Whether you work on construction sites or in a downtown office on the 99th floor, all employees run the risk of sustaining a work illness or injury. Although some professions face a greater risk compared to others, that doesn’t mean employees in “less risky” jobs should have their workers’ compensation cases neglected or devalued. In case of an injury while on the clock, you’re entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to pay for your medical costs and lost wages. These benefits often come through regular workers’ compensation insurance that is covered by your employer’s insurance company. But what if you receive an offer for a lump sum settlement instead?
Questions that this article can help to answer:
- How soon will the insurance company offer a workers’ comp settlement?
- What are the two types of settlements for workers’ compensation?
- How is a workers’ comp settlement determined?
- How much should a workers comp settlement be worth?
- How long do most workers’ comp settlements take?
- What do I need to know about an early settlement offer?
- How do I find a labor lawyer near me?
How Soon Will the Insurance Company Offer a Workers’ Comp Settlement?
If you are awaiting a workers’ comp settlement offer, it’s imperative to understand the factors in play. From an outside perspective, workers’ compensation settlements might sound enticing. For example, you receive one lump sum (sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars), which you will then use to help pay for your medical costs and lost wages. You get to pocket anything that might be left over. It might sound like a great offer; however, these offers always warrant a second look and the opinion of an experienced workers’ comp attorney.
Reaching a Workers’ Comp Settlement
Suppose an employee has fully recovered from their illness or injury and has returned to work without any remaining bills or unpaid benefits. In that case, their workers’ compensation claim can be closed. However, sometimes a claim requires a negotiated settlement between the injured worker (and their attorney) and the insurance company.
This process usually starts with the insurance company and the employer making an offer for payment to the employee. Depending on the type and extent of the employee’s illness or injuries, the settlement offer might include payments for:
- Unpaid benefits or medical bills
- The costs of any necessary future medical treatment
- A disability award if the worker is permanently impaired
Types of Workers Compensation Settlements
There are two types of Workers’ Compensation settlements. They are:
Lump Sum Payment
A single payment for all medical costs and benefits the employee claims. In some states, the injured worker may have to agree not to pursue any future compensation related to the same injury.
The settlement monies are divided into scheduled payments over a specified amount of time. A structured settlement might include a separate medical account to pay for any necessary future medical care.
How Is a Workers’ Comp Settlement Determined?
Before agreeing to a settlement, the employee and their lawyer should calculate what they believe the claim is worth. It should at least be enough to cover past medical care and future medical costs for the injury. Other factors that can impact the settlement include:
- Medical bills
- The need for future medical treatments, including surgery or physical therapy
- Previously lost wages or future wage loss
- Temporary or permanent disability payments
- Attorney fees
- State workers’ compensation statutes and restrictions
Once the calculation is finalized, the employee and their attorney will negotiate with the insurance company. The final settlement is frequently a compromise between the insurance company, employer, and the injured employee under the advisement of their attorney.
It’s a common requirement in many states to have a workers’ compensation judge review each settlement before it’s finalized. Although the judge will consider if it is fair to the employee, it is still in the employee’s best interest to have a workers comp attorney on their side to protect their rights.
How Much Should a Workers’ Comp Settlement Be Worth?
Calculate Workers Compensation Settlement
Workers’ compensation settlement amounts are typically based on what the case is likely to cost the workers’ compensation insurance company if the case fails to settle. Most of the time, the insurance company wants to reach a settlement before you get to the point of what is known as Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). Once you reach this point, you will likely have a good idea of your future medical expenses, which means you will have a better idea of what your case is really worth. If the insurance company can get you to accept a low workers comp first settlement offer, they will most likely pay less for your claim. That’s wonderful for them but terrible for you.
Workers Comp Settlement Amounts
How Long Do Most Workers’ Comp Settlements Take?
The truth is that it varies. For claims involving relatively minor injuries, a workers comp settlement offer letter won’t take as long. However, it can take longer for those with severe or catastrophic injuries. What’s more important than how long it takes to receive a settlement, is that you are receiving a fair settlement.
While you may be relieved to receive an early settlement offer, it’s not always in your best interest to accept an early offer. Here are three instances in which a longer case settlement may be beneficial:
- Concerns about paying for medical bills
- Unable to go to work
- Affording medical expenses related to your injury at work
An Early Settlement Doesn’t Necessarily Mean a Fair Settlement
In fact, it is never in your best interest to accept an offer without discussing your case with a qualified workers’ compensation lawyer. An experienced attorney will have a pretty good idea of what a fair settlement should be in your case. They can let you know if you should settle at this point or hold out until you receive a better offer or reach MMI.
You should also keep in mind that waiting until most or all of the anticipated benefits you can receive have been paid out will make the value of your case lower than it could have been if settled earlier.
How Do I Find a Labor Lawyer Near Me?
If you have questions about work injury lawsuit settlements or other aspects of a workers’ comp claim, 1-800-THE-LAW2 has a network of local attorneys with answers. You can find an experienced labor lawyer or workers’ compensation lawyer near you by completing our online form for free consultation. Once submitted, a licensed workers’ comp attorney in your area will call you within ten minutes to help you with your workers’ comp case.
You can also give us a call for FREE legal consultation. We are open 24/7.