When a workplace injury has created problems in your life, you may welcome the opportunity to settle the case. While settling a case can bring closure to a bad situation and help you begin your fresh start, you should know what might happen as a result and how much you can expect. Read on to learn about those aspects of a workers' compensation insurance settlement.
When Should I Settle My Case?
It's important to time your settlement so that you can take full advantage of the potential benefits. For example, if you settle too soon, your medical condition could worsen or fail to improve in the predicted manner. For that reason, most legal experts advise workplace injury victims to wait until their injuries are at the maximum medical improvement (MMI) stage. This means that your injuries are not expected to improve further.
Another issue to consider before you sign a settlement is that a settlement is a final legal act. You cannot, in most cases, reopen a workers' compensation case after you have agreed to settle and signed the release. Therefore, consultation with a workers' compensation attorney could save you from making a mistake that cannot be rolled back.
How Much Money Can I Expect?
The actual settlement offered to hurt workers varies depending on the exact case. You should never agree to a settlement without knowing what you might have been entitled to receive had you allowed your case to be heard by an administrative law judge or the workers' compensation boards. Most settlements are based on the following:
- The degree of disability. You can be 100% disabled or any percentage up to that amount. A 50% disability won't pay as much as a 75% disability, for example.
- Your wages before the injury. The higher your previous salary, the higher the settlement.
- Your age and education level. Older workers who would be close to retirement may not be offered the same settlement as one who has a lifetime of lost earnings ahead of them.
- The potential for future medical treatments.
- The possibility that the insurance company unfairly denied you temporary benefits and now owe you those. Temporary disability benefits include medical care and a partial disability wage.
- Unpaid medical bills.
- Penalties placed on the workers' comp insurance for failing to approve benefits previously.
It must be emphasized that a settlement is entirely negotiable. This sort of action is best handled with the help of a workers' comp lawyer skilled in understanding what is at stake with the loss of a job due to a workplace injury.