When To Settle in A Workers Compensation Case
If you’re recovering from injuries you received as part of a workplace accident, you likely want to focus on your recovery and want the process of navigating your workers’ comp claim in court to go as smoothly – and quickly – as possible. Insurance companies understand this, and they will often offer tempting settlements to workers’ comp claimants, hoping to save on their own costs.
If you’re offered a settlement for your workers’ comp claim, recognize that insurance companies have absolutely no obligation to take your best interests into consideration. The first obligation of an agent is to the company. This means you should consider a number of different factors – and consult with your workers compensation attorney – before accepting a settlement for your workers’ comp claim.
Will a Lump Sum Settlement Help Me?
When insurance companies offer a lump sum settlement, they’re thinking about what’s best for them. A lump sum payment lets them know exactly how much they’ll have to pay you and also removes the question of how long they’ll be making payments for your claim. Lump sum settlements are also good business for insurance companies because they save the company money over the long haul. Notice that none of these reasons for a lump sum settlement offer have anything to do with what’s best for you, the injured worker.
That doesn’t mean that a lump sum settlement will never be beneficial to you. It might be, but to know whether or not it makes sense for you to take it, there are a few questions to consider. You and your attorney should discuss these questions to determine if it makes sense to accept a lump settlement.
Based on the nature of your injuries, are you expecting to be able to get back to work fairly quickly? If you are, will you be able to do the same job or earn the same amount, or will your earnings be diminished? Is your case in dispute or being held up in some way? The answers to these questions will determine whether or not a lump sum settlement will benefit you.
How Do I Make Sure I’m Getting a Fair Settlement?
If you and your attorney determine that it makes sense to settle your workers’ comp claim, the next step is to determine whether or not the amount the insurance company is offering is fair. Talk with your attorney to make sure you understand the full value of your workers’ comp claim. Your claim’s value is based on how much the insurance company is likely to pay out over the life of your claim. Some simple math can determine how much you’re likely to receive over the remaining term. If the insurance company offers less, their settlement offer isn’t likely to be fair.
Likewise, you may find that once your total benefits run out (after three years), you may be eligible for up to five years of partial benefits. Your personal injury attorney can help you calculate how much you stand to be paid over 5 years of partial benefits on top of your current benefits. This amount should also factor into any lump sum claim you decide to accept.
What Happens If I Settle?
If you accept a lump sum settlement, understand that it means you will stop receiving weekly workers’ comp payments. You may also have significant costs that deduce from the total amount of your settlement, such the costs of any pending or lost litigation. As you determine whether or not to accept a settlement, compare the settlement offer – which may seem like a lot of money at first glance – to the amount you’re likely to end up after all these costs come out of your payment. If it’s not an amount that makes financial sense for you, you shouldn’t accept the settlement.