If you have been injured in the course of your work, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, and these can include a settlement. Here, the workers’ compensation attorneys at Murnane & O’Neill explain workers’ compensation settlements and the considerations a beneficiary should make before accepting a settlement.
It is important to know that a settlement will not be made available in every workers’ compensation case. An employer or workers’ compensation insurance company is not required to settle your claim, but, you are also not required to accept a settlement should one be offered. It is important to consider the factors of your personal case before accepting or rejecting a settlement. Here are a few things to consider before deciding whether a workers’ compensation settlement is the right choice for you.
Types of Settlement Benefits
Permanent Partial Disability
In some instances, work-related injuries may result in an impairment that will permanently affect only parts of the body. In these cases, a permanent partial disability award may be issued to the injured party. Permanent partial disability awards may also be issued to those who undergo surgery related to their work injury, those who require new work restrictions detailing the activities they can perform or those whose body will never return to a pre-injury state.
A common settlement in this instance is one that is equivalent or slightly less than the award you would likely be provided under your workers’ compensation claim. In exchange for the settlement, many employers or insurance companies require the beneficiary to revoke their future rights to argue that they have been permanently and totally disabled, that they require further medical care or that a future condition is related to the work injury. Due to the implications of accepting such a settlement, it is critical to have a workers’ compensation attorney carefully review your case to determine if this would be an appropriate solution.
Temporary Partial or Total Disability
If your work-related injury caused you to be unable to work for an extended period of time, you will likely be entitled to partial or total temporary disability payments for the time you were unable to work—these are also known as time loss compensation benefits. If your employer or their insurance company did not award you these benefits in a timely manner, or they provided you a smaller amount than you were owed, they may offer you a settlement for what you are owed, with the agreement that you will not pursue further awards.
Unpaid Medical Bills
A workers’ compensation claim entitles you to continued medical care for your injury or illness. If your injury or illness is relatively minor, and you are only seeking compensation for medical care, your employer or their insurance company may offer you a settlement to cover medical treatment, on the condition that you will not seek further compensation in the future. If you foresee prolonged medical treatment or a future surgery, it may not be advisable to choose such a settlement.
Types of Settlement Arrangements
Settlements fall into two categories: lump-sum and structured. Lump-sum settlements provide you a one-time, total settlement in exchange for foregoing future compensation. A structured settlement will provide you with smaller payments over the course of a period of years. While a lump-sum settlement provides you with compensation in a more rapid amount of time, structured settlements can help to ensure that the settlement is not spent too quickly.
Considerations to Make When Deciding on a Settlement
A settlement is guaranteed compensation—there is no risk of taking your case to court and potentially being denied compensation. A settlement may, however, total less than what you would be awarded in court. Settlements also often require you to forsake future benefits should you require more medical treatment, which can pose a potential concern should you require surgery, new medication or ongoing therapy.
Obtaining the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney is critical to ensuring you receive fair and appropriate compensation for your work-related injury, whether this be a settlement or awarded benefit. The workers’ compensation attorneys at Murnane & O’Neill have the experience to help you make an informed decision—contact us today for more information or to schedule a free consultation.