insurance company? I work for a major airline.

–David, Belvidere, IL


Let’s review your situation. First, you had an on-the-job injury. Second, you had surgery which the employer is paying for. Third, the employer is probably paying you temporary compensation of 2/3rds of your weekly wage. I assume all that. If I am wrong, let me know.
What should you expect? You should expect an offer to settle your claim by the insurance company at the lowest amount of money that they think they can sucker you into. The more they can manipulate you, the more money they make, the more bonuses they make, the happier their bosses are and everyone gets a raise and you get screwed.
You will need to rehabilitate and make sure that you are at maximum medical improvement and stability before you entertain any settlement possibilities. Two herniated discs, depending on where they are, can lead to a chronic painful condition and potentially multiple operations. There are many questions to evaluate. Should you undergo 1) retraining; 2) vocational rehabilitation; 3) look for a wage differential? These are all devices to protect you and which you need to take advantage of if needed.
You can go it on your own and the insurance carrier will appreciate that and get .00001 percent wealthier because you did so. I would suggest you retain an attorney and have yourself protected before you get yourself into potentially serious trouble with a life-long injury with unknown ramifications. I can assure you that the insurance company pays its people to convince you that is the right way to go.
As for settlement value, it would be a disservice and a lie for me to try to evaluate that until you are at maximum medical improvement and your condition has stabilized. Then, your functional capacities have to be evaluated. You need to be protected. In exchange, your giving up a modest 20% (far less than the extra compensation you will recover).
Get a lawyer, please, for your own sake.