When you receive a lump sum settlement offer for your workers’ compensation claim, chances are you might be tempted to take it, especially if you are facing some serious medical expenses, but you need to think carefully before you decide whether or not this is the best decision for you and your future. Taking the time to weigh the pros and cons of this option can help ensure that you are not taken advantage of.
Here are things you should consider before you decide to accept any kind of settlement offer made to you:
- Why do you want to settle and does it make sense? Insurers often push for injured workers to settle their workers’ compensation claim via a lump sum. This is because it is often unknown how long and how much they will have to pay you if you continue to receive benefits throughout your recovery. If you accept a lump sum, even it turns out your injuries are more serious than you might have initially thought, you cannot reopen your case to receive additional compensation. If you prefer a lump settlement, you need to have a realistic idea of your condition, your situation, and how long it will take for you to get better or if you will be able to return to work. Without clear answers to these questions regarding your health, the amount you accept might be too low to appropriately compensate you for the costs associated with your work injury.
- Calculate the value of your claim. It can be difficult to proceed with your case if you do not know the value of your claim. An attorney will be able to fairly assess the value of your claim and advise you on what a reasonable settlement amount would be for your case. Even after your current benefits run out, you can still be eligible for further benefits. Your attorney will also be able to calculate the extended value of your claim.
- How long will your benefits continue? Injured workers are only entitled to benefits as long as they remain unable to work. To ensure you are truly disabled, insurers are often diligent in their efforts, sometimes hiring private investigators to watch those receiving benefits. They will also require you to regularly see their physician and, if they believe you are ready to return to work, benefits will be discontinued. If you feel you are almost ready to get back to work, agreeing to a settlement might make sense.
- Your condition might worsen. If you continue to get worse or become permanently disabled, settling your claim while receiving temporary benefits could be a bad idea. For example, if you are entitled to s. 34A benefits, which will give you two-thirds of your average weekly wages, do not expire, and will provide cost of living adjustments, settling your claim would be a major mistake. On the other hand, the insurance company would love it.
- What does settling mean? Do you understand what it will mean for you if you settle your claim? The weekly checks will come to an end and will be replaced by one lump sum amount. You will also be prohibited from receiving a weekly check for this specific injury and incident. If the insurance company has been covering your medical treatment, settling will not impact this.
- Figuring out what a reasonable amount is. If you have an interest in settling, you and the insurer need to reach an agreement that is reasonable and fair. If the insurer offers you $50,000 and you and your attorney calculated that your claim is valued at $150,000, was $50,000 a reasonable offer? Despite being way off the mark, it might still sound like a lot of money, but keep in mind that you will need to live on this and, with an offer that is not even 50% of the value of your claim, you are going to run into some serious financial hardships.
Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in Sacramento
If you were injured on the job, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. That said, employers and insurance companies often make it difficult for injured workers to obtain the benefits they need and deserve, which is why it is critical to have a workers’ compensation attorney on your side. Contact the attorneys at Smolich & Smolich for skilled legal help today.
Call us at (888) 452-0703 to schedule a free initial consultation.