Many workers who are hurt on the job are covered by their employer's workers' compensation insurance. While this coverage is a valuable work benefit, the way the claims and settlement process works can be confusing and problematic. You are entitled to be paid for an accident that occurred as a result of your job, so read on to find out how to proceed after you are offered a settlement.
What Is a Workers' Comp Settlement?
If your injury has led to a significant or even permanent injury, you may be offered a lump sum settlement. The amount offered is based on several factors, such as your age, education level, salary before injury, and the severity of the injury. Settlements are meant to close out the case. Once you accept a settlement, being able to ask for more money or benefits can be rare and difficult to accomplish.
Medical Treatment and Settlements
In the initial stages of a workers' comp claim, most hurt workers can count on having their medical expenses covered. Unfortunately, things get a bit murkier after you agree to a settlement. With medical costs being so incredibly expensive, it's vital that you understand whether or not you are covered for any future medical treatments resulting from the work-related incident.
Be Wary of Preemptive Settlements
In most cases, settlements are offered once the final outcome of the injury has come to light. That might mean waiting a few months before you are deemed to be at what the insurance carrier calls maximum medical improvement (MMI). Since all hurt workers are entitled to temporary benefits, like a partial disability wage and medical care, you have nothing to lose by waiting long enough for your condition to stabilize and MMI to occur. The insurance carrier, however, may offer you a preemptive settlement surprisingly soon after an accident. Be extremely cautious of acting too soon and giving up future benefits.
Understand Structured Payments
Some work-related accident victims have a choice when they are presented with a settlement offer. Traditionally, the payment is made using a single lump-sum payment. Often, however, workers can be offered a structured settlement. This means that the money paid out in regular payments rather than all at once. This manner of paying benefits the insurance carrier by spreading out the obligation, and it can work well for the worker, too. Be sure you take into consideration the way the regular payments could affect your ability to qualify for Social Security disability payments for permanent injuries, however.
As you can see, workers' comp settlements can be very complex. Speak to an attorney, like those at McKone & Unruh, for help with your case.