Take the time to weigh your workers’ compensation settlement options carefully, as you deserve suitable compensation for the pain you have endured. Here, the legal professionals at Murnane O’Neill provide information about workers’ compensation settlements, and how to get the most out of your claim.
It is very likely that at some point during your workers’ compensation case, you will be offered a settlement. A settlement is an allocation of money, paid to you by your employer’s insurance company, to cover your medical care and wages lost due to time off from your injuries. While a sizeable—and expedient—payout may sound appealing, it is important to know the drawbacks to settling your workers’ compensation case.
Agreeing to a lump sum settlement will likely halt any weekly disability benefit payments. Once you have settled, you will also not have any additional opportunities to earn what you may actually be due from your claim. Additionally, medical payments made on your behalf will cease after you receive any settlement money, as you will be expected to pay for the rest of your medical expenses from the settlement, and waive your right to further assistance from the insurance company.
In some cases, an insurance company is required to continue paying for your medical treatment after settlement – this usually happens with structured settlements, where you receive compensation in installments. However, it is not uncommon in these instances for insurance companies to be late or absent in paying medical bills. If this happens, you will likely have to file a second claim requesting that the insurance company keep up with payments. This can be stressful, time consuming and potentially costly. If your doctor has told you that you will need long-term medical care or major surgery, it may be advisable to reject a settlement and pursue your original claim.
If you reject a settlement offer, you can continue receiving weekly disability benefits from the insurance company, and can proceed to a trial or hearing to try and secure additional compensation from the insurance company. However, if your claim goes to trial, a judge could decide that you deserve less than what the insurance company offered you in settlement, although such an occurrence is uncommon.
The level of disability caused by your workplace injury or illness will also impact the compensation you receive. A permanent partial disability, as well as scarring or disfigurement, will receive a rating from the insurance company based on its severity. This rating will translate into a level of compensation. Permanent total disability usually yields a life pension, although such a serious case is best handled by an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. Finally, it is important to note that temporary partial or total disability claims should have “back-pay,” or wage-loss benefits, worked into the settlement. If this is not the case, the insurance company could have a penalty fine tacked on, leaving you with a larger settlement. Your lawyer will know if this is the case.
Workers’ Compensation cases can be difficult for the employee who has been injured or made ill, and no one should have to go through trials and hearings alone. To retain one of Murnane and O’Neill’s dedicated, experienced workers’ compensation attorneys, or for more information about our firm, go to www.murnaneandoneill.com.