If you are in the middle of a workers’ compensation claim and the insurer is offering a lump sum settlement, this proposition might seem tempting, but it is crucial that you carefully consider the possible consequences of settling your claim. It would also be wise to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney before making any decisions. He or she will be able to advise you throughout this process and ensure you do not end up accepting an unfair offer.
Here are some steps you should take before you settle your workers’ compensation claim:
- Consider why you might want to settle: Insurers are generally eager to settle claims via a lump sum since doing so takes the unknown elements out of the equation. No one can ever really be certain how long an injury will last or how long it might take to achieve a full recovery, so paying an injured worker a lump sum is often much less costly for an insurer. For this option to make sense for you, you need to have a solid understanding of your condition and a realistic idea of how long it will take for you to recover. If you are not sure how long the recovery process will take, it could be detrimental to your future to accept an offer.
- Calculate your claim’s value: A major part of reaching a reasonable settlement amount is assessing the value of your claim, which is the actual amount the insurer will likely pay you over the life of your claim. Your workers’ compensation attorney will be able to assist you in calculating a reasonable estimate of this value. He or she will also be able to calculate the extended value of your claim, which are the benefits you might be eligible for once your current benefits run out.
- Consider the likelihood of your benefits continuing: You will only be entitled to the workers’ compensation benefits you receive as long as you are unable to return to work. An insurer can be incredibly thorough in their efforts to make sure that you are actually disabled and not simply prolonging your time away from work. Oftentimes, this means they might hire private investigators to watch you and will require that you see their physician every 6 months or so. If they come to the conclusion that you are, in fact, ready to return to work, your benefits will be discontinued.
- Your condition might get worse: It is possible that your condition might not get better, but rather worsen or result in a permanent disability. If this happens to you, settling your claim while you are on temporary benefits is a terrible idea. Workers who become disabled due to a workplace injury are entitled to benefits that are equal to two-thirds of their average weekly wage, which do not expire, and are eligible for cost of living adjustments. Any insurance company would love to settle with you before these benefits are ordered, so do not let them take advantage of you.
- Understand what it means to settle: When you settle a workers’ compensation claim, your weekly checks will cease and, instead, you will receive a lump sum amount. This means you will never be able to receive a weekly check for that particular injury or the workplace event that caused it. However, if the insurance company has been paying for your medical treatment, it will continue to be unaffected by the settlement.
- Establish a reasonable settlement amount: A reasonable settlement amount is a sum that you and the insurer are able to agree to that is fair to both parties. If your case is valued at $150,000 and the insurer offers you $50,000 this is not a reasonable offer. While it might seem like a lot of money, you have to remember that you will need to live on this. A reasonable amount would have to take a number of factors into consideration, including your condition, your prognosis, and even the insurer’s exposure. A reasonable amount to settle for could be as much as 80% of the value of your claim.
Santa Ana Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
If you were injured at your place of work, you will need a skilled and experienced workers’ compensation on your side to help you navigate the complexities of your case. At Ufkes & Bright, our Santa Ana workers’ compensation attorneys are here to provide you with the representation you need during this time to obtain the fair compensation you deserve.
Do not hesitate to reach out to us! Contact our office today at (714) 500-8661 to schedule a free case evaluation with a knowledgeable member of our team.