- If you get injured on the job, you may be faced with the tough decision of accepting workers’ compensation benefits over a settlement or lump sum.
- No matter where you are in the claims process, it’s important to speak with a qualified workers’ compensation attorney to help evaluate and negotiate your claim settlement.
- The length and extent of benefits will depend on whether you will be able to work in the future and whether your injuries cause a temporary or permanent disability.
- Your lawyer will work with the workers’ compensation insurance company attorneys to calculate the compensation and benefits to which you are entitled.
- Things to consider before accepting a settlement include medical insurance, income for life, resignation of employment, lump sum settlement, investment opportunities and compensation for pain and suffering.
If you have been injured on the job and are currently receiving workers’ compensation benefits in Louisiana, you may be wondering if settling your case is in your best interest. You might also be thinking about what a fair settlement would look like. It’s very possible that your employer (or your employer’s insurer) has offered you a lump sum payment, but you’re unsure if it’s a fair deal.
All workers should be aware of their options for lump sum settlement in case of a workplace accident, as well as the pros and cons of monthly workers’ comp benefits. No matter where you are in the claims process, it’s incredibly important that you are aware of the basics and speak with a qualified attorney who has ample experience evaluating and negotiating workers’ compensation claim settlements as soon as possible.
We’ve outlined some of the important information you should know before settling your workers’ compensation claim below. However, this information should not replace the need for a qualified attorney.
What is My Workplace Injury and Disability Worth?
After an employee is injured at work, the workers’ compensation process is set in motion. Choosing a trusted doctor and experienced lawyer are critical first steps. While you receive immediate medical treatment and recover from your injuries, the workers’ compensation insurance company attorneys and your own lawyer will perform a detailed calculation of what compensation and benefits your unique circumstances entitle you to.
The process includes a complex calculation of the approximate cost and value of all future medical care and bills you may need to pay for, cash disability payments for you to live on, rehabilitation or physical therapy bills and long-term care. The formula for this calculation does not include compensation for pain and suffering, but does include monthly benefits for your temporary needs, as well as the cost of your long-term future needs if you are permanently disabled.
What Types of Benefits Will I Receive?
The calculation of the ‘value’ of a workplace injury is a complex procedure that only well-trained and experienced workers’ compensation attorneys can be successful with. Your attorney will fight for you in the process of calculating the final value of your claim, which will ultimately depend on how severe your injury was and if you will be able to work in the future. Workers who are injured on the job can generally be included in one of these four categories, depending on their situation:
- Total Permanent Disability — Determining the dollar value of a devastating, permanent disability can be very complicated and difficult, to say the least. Workers who are so severely injured as to be placed on permanent total disability benefits receive disability payments for decades — if not for the rest of their lives. Therefore, a thorough, intricate formula and process must be used to estimate a fair settlement value, taking many things into account. This is not an easy task and can be argued and debated vigorously in court by both sides.
- Total Temporary Disability — If you are unable to work temporarily, you will receive full disability benefit payments until you can return to work. Typically these payments through workers’ comp are non-taxable income. On rare occasions, some employers may offer you a lump sum in lieu of regular payments to satisfy the claim, depending on the nature of the business and injury.
- Partial Permanent Disability — When your specific injury is of a permanent nature, but you are not deemed fully disabled, you are normally entitled to a cash award to compensate for your injury which is called a permanent partial disability award. In exchange, you may have to waive your right to claim in the future that you are totally and permanently disabled. You may also have to waive the right to receive medical insurance or benefits.
- Partial Temporary Disability — With a minor workplace injury, workers may be able to work, but only part-time or not at full capacity. With a doctor’s consent in this instance, partial workers’ compensation benefits would be provided. These payments are not full benefits, but can supplement income until you’re ready to return to work full-time.
Quite often there tends to be much debate between lawyers and insurers over the true value of disability claims, as can be expected. Insurance companies typically attempt to point out deficiencies and weaknesses with your claim, while your attorney will vigorously demonstrate your injuries in their gravest light. This negotiation process can only be trusted to experienced lawyers who truly have their clients’ best interests in mind.
Should I Settle for a Lump Sum Payment?
Before making such an important decision, you should weigh all the pros and cons, as well as contemplate what you will be sacrificing or gaining from settling your disability case. Consider some of these things you will forgo by accepting a lump sum settlement:
- Medical Insurance — After accepting a settlement, most insurers will refuse to continue paying your medical insurance premiums and healthcare bills. Your medical care is now in your hands.
- Income for Life — Your future lifespan and needs may be difficult to determine, and the lump sum could easily end up insufficient to cover your needs for the rest of your life.
- Current Employment — Resignation from your position at the company where you were injured is typically included as a condition in settlements. You can remain employed if receiving weekly benefits.
However, choosing to settle may have some very important advantages, including:
- Lump Sum Payment — You get a much larger sum of money now without waiting to care for your current needs, such as paying off bills or buying a house or transportation.
- Investment Opportunities — You can invest the funds as you see fit to allow it to grow, or purchase a structured settlement plan or annuity which will provide you a guaranteed amount of money every month for a set period, even for life.
- Control of Your Care — Employees who opt out of workers’ compensation benefits for a lump sum payment can no longer rely on medical insurance to pay bills. However, that also means that treatments need not be approved by outside entities, allowing you to control your treatment plan and care providers.
A workers’ compensation claim is a very complicated process to go through alone. That’s why it’s critical to contact a qualified, experienced workers’ compensation attorney in order to efficiently understand the gravity of your situation and navigate it accordingly. If you’ve been injured on the job, don’t hesitate to contact our office for a free evaluation and to find out how we can help you through this trying time.