- 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 your injuries cause a temporary or permanent disability, in addition to whether you will be able to perform any meaningful work in the future.
- The workers’ compensation insurance company attorneys and your lawyer will make a calculation of the compensation and benefits to which you are entitled.
- Things to consider before accepting a settlement include: medical insurance, income for life, lump sum settlement and investment opportunities.
If you’re currently receiving workers’ compensation benefits in Louisiana, it’s possible that you may be wondering if settling your case is in your best interest, as well as 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.
No matter where you are in the claims process, it’s incredibly important that you speak with a qualified workers’ compensation attorney who has ample experience evaluating and negotiating claim settlements.
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 Your Workplace Injury and Disability Worth?
Both 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 from the workers’ compensation plan. It is 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 and physical therapy bills, long-term care and so forth.
This formula includes benefits for your temporary needs, as well as what the cost of your long-term future needs may be if you are permanently disabled. Value calculations will be like the following:
- Total Permanent Disability — Determining the value of a devastating permanent and total disability can be very complicated and difficult, to say the least. The harsh reality is that if you were so severely injured as to be placed on permanent total disability benefits, your disability payments may last for decades — if not for the rest of your life. Therefore, a complicated formula and process must be used to attempt to estimate a fair settlement value that must account for the current value of your future benefit entitlements. This is not an easy task and can be argued and debated vigorously in court by both sides.
- Total Temporary Disability — Normally, if you are only unable to work temporarily, you will receive full or partial disability benefit payments until you can return to work. 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, as well as the right to receive medical insurance or benefits.
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.
It is a complex procedure that contains many variables and adjustments that only well-trained and experienced workers’ compensation attorneys can be successful with.
Should You 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 — Some insurers will refuse to continue paying your medical insurance premiums and healthcare bills.
- 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.
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.
Workers’ compensation claims are very complicated processes to go at alone. That’s why it is critical for you to contact a qualified, experienced workers’ compensation attorney in order to efficiently understand the gravity of your situation and navigate it accordingly. If you have 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.