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Payout of a Herniated Disc – Workers Compensation Claim in WA
Maximum Bulging Disc Compensation Amount
This summary focuses on statutory workers compensation settlements for bulging disc compensation. In the Western Australian workers compensation system, there is a limited amount of compensation available. In the year commencing 1 July 2020 a brief summary of the benefits available for a workers compensation claim were as follows:
- Maximum Amount for Workers compensation weekly payments and monies for permanent impairment (Note can be extended where a person is permanently totally incapacitated) is $235,971.00
- Maximum Amount for Medical Expenses (Note this is often extended by an additional $50,000.00) is $70,791.00
- Maximum Amount for Vocational Rehabilitation is $16,518.00
Factors Affecting Bulging Disc Workers Comp Settlement
The payout for a herniated disc is largely determined by several factors including the following:
- The extent of the spinal disc protrusion verified by scan such as a MRI scan or CT scan;
- Whether the bulging disc injury is accepted by medical specialists as being caused by a work injury or whether it is caused (or partially caused) by pre-existing degeneration to the spinal column;
- Whether surgery has taken place and how many surgical interventions have taken place;
- The effect on the intervertebral discs and whether the injured person has persisting radiculopathy;
- Whether settlement is achieved though the statutory workers compensation system or as part of a common law claim;
- The rate of workers compensation weekly payments (the amount paid each week);
- Whether the injured person is unable to work in his or her pre-injury work or in other jobs for which they are suited by way of education training and experience.
Whole Persons Impairment Rating for Bulging Disc Compensation Claim
Your WPI, whole person impairment rating has a significant impact on the bulging disc workers comp settlement amount.
The ‘whole person impairment’ of a person with a herniated disc largely depends on whether the injured person has undergone surgery, how many surgical interventions, what kind of surgery and whether radiculopathy (nerve problems) persist. The following examples relate to the lumbar spine:
- DRE Category II: Generally, the injured person has not undergone surgery. Typical WPI for a bulging disc without surgery is 5 – 7% WPI. The typical payout for this type of herniated disc injury is $14, 742.26 – $20,653.33.
- DRE Category II: Generally, the injured person has undergone surgical decompression for spinal stenosis, operations where the radiculopathy has resolved. Typical WPI for a bulging disc this type of surgery is 10 – 15% WPI. The typical payout for this type of herniated disc injury is $29,502.23 – 20,653.33.
- DRE Category IV: Generally, the injured person has undergone Fusion Procedure or Disc Replacement Procedure. Typical WPI for a bulging disc this type of surgery is 20 – 27% WPI. The typical payout for this type of herniated disc injury is $58,986.76 – $79,640.10.
If a person has a persisting bulging disc and the effect on the nerve roots results in daily pain then it is likely that the injured person will receive the maximum available which is $235,971.00 either through workers compensation weekly payments or through a settlement. It is often difficult to prove that injured people are permanently totally incapacitated as generally there will at least be an argument that an injured person has some capacity for other employment.
Disc Protrusions / Herniated Disc / Bulging Disc – Common Medical Questions Answered by Doctor
Dr Hayley Throssell is a qualified medical doctor and graduate of the University of Western Australia. Foyle Legal has asked her to provide some general information about disc protrusions. This information is information of general application and is not medical advice. If you want medical advice you should consult your treating doctor specialist.
Scans and Common Symptoms
Disc protrusions arising from personal injury are common in the cervical spine (neck injury) and the lumbar spine (lower back injury), generally speaking they are not common in the thoracic spine (mid back). Disc protrusions are often a serious injury, and injured people will typically be referred for scans such as CT scans and MRI scans. Often injured people will be referred to a specialist such as an orthopaedic surgeon or a neurosurgeon.
It is relatively common for “radiculopathy” to be associated with a disc protrusion. The WorkCover WA Guides for the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment defines radiculopathy as the impairment caused by malfunction of a spinal nerve root or nerve roots. It then goes on to provide a criteria for radiculopathy.
For cervical spine injuries the radiculopathy reported is generally experienced in one or both arms. The symptoms experienced by personal injury clients will often include pain down the arms (to various points), pins and needles, burning and sharp pains. Regarding lumbar spine injuries the radiculopathy is usually experienced in the legs. The symptoms are similar to cervical spine injuries. In many cases both injuries can be debilitating resulting in difficulty using the arms and legs. Treatment for these symptoms regarding a disc protrusion may range from an exercise programme and medication to spinal fusion surgery. An extreme treatment is disc replacement which is an alternative to fusion surgery.
What is a slipped disc?
First it’s important to understand a little about the anatomy of the spine. The spine consists of vertebrae (bones stacked on top of one another) and rubbery discs (that are situated in between each vertebra). Running through the middle of the vertebrae is the spinal cord.
A slipped disc (also known as a herniated, ruptured or bulging disc) is a condition in which the soft inner part (nucleus pulposus) of a disc is pushed out. This happens when a tear occurs in the tough outer ring (annulus fibrosus) of a disc. Tears are usually a result of an injury to the spine. People at higher risk of such injuries include those who do lots of strenuous physical activity and heavy lifting, golfers, gymnasts, swimmers and weightlifters. Additionally, aging, bad posture and obesity can cause general wear and tear of the disc and make you more likely to get a slipped disc.
What are the signs and symptoms of a slipped disc?
Slipped discs can put pressure on nearby nerves that connect the spine to other parts of the body. Depending on which nerves are affected, this can cause symptoms such as:
- Back pain that may also radiate to the legs and buttocks
- Neck pain that may also radiate to the upper arms and shoulders
- Muscle weakness
- A sensation of tingling or numbness in the affected areas
How are slipped discs usually treated initially?
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and perform a physical examination. This will involve checking for muscle weakness, loss of sensation or abnormal reflexes. An urgent referral to a neurosurgeon will be made if any neurological deficits are found. If there is no significant deficit or pathology present, then the pain will usually be self-limiting.
Over the counter pain medications (such as Panadol and Nurofen) are often helpful in reducing the pain. Nurofen is an NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug) which helps by decreasing local inflammation and relieving pressure around the affected nerves. If these medications don’t work, your GP may be able to prescribe stronger pain medication.
Where appropriate, your GP may prescribe other medications such as oral steroids and muscle relaxants. Local epidural steroid injections are another potential option.
Your GP can also refer you to a physiotherapist. A physiotherapist can help you learn exercises and stretches to strengthen your back muscles and help protect against future injuries.
It is advised that you return to participating in normal activities as soon as you can (i.e. bed rest is NOT recommended). However, you should avoid any movements that make the pain worse.
Certain lifestyle and psychological factors can sometimes worsen chronic pain. If possible, you should do your best to avoid or deal with the following issues:
- Extended bed rest (this can make your back weaker and stiffer)
- Low participation in treatment such as physiotherapy
- Isolating yourself from family and friends
- Stress, depression or anxiety
- Problems or stress at work
- Problems with claims for time off work or compensation
When should an injured person speak to their doctor about referral to a Neurosurgeon or Orthopaedic Surgeon and what kind of surgical intervention is common?
Surgery is usually viewed as an option only after you have tried conservative treatment (such as pain medication and physiotherapy) for at least six weeks and it has failed to manage your symptoms. However, surgery is also indicated if you are developing worsening neurological impairment. Signs of this include weakness in your leg or foot, or difficulty controlling your bladder or bowels – in this case, you should see a doctor immediately.
Surgical treatment for slipped discs include microdiscectomy, disc replacement and spinal fusion.
Microdiscectomy is the removal of the protruding portion of a slipped disc, with the aim to reduce pressure on the affected nerves.
Disc replacement is the insertion of an artificial disc to replace the slipped disc that is causing your symptoms. Risks of this procedure include infection, bladder problems, dislodgement of the artificial disc, and continued or increasing pain.
Spinal fusion is the use of surgery to combine two or more vertebrae. Sometimes bone tissue is inserted in the space between two vertebrae. Other times, the entire disc between two vertebrae may be removed. Metallic screws, plates or rods are used to provide stability to the spine and quicken the fusion process. Complete fusion usually takes 6-12 months. Complications that may be developed include infection, bladder and bowel problems, and nerve damage. Sometimes the fusion itself fails, and you may need to undergo surgery again.
Foyle Legal Provides Legal Services to all of WA
What suburbs in Perth does Foyle Legal provide legal representation to?
Looking for best personal injury & workers compensation lawyers near me in Perth? Foyle Legal provides legal presentation to Workcover claims, workplace injury claims, work accident claims, accident injury claims, and all personal injuries clients all over Perth. It includes but not limited to north of river, south of the river, Perth city areas, eastern suburbs, western suburbs and Fremantle areas.
North of the river – Northern Suburbs
Ballajura – Bassendean – Bayswater – Beechboro – Carine – Carramar – Clarkson – Connolly – Currambine – Dianella – Doubleview – Duncraig – Eden Hill – Edgewater – Embleton – Glendalough- Greenwood – Gwelup – Heathridge – Hillarys – Inglewood – Innaloo – Joondalup – Kallaroo – Karrinyup – Kingsley – Landsdale – Maida Vale – Malaga – Marangaroo – Mindarie – Mindarie Keys- Morley – Mullaloo – Munster – North Beach – Osborne Park – Padbury – Scarborough – Shenton Park – Sorrento – Trigg – Tuart Hill – Wanneroo – Warwick – Waterman – Wembley Downs – Woodlands – Woodvale – Yanchep
South of the River – Southern Suburbs
Alfred Cove – Applecross – Ardross – Attadale – Bateman – Beaconsfield – Beeliar – Bentley – Bibra Lake – Bicton – Booragoon – Bullcreek – Canning Bridge – Canning Vale – Cannington – Casuarina- Cockburn – Como – Coogee – East Victoria Park – Forrestdale – Gosnells – Jandakot – Karawara – Kelmscott – Kwinana – Melville – Mount Pleasant – Palmyra – Shelley – Spearwood – Success – Wattle Grove – Welshpool – Willetton – Wilson – Winthrop
Perth Inner City
Burswood – CBD/Northbridge – East Perth – Highgate – Leederville – Maylands – Mount Hawthorn- Mount Lawley – North Perth – South Perth – Subiaco – Victoria Park – West Leederville – West Perth – CBD – Kings Park – Northbridge – Perth
Ascot – Belmont – Carlisle – Kewdale – Newburn – Redcliffe – Rivervale
Churchlands – City Beach – Claremont – Cottesloe – Crawley – Daglish – Dalkeith – Floreat – Mosman Park – Mount Claremont – Nedlands – Swanbourne – Wembley
East Fremantle – Fremantle – Hamilton Hill – North Fremantle – O’Connor – South Fremantle
Does Foyle Legal provide Legal Representation to surrounding areas of Perth?
Yes, Foyle Legal extends legal presentation to surrounding areas of Perth. This include but limited to Avon Valley, North Coast & Valleys, Peel areas, Perth Hills, Rottnest Island, and Swan Valley.
Avon Valley – New Norcia – Northam – Other Avon Valley Areas – Toodyay – York – Clackline – Wooroloo
North Coast & Valleys
Bindoon – Chittering – Gingin – Guilderton – Lancelin – Ledge Point – Lower Chittering – Moore River – Neeragabby – Upper Chittering – Wanerie – Woodridge
Mandurah – Peel Coast – Peel Inland – Baldivis – Barragup – Boddington – Dawesville – Dwellingup- Falcon – Greenfields – Halls Head – Karnup – Mandurah – Mandurah East – Meadow Springs – Pinjarra – Port Kennedy – Quindanning – Ravenswood – Rockingham – Rockingham Beach – Safety Bay – Secret Harbour – Serpentine – Shoalwater – South Yunderup – Wannanup – Waroona- West Pinjarra
Armadale Area – Bickley – Carmel Wine Region – Kalamunda Area – Mundaring Area – Other Perth Hills Areas – Serpentine – Jarrahdale Area – Armadale – Bedfordale – Bickley – Byford – Carmel – Chidlow – Darling Downs – Darlington – Forrestfield – Gidgegannup – Glen Forrest – Gooseberry Hill – Greenmount – High Wycombe – Hovea – Jarrahdale – Kalamunda – Karragullen – Lesmurdie – Mount Helena – Mundaring – Mundijong – Orange Grove – Parkerville – Paulls Valley – Pickering Brook – Roleystone – Stoneville – Wungong
Baskerville – Belhus – Bellevue – Brigadoon – Bullsbrook – Caversham – Ellenbrook – Guildford – Hazelmere – Henley Brook – Herne Hill – Middle Swan – Midland – Midvale – Millendon – South Guildford – Swan Valley – The Vines – Upper Swan – Viveash – West Midland – West Swan – Whiteman
Does Foyle Legal provide legal service to clients in Regional WA?
Yes, we service all of WA, including remote or regional areas of Western Australia.
Caiguna – Cocklebiddy – Madura – Mundrabilla – Esperance – Woody Island – Goldfields – Balladonia – Boulder – Broad Arrow – Coolgardie – Cue – Gwalia – Kalgoorlie – Kalgoorlie-Boulder – Kambalda – Kookynie – Laverton – Leonora – Menzies – Murchison – Norseman – Warburton – Hopetoun – Munglinup – Ravensthorpe – Wheatbelt – Bolgart – Broomehill – Caballing – Corrigin – Gnowangerup – Holleton – Hyden – Kulin – Lake Grace – Lake Yealering – Merredin – Mullewa – Narembeen – Narrogin – Nungarin – Wagin – Wandering – Watheroo – Williams – Coral Coast – Cervantes to Dongara – Badgingarra – Cervantes – Dongara – Eneabba – Green Head – Jurien – Leeman – Mingenew – Port Denison – Coral Bay – Exmouth – Ningaloo Reef – Abrolhos Islands – Carnamah – Geraldton – Greenough – Northampton – Kalbarri – Port Gregory – Carnarvon – Denham – Monkey Mia – Shark Bay – North West – The Kimberley – Broome Peninsula – Broome – Cable Beach – Roebuck – Dampier Peninsula – East Kimberley – Halls Creek – Kununurra – Lake Argyle – Warmun – Wyndham – West Kimberley – Derby – Fitzroy Crossing – The Pilbara – Karijini -Pilbara Coast – Dampier – Karratha – Onslow – Point Samson – Port Hedland – Roebourne – South Hedland – Thevenard Island – Wickham – Pilbara Outback – Marble Bar – Newman – Pilbara – South West – Blackwood River Valley – Balingup Area – Balingup – Mullalyup – Boyup Brook Area – Boyup Brook – Bridgetown / Greenbushes Area – Bridgetown – Greenbushes – Nannup Area – Jalbarragup – Nannup – Geographe / Bunbury – Bunbury Area – Australind – Bunbury – Eaton – Collie River Valley Area – Collie River Valley – Donnybrook / Capel – Capel – Donnybrook – Glen Mervyn – Kirup – Peppermint Grove Beach – Ferguson Valley Area – Dardanup – Ferguson Valley – Wellington Mill – Wellington Mills via Dardanup – Harvey Area – Binningup – Cookernup – Harvey – Myalup – Preston Beach – Yarloop – Great Southern – Albany Coast – Albany – Big Grove – Bornholm – Emu Point – Little Grove – Middleton Beach – Redmond – Robinson – Bremer Bay Coast – Bremer Bay – Denmark Coast – Bow Bridge – Denmark – Golden Hill – Hazelvale – Kentdale – Nornalup – Frankland River – Frankland – Kojonup – Mount Barker / Porongurup – Amelup – Cranbrook – East Porongurup – Kendenup – Manypeaks – Mount Barker – Narrikup – Porongurup – Margaret River – Busselton/Vasse – Broadwater – Busselton – Geographe – Vasse – Dunsborough/Yallingup – Bunker Bay – Cape Naturaliste – Carbunup – Carbunup River – Dunsborough – Eagle Bay – Marybrook – Naturaliste – Quedjinup – Quindalup – Yallingup – Margaret River Central – Forest Grove – Forest Grove via Margaret River – Gnarabup – Gnarabup Beach – Karridale – Margaret Region – Margaret River – Prevelly Park – Rosa Glen – Margaret River North – Chapman Hill – Cowaramup – Gracetown – Metricup – Wilyabrup – Witchcliffe – Yelverton – Margaret River South – Augusta – Kudardup – Southern Forests – Manjimup Area – Donnelly River – Manjimup – Nyamup – Quinninup – Northcliffe Area – Pemberton Area – Pemberton – West Pemberton – Walpole Area – North Walpole – Walpole