UNDERSTANDING WHAT A WORKERS’ COMP SETTLEMENT MEANS, EXPLAINED BY OUR WORK INJURY LAWYER.
If you have been injured on the job or due to a work-related illness, you need to notify your employer and file a formal workers’ compensation claim. Generally, benefits are paid in regular intervals for medical bills and lost wages. Some seriously injured workers may be entitled to other types of benefits for disability, including job retraining. Because workers’ compensation benefits are paid out through licensed carriers from the state WC insurance fund, payments are generally guaranteed to be on time and for the correct amount. But while this is the norm, there are instances where a claimant may be offered a workers’ compensation settlement.
The decision to take a WC settlement is yours and yours alone. Your employer, spouse, or workers’ compensation lawyer cannot force or compel you to take the settlement. As the claimant, you are entitled to make that decision. It may be prudent to make an informed decision after consulting with these individuals, but ultimately the decision to settle your WC claim is yours.
That is if you are offered the opportunity. Not all WC claims are offered a settlement option. Generally, claims that have continued for an extended period involve catastrophic injury resulting in permanent disability, where a claimant has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), or where a claimant has special circumstances warranting compensation upfront (i.e., to sell a house with stairs to buy a single-story home due to injuries).
If you are offered this option, there are some important considerations that our workers’ comp attorney wants you to make:
Is Your Settlement Fair?
The first decision should always be whether the compensation offered is fair. Extremely low offers that undermine your claim or disability should be rejected and countered. To do this, you may need to provide evidence of your injuries and the extent of your disability through a hired expert. You may also need to better establish your lost wages now and reasonably calculable damages in the future through expert testimony.
Therefore, the threshold consideration should also be whether the offer is fair and just. If it is not, retaining legal counsel is a good idea if you have not already done so. A workplace accident attorney in NJ can help maximize your recovery.
What Type of Settlement Are You Being Offered?
Generally, there are two classes of settlements. Lump sum payments are settlement offers in one large check meant to ultimately bring a claim to a resolution. These can be huge amounts of money that a claimant and his or her family could use to pay off debts or expenses accumulated during the WC claim’s pendency. The lump sum can also be used to pay for significant expenses, such as a new home, home modifications, or a new vehicle with modifications, all to accommodate an individual with permanent disabilities.
In contrast, a structured settlement is a type of settlement with specific terms of when it will be paid to a claimant. Sometimes there is a larger figure upfront and payments each year, and other times there are equal payments spread out over several years. The terms of the structured settlement depend on several factors that can usually be negotiated, at least to an extent.
Are You Good at Managing Money?
Taking a large settlement can seem like winning the lottery. But remember that these funds are for important purposes such as covering medical bills, lost wages, and paying for damages related to your WC claim. Some individuals can reasonably take the settlement and use it as intended or grow it by investing, while others may have difficulty managing this large amount of money. Knowing how you and your family react to money is essential to protect your family’s financial well-being after a WC settlement.
Not Sure If You Should Accept a WC Settlement? We Can Help
While not all WC claims get offered a settlement when there is a settlement offered it can be both exciting and daunting for an individual or a family to review. Do not try to consider this alone. The Law Offices of Craig A. Altman can help review the terms of the settlement and your case to ensure that your needs and rights are protected. Contact us today to speak to an attorney about your case.