If you are in the process of filing a worker’s compensation claim, you might have been offered a lump sum settlement, which might seem awfully tempting to accept. However, it is important to understand what settling can mean for you and your future before you agree to anything. It would also be wise to consult with an attorney experienced in handling such cases since he or she will be able to offer invaluable advice regarding your options.
Below are some of the basics you should know when it comes to settling a workers’ compensation claim:
- An end to weekly benefits: One of the first things you need to know about settling your workers’ compensation claim is that doing so will put an end to the weekly benefits you receive. Settling will mean that aspect of your case will close, so before you sign anything, figure out if it is truly worth it. It might not be as great as you think.
- Consider your reasons for settling: Insurers are always eager to settle a claim. When you are in the process of recovery, there is a big question mark hanging over you, because an insurer is not sure how long they will continue to have to pay you workers’ compensation benefits, or how long your recovery might take. If you agree to settle, this removes that stressful unknown factor for them. For a settlement to make sense at all to you, you must have a realistic idea about your condition. Is it likely that you will get better or be able to return to work? What is the status of your case? A variety of factors should be considered before you accept or reject an offer. This is understandably complicated, which is why hiring an attorney is vital to your claim.
- Consider the likelihood of continuing benefits: You are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits as long as you are unable to return to work. That said, insurers are incredibly diligent when it comes to finding out whether or not someone is truly disabled or if they are trying to prolong their time away from work. It is not uncommon for insurers to hire private investigators and they generally require that you see their physician every 6 months. If they are convinced that you are ready to return to work, your benefits will be discontinued. Therefore, you need to realistically assess your physical condition. If you feel like you are ready to get back to work, or getting close, it might actually make sense to settle because, once you return to work, your benefits will come to an end, even if time is left on the clock.
- Consider the possibility that your condition might worsen: If your condition worsens or progresses into a permanent disability, settling your claim while you are receiving temporary benefits will be detrimental to you. Those who become permanently disabled due to injuries sustained at work are entitled to continuing benefits that do not expire and are eligible for cost of living adjustments. If you are a candidate for these benefits, an insurance company would be thrilled if you settled your claim before those benefits are ordered.
- Establish a reasonable settlement amount: Before you can begin to even consider settling, you should establish an amount that is reasonable. Your attorney will be able to assist you in calculating an amount that is reasonable and fair to you. If you and your attorney come to the conclusion that your case is valued at $150,000 and the insurer offers you $50,000, this would not be considered reasonable. Sure, $50,000 sounds like a lot of money, but when you consider the fact that you will have to live on it, it actually is not much at all. Reasonable should be determined by your current condition and whether or not you expect to get better. Anything less will mean that, in the future, you will likely end up bearing expenses that your benefits could have otherwise covered.
Clearly, there is a lot for you to consider before you make any decisions regarding a settlement, but with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney on your side, you will not have to make this decision without knowledgeable advice.
Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in Orange County
If you were recently injured at work, you might be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, regardless of who might have been at fault. At Alvandi Law Group, P.C., we have a proven track record of success and have recovered over $100 million in settlements on behalf of your clients. We will guide you throughout the entire claims process and ensure your rights are protected.
Contact our Orange County firm today at (800) 980-6950 to schedule a free case evaluation with a skilled member of our legal team.