You Have the Right To a Settlement Offer
Will Workers’ Comp Offer Me a Settlement?
In all 50 states, employers offer workers’ compensation benefits. Each state has its laws and regulations about the number of employees a business has before it needs to provide this. If you get injured because of your job, your employer’s workers comp insurance carrier may offer you a settlement.
The Meaning of Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation, commonly referred to as workers’ comp, is insurance provided by employers to cover the cost of their employees’ on-the-job injuries and illnesses. Money from the insurance pays for medical bills and lost wages that may incur if you have to stop working. Some common reasons to apply for workers’ comp include:
- Repetitive motion injuries
- Hearing loss
- Illnesses such as black lung disease and asbestosis poisoning
- Injuries caused by malfunctioning or poorly maintained equipment
- Death and funeral costs for workers’ survivors
The Claim Process
If you experience a workplace injury or illness, report it to your employer. Depending on the state, you may need to see a medical provider that is part of the insurance network to receive benefits.
Once you provide written notice to your employer, he or she will file the claim with the insurance carrier. The insurer either approves or denies the claim. If the insurer approves the claim, you can accept the offer or negotiate for a different amount.
Workers’ Comp Benefits
When considering a settlement, it is vital to know what workers’ comp benefits you can receive. Some benefits available to you include:
- Medical care including hospital and other medical expenses
- Rehabilitation such as physical, occupational and vocational therapy
- Temporary partial and total disability
- Permanent partial and total disability
- Death benefits that provide for relatives who were financially dependent on the deceased
Talk with a local workers’ comp attorney who can guide you through your state’s guidelines to get you the right offer for settlement money needed to pay your medical bills and replace lost wages.
Types of Settlements
Workers’ comp settlements are payments you receive from your employer’s insurance carrier once you and the insurer agree on an amount. You do not have to accept a settlement offer and the company cannot compel you to take it. There are two types of settlements: lump sum and structured.
- Lump Sum Payment
If you agree to a lump sum payment, you will receive a one-time amount to settle the claim. In exchange, you may have to forego the right to reopen your claim to get future benefits.
Receiving a permanent disability from your workplace accident might qualify you for Social Security Disability Insurance. However, a lump sum payment could reduce the amount of SSDI benefits you receive.
- Structured Settlement
For long-term injuries, a structured settlement may be ideal. This arrangement consists of periodic payments you can receive over an agreed-upon time period. You may agree to weekly, biweekly or monthly checks. You also receive a lump sum amount to cover certain things like transportation and housing needs. This type of settlement arrangement enables compensation payments to suit your needs better.
An incentive to this settlement is the tax exemption. The Internal Revenue Service states that all payments you receive from workers’ compensation for injury or illness are fully exempt.
Pros and Cons to Accepting a Settlement
There are several things to think about when deciding to settle your workers’ comp claim. It is important to speak with an experienced workers’ comp attorney to weigh the pros and cons of a settlement arrangement carefully.
- You can receive benefits without a trial. Going to court raises the possibility of not getting the amount you want. Hearings take time. Accepting the benefits means you will not have to wait until the trial is over to collect payments.
- You may be able to change your payment plan, for example, getting a lump sum instead of weekly checks.
- You may receive money for giving up future benefits you may never use. For instance, if there is a slight chance you may need surgery, you can negotiate that into the settlement. If you do not need the surgery, you will still have the money.
- You may get less money than you deserve if you go to trial. You and your attorney must provide evidence to support your claim. This means you must take the time to get witness testimonies, medical records and other documents to present to the judge. In the end, all your hard work may not satisfy the judge enough for him to give you the money you need.
- It may be difficult to decide whether to get a lump sum or structured settlement. Getting a lump sum means the money may run out eventually, even if you budget well. A drawback to a structured settlement is that it may jeopardize your eligibility for benefits such as Medicaid, which is a needs-based program.
- Once you agree to the settlement, the terms of the agreement become legally binding. You cannot change your mind and ask for more money later on.
Workers’ Compensation Calculations
Different states have various ways of calculating a claim. In most cases, the insurance carrier looks at the wages lost and medical care to determine the settlement amount they will have to pay. To determine wage loss, the insurance carrier multiplies your weekly salary by the number of days worked in a year. That number gets divided by 52 to get the weekly wage.
Figuring the amount you might receive for your medical care is more complicated. The insurance carrier goes over documentation received from the medical provider. They take into account the severity of the injury and the type of disability, such as temporary partial disability or permanent total disability.
Work With an Experienced Workers’ Comp Attorney
You can get a settlement if your employer’s insurance carrier approves your claim. Are you still waiting for the offer? You have the right to receive a settlement offer that gives you the money to help pay for your bills while you cannot work. You need to connect with an experienced workers’ comp attorney who will help you get the money you deserve. Submit an online request or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with a workers’ comp lawyer near you.