Filing a workers’ compensation claim can be a long, tiring process, especially if your case is rejected. It is often more difficult, however, to know when a claim should be accepted or challenged. After extensive treatment and emotional anxiety, it may be tempting to accept whatever amount you are offered and move on. You may be presented with a fair amount, but it is still important to know your rights and ensure you make the right decision.
Workers’ compensation cases vary from person to person, and the settlement offer may be exactly what you need. Before making a choice, however, review the following pros and cons. Reach out to an attorney immediately if you feel an employer or insurance company is not taking your rights seriously.
Know When to Settle – And When to Fight
When an agreement is reached between you and the claims adjustor (or a judge weighs in and submits an order about your claim), the case is officially resolved. Though all agreements are reviewed by a workers’ compensation administrative judge, it’s important to know whether to accept to the terms or walk away. Here are a few pros and cons to consider:
- Pro: No more litigation. After agreeing to an amount, which could be one lump sum or a figure paid each week or month, you can start collecting. Furthermore, you will receive these benefits without going to trial. Though it could be tempting to fight for more, you may not get the result you expect. Court processes are also typically slow, and you will not have to wait for your day in court to start collecting payments.
- Pro: You can revisit the terms of the settlement while collecting. If you do accept a payment, you can still reopen negotiations for a higher amount or request a different pay plan, for example, a lump sum instead of weekly checks.
- Pro/Con: Recompense in exchange for future benefits. An insurance company may attempt to negotiate a settlement amount in exchange for voiding rights to future benefits. This is a tough call; you may never need these services, so you could settle now and start collecting. However, giving up your rights should never be taken lightly, especially if you are tempted with what seems like a good settlement.
- Con: You could end up with less than you deserve. This includes more than just a low amount; a settlement agreement may stipulate that you give up rights to future medical treatment or certain provisions, like paying for prescription drugs.
- Con: Reopening a case in the future could lead to a lower award. Though you may renegotiate with the insurance company, a judge may not agree with your request, in fact, he or she may feel a smaller amount is more appropriate for your damages.
- Con: An insecure future. Settling for a lump sum may be appealing, but you need to carefully consider the long-term costs of your injury. Can you stretch that lump sum across a lifetime of prescription refills and potential surgeries in the future? It is entirely possible to quickly spend an initial award and have nothing left for ongoing treatment.
Making the Right Decision
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney is a remarkably valuable asset at this time. Though you can negotiate and decide on your own, these specialists know the ins and outs of state law and can quickly tell if a settlement offer is worth your time. Protect your rights and only agree to a payout that fully covers all costs associated with your injury with expert advice from a legal team that has a proven track record of success.