Workers compensation settlements are entirely voluntary. The employer or its workers compensation insurer isn’t required to settle a workers comp claim. The claimant isn’t required to agree with the settlement offer as proposed, either.
If you’re in the process of discussing a settlement of a workers compensation claim, or you want to pursue settlement, you may wonder how much money you’ll receive in a workers comp settlement. Before making a decision about workers compensation settlements, consider the following topics.
What Are You Entitled To in a Workers Compensation Settlement
When discussing a workers compensation settlement, begin with an understanding of the benefits you’re entitled to receive. Also consider the rights you’re giving up in the workers comp settlement agreement. Learn about benefits types and how these benefits are handled in workers comp settlements.
Permanent Partial Disability. If a work-related accident or injury left you with any type of permanent disability or impairment but you aren’t totally disabled, you may be entitled to a monetary award as compensation for the permanent impairments. If your doctor says you’re limited to the type or amount of work you may do and/or your body condition is highly unlikely to return to its pre-injury condition, you may be entitled to permanent partial disability award in settlement.
- The employer may propose a permanent partial disability settlement by offering an amount that’s equivalent to or less than the monetary value of a permanent partial disability award in the workers comp claim.
- You will be asked to give up rights in exchange for the monetary award: you may be required to give up your right to claim permanent and total disability or the right to argue a certain medical state or condition related to the workers compensation claim as well as the right to request future medical care.
- An experienced workers compensation attorney can help you sort out the implications of this sort of settlement agreement, especially when a large amount of money may be at stake.
Temporary Total Disability, or Time Loss Compensation
If workplace-related injuries and illness prevent your ability to work, you may receive partial or total temporary disability compensation, or “time loss compensation benefits” at that time.
The employer or its insurer might not have disbursed these payments in a timely fashion or you may have received too little when you were paid. The employer may propose a lump-sum offer amount for the money you’re owed.
Unpaid Medical Bills
The workers compensation claim entitles the injured worker to obtain medical care for the illness, injury, or medical condition. If your disability is temporary and the work-related injuries are relatively minor, the employer may agree to pay your medical bills under the workers comp claim. Alternatively, the employer may offer a lump-sum settlement if you agree to give up your right to additional medical costs or reimbursement of these costs, or any other works comp benefits to which you may be entitled.
Workers Compensation Settlement Arrangement Types
Two types of settlement arrangements are frequently used in workers comp claims: lump-sum settlements and structured settlements.
The lump-sum settlement, sometimes called a Section 32 settlement, requires the injured workers to sign a settlement agreement that agrees to waive certain rights in lieu of a single lump-sum payment from the employer or insurer. In a structured settlement option, the injured worker agrees to receive payments over a certain period of time, such as ten or fifteen years.
Considerations About Workers Compensation Settlement Agreements
A workers compensation settlement agreement is now a known, guaranteed benefit to the injured worker. If he or she doesn’t accept the settlement and the claim progresses to a hearing at the workers compensation appeals board, or is litigated in state court, the presiding judge may rule against the injured worker in favor of the employer. The decision could leave the injured victim without benefits.
Alternatively, the injured worker may prevail and, in so doing, win a higher amount than the proposed settlement. That’s why the workers comp lawyer is likely to say that the settlement removes some of the risks associated with a lawsuit.
The injured worker will probably be required to waive his or her right to medical treatment in the future if state law permits the waiving of this right. If surgery and other treatments may be necessary in the future, it’s important to avoid waiving these legal rights.
Settlement isn’t permitted in all states at any point in the workers comp claim process. It’s important to discuss settlement with an experienced attorney before making a decision If the employer or insurer has already proposed a settlement offer and a great sum of money is at stake, ask a workers comp specialist about your settlement options before agreeing to settle the claim.