When you file for workers’ compensation, the insurance company may decide to settle your claim rather than continue to pay your weekly disability benefits. While receiving a large sum of money all at once may seem appealing, you need to think carefully about whether or not settling is the right choice for your case.
This is an important decision, and not one you’ll want to make alone. A workers’ compensation attorney can be an extremely valuable asset in situations such as these, as they can help you maximize your benefits and understand the settlement process.
What Does it Mean to “Settle” in a Workers’ Compensation Case?
In a workers’ compensation case, a settlement occurs when an injured worker agrees to release the insurance carrier from its obligation to pay ongoing benefits and medical expenses. In exchange, the injured worker gets a lump sum of money. The amount awarded represents the projected value of the worker’s weekly benefits and the cost of future medical treatment.
When settling a workers’ compensation case, it is very important that the worker can accurately estimate what treatment he or she will need down the road. Why? By accepting the lump sum, the worker is agreeing to completely close his or her case. From that point forward, the worker will not receive any additional payments from the insurance carrier. The amount of money awarded in the settlement will need to be enough to cover all future medical expenses.
What to Expect from the Settlement Process
Immediately following a workplace accident, the first thing you should do is file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer. At this point, it’s a smart idea to hire a workers’ compensation attorney. California state laws are extremely intricate and constantly change, so having a lawyer to guide you through the process can be very helpful.
Once the employer admits responsibility for the accident, the insurance carrier may decide it wants to settle the claim in hopes of avoiding a lengthy trial. There are two primary types of settlement arrangements: lump sum and structured. In a lump sum settlement, you’ll receive a one-time payment from your employer or its insurance carrier. A structured settlement involves smaller payments over a period of time.
Once you decide what type of settlement you’d be willing to agree to, a decision needs to be made about the amount. Having a workers’ compensation attorney can really pay off at this stage, as he or she will be able to evaluate the offer and let you know whether it will fairly compensate you for your losses. Not to mention, proper wording of the settlement is crucial to protecting your right to future benefits.
Once You’ve Settled, What Happens Next?
Once both parties have agreed on a settlement amount, you will appear before a judge who will ask you if you understand and agree with the terms of the settlement. Then he will approve it. When this happens, your weekly benefit checks will stop and the insurance carrier will have 14 days to mail your settlement check to you.
Don’t Sign a Workers’ Compensation Settlement Without a Lawyer
Navigating the workers’ compensation system can be a difficult and involved journey for an injured worker. Understanding your rights is crucial to structuring your settlement and can make a significant impact on the amount you receive. That’s where a workers’ compensation attorney comes in.
At the Law Offices of Gerald D. Brody & Associates, we’ve guided countless injured employees through the workers’ compensation settlement process. Structuring your case is not something you’ll want to do alone, as even the slightest mistake could result in you losing money you’re entitled to.
Call us today to schedule your free initial consultation. You’ll be glad you did.