Cracked Ribs and Workers' Compensation

An injury received while performing your job duties can potentially ruin your life. If your injury resulted in cracked ribs, leaving you unable to work, would you be able to afford your rent or utilities? You may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits from your employer that can help you and your family during this difficult time in your life.

Workers’ Compensation

People who are hurt on the job are protected by workers’ compensation insurance. There are laws mandated by each state that require most employers to provide a workers’ compensation insurance policy. A workers’ compensation policy is provided to employees at no expense to them.

If you are hurt during your shift, you need to notify your supervisor immediately. You should also consider filling a workers’ compensation claim. Filing a claim can assist you with getting the help you need. Workers’ compensation can help to provide you with medical care, lab work, prescriptions, therapy, surgery, and follow-up visits you may need. Speak with your supervisor about obtaining a list of physicians you can see for free. If you need immediate emergency medical attention, call 911.

Cracked Ribs

Cracked ribs can be caused by slip and falls caused by slick or obstructed floors, car accidents, or falling from a ladder. It is the most common chest injury. Do not continue working if you think you may have cracked a rib due to an injury sustained on the job. Cracked rib injuries can lead to months of missed work to allow you to heal properly.

When suffering from cracked ribs, you may find yourself suffering from one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Tightness in your chest;
  • Painful breathing;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Gradual or intense chest pain;
  • Swelling;
  • Tenderness around the injured area;
  • Bruising around the injured area;
  • Cough or fever; or
  • Pain in the abdomen or shoulder.

If you begin to notice any of the symptoms listed, you should consider seeking medical attention immediately. Cracked ribs can become worse or even be fully broken. A broken rib can potentially puncture your lung, which can be life threatening.

Help With Medical Expenses

If you sustain cracked ribs as a result of an injury on the job, workers’ compensation may provide you with benefits that can help you. You may require medical care such as surgery, x-ray, or any other necessary medical treatment. You may qualify for other benefits.

Cost of a Cracked Rib

Cracked rib injuries are typically caused at work by falls from a height or when something heavy falls unexpectedly on top of an employee’s torso. The main danger of a cracked rib injury is that one or more of the ribs protrudes inwards and punctures a lung or damages the heart or a major blood vessel.

The full cost of a cracked rib injury in a workers’ compensation claim will depend on the exact nature and severity of the injury, how much medical treatment is needed to deal with it, how long is needed for full recovery, if full recovery is actually possible and the estimated costs of future medical treatment, if needed.

To break down these individual cost components more clearly, the factors below must be considered. The final cost of the cracked rib injury will be a combination of some or all of the factors described.

Cost of an Ambulance

Emergency services may have been used to take the injured employee to a hospital. This cost must be included in the claim.

Doctor’s Assessment and Reports

If injured, a doctor would first have to examine the injury, assess the severity and prognosis and then advise what treatment should be provided. In an emergency situation, the visit to a regular doctor may be bypassed if major organs have been compromised by the fractured ribs.

Tests and Medication

There will be X-rays taken and possibly further tests if there is potential soft tissue damage. The X-rays will determine just how bad the bone fractures are and whether they can heal without further surgery. Medication will probably be prescribed for relieving pain and preventing infection, especially if the external skin surface has been ruptured.


Surgery may be needed if the fractured ribs are broken off inside the torso and are potentially capable of penetrating organs. It may be used to ‘set’ the ends of the ribs where they are fractured or operate on internal damage.

Lost Earnings

The cost of the days absent from work, until advised to return to normal duties, is typically calculated according to a formula that is determined by the state. It tends to work out at about two thirds of what might have been earned for that period if there hadn’t been an injury.

Estimated Future Expenses

Most cracked rib injuries eventually heal, but there may be a cost involved if there are likely to be complications following recovery. If the employee is not able to return to exactly the same job, or even if he / she cannot work at all, then this will need to be included in the claim.

What To Do if You Get a Crack a Rib at Work?

Depending on how much pain you are experiencing when you believe you have cracked a rib, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Some workplaces will tell you to go to a medical facility approved by them. If you fail to do this it may be harder to qualify for workers’ compensation that covers the cost of your medical treatment.

Once you have received the medical treatment necessary to both diagnose and provide emergency treatment you should consider informing your workplace supervisor of the accident.

Some employers are strict about the time given to do this and you may only be given 24 hours and if you fail to follow this deadline you may find your workers’ compensation is denied. You can call your supervisor but it is in your interest to follow this up in writing so you have this evidence to include in your WC claim.

The next stage is completing the official claim form. This may be provided by your employer. Failing that you should be able to get one from your state’s workers' compensation board. The information you will need to include on the workers comp claim form is:

  • the type of injury that you received;
  • the date and time of the injury and where it occurred in the workplace;
  • the names of anyone else that may have contributed to the injury taking place;
  • a description of how the accident happened that caused the cracked ribs;
  • the medical treatment received so far.

Before you send in the form you must provide sufficient documentary evidence proving your cracked ribs took place at work. This should include eye witnesses written reports, photos taken by your company’s surveillance cameras, your own photos of the accident site and a medical report provided by your doctor explaining how the accident occurred and an approximate recovery time. In some states there is a statute of limitations in force which only gives you a limited time to file the WC claim.

You should make sure you file your WC claim’s form before that date otherwise you risk losing your right to workers’ compensation. If you are unlucky and your claim is denied, you should be given the chance to appeal this decision with the help of a workers’ compensation lawyer.

If your WC claim is successful your medical treatment will be paid for. This will include the cost of an ambulance, emergency room visits and treatment and any follow up appointments following treatment. On top of that you can expect to receive 2/3rds of your weekly wage until you are able to return to work.

How Much Does Worker’s Comp. Pay for Cracked Ribs?

As soon as you arrive at the hospital the doctor may require any of the following:

  • x-ray which will detect any cracked ribs;
  • a ct scan which detects any other damage done such as to organs or soft tissues which don’t show up on an x-ray;
  • bone scan if there appears to be a stress fracture to a rib.

Breakdown of Treatment for Cracked Ribs

Assuming your cracked ribs aren’t too serious and you haven’t punctured a lung that requires surgery to fix, you can expect to be compensated for the following medical treatment and 6 weeks recovery time.

  • cost of ambulance = $300;
  • emergency room consultation = $500;
  • follow up consultation=$500;
  • x-ray = $1,600;
  • CT scan = $1,100;
  • 6 weeks recovery time at 2/3rds of $1,000 per week = 6 x $666 = $4,000.
  • Total workers’ compensation = $8,000.

Common Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Lost wages. You may be left unable to work due to your cracked rib injury. If that is the case, you may qualify to receive a portion of your lost wages. Workers’ compensation provides both temporary and permanent forms of disability payments, but there are certain guidelines that must be met.

Job training. If your injury leaves you unable to continue working in your field, you may be able to receive job training through workers’ compensation. You can learn skills that will help you in a new field.

Average Cracked Rib Settlement

Each cracked rib settlement will be unique and there is no easy way of calculating what might be offered by your employer’s insurer. More important is to make sure you have every cost documented carefully and completely so it is taken into consideration. The more evidence you have available that can be submitted with the claim, the harder it will be for the insurer to ignore it when calculating a payment.

The easiest component of a WC claim to calculate is compensation for lost wages. For a construction worker who normally earns $30 an hour, compensation would be calculated at an average of two thirds of this amount, i.e. $20 an hour for the period off work from the date of the accident to the date of a return to work.

Get the Legal Help You May Need

You should learn about your workers’ compensation rights under the law. Speaking with an experienced attorney can help you get the assistance you need. They can answer any questions you may have regarding benefits and your rights.

For more information for applying for workers' compensation with cracked ribs, check out these tips. Check here for tips on filing for workers' compensation with a bruised rib.