When a work-related injury fails to heal completely, you may be suffering from a permanent injury. That often means a settlement is coming your way. It's important to understand what it means to settle a workers' compensation case and how not to get taken advantage of when you doing so. Read on to find out more.
The Unwelcome Settlement Offer
After being out of work for a few weeks, you may hear from the workers' compensation carrier. For some workers, the offer to settle the case is confusing. Unfortunately, many workers agree to this early settlement and accept a check to drop the claim. Early settlements may be appropriate in some instances, but you could be leaving money on the table. Some early settlements are based on incomplete medical information and fail to be adequate in the long run. For example, if you hurt your back at work, you may have no way of knowing how much work you will be able to do in the future, let alone how much more medical treatment you may need if the offer comes too early.
What Are Settlements?
A settlement is a sum of money paid to injured workers and is based on their level of disability, their age, and their previous salary. In addition, it's important that the worker take future medical needs into consideration. Settlements can come in several variations. For example, you might agree to a lump-sum single payment, regular (structured) payments, or a hybrid of those two ways to get paid.
How Early Settlements May Not Be Appropriate
Settlements and the benefits you can expect to gain after you accept it can be a very complex issue. You need to understand whether or not you can work at any other jobs and your ability to qualify for other benefits. An array of government benefits may be available for certain workers, but not all. For example, if you are determined to be 50% disabled, you may not qualify for government aid. If you are not disabled enough, you may not qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance. You need to determine if you can live on the settlement and who is going to pay for any future medical needs that arise.
The Maximum Medical Improvement Issue
In almost all cases, you will undergo an examination that determines your current ability to do your previous job. If you are determined to be at maximum medical improvement, you may be permanently disabled and unable to return to your previous job. Once this determination is made, speak to a workers' comp attorney. They can help you avoid accepting a faulty determination, get a second opinion, and negotiate for a settlement that covers your needs.
To learn more about workers' compensation law, contact workers compensation lawyers like those at Neifert Byrne & Ozga.