One of the most important decisions you will have to make in your workers’ compensation case is whether or not to accept a settlement of your claim. You may have to consider this more than once in your case if your employer’s insurance company begins by making offers that are significantly lower than what you are owed. While it may be easy to evaluate a low-ball settlement offer and reject it, at some point you will probably get a much more serious offer. How do you decide if you should agree to the settlement offer?
Questions to Ask Yourself When Considering a Settlement Offer
When deciding whether to settle your case, it is critical to understand that once you settle your case, it is over. You cannot go back and change the settlement agreement if you find that you are more injured than you thought or really could not return to your job. You also need to realize that you may have to compromise. You may not get 100 percent of what you are asking for, but it may be all you can get given the strengths and weaknesses of your claim. Here are important questions to ask when evaluating an offer.
Does the settlement provide for your future medical treatments?
You want to be certain that your settlement provides for any future medical care you will need if you have not fully recovered from your injuries. Have you reached your maximum recovery or received a final prognosis from your doctor? If you have not reached this stage of your medical treatment, it may be impossible to know what your future medical needs are, and an experienced workers’ compensation attorney may advise you to wait on settling your claim. Once you are at this stage of your medical recovery, you will need to compare what is being offered to what you need in medical treatments for your injuries.
Are you being adequately compensated for your lost wages?
If you have fully recovered and returned to work, it could be relatively easy to determine whether the settlement would compensate you for your lost wages. When you are still receiving treatment and are permanently disabled or must make a career change, you want to be certain that you are being compensated for your future lost wages. You may need to hire an economic expert to determine the value of your claim so that you can intelligently evaluate a settlement offer.
Does your settlement provide for partial or permanent disability compensation?
If you suffered a partial or total disability due to your injuries, you are entitled to additional compensation under Georgia workers’ compensation laws. The number of weeks that you are entitled to continued benefits will depend on the percentage of permanent impairment you suffered to the body part you injured at work. You want to be certain that your settlement provides you with this additional compensation.
Does your settlement protect you if you receive Social Security disability or Medicare payments in the future?
You want to be certain that your settlement protects you if you need to apply for Social Security or Medicare benefits in the future. The settlement agreement must be drafted so that you receive these benefits as well as your workers’ compensation benefits. If your agreement is not set up properly, your workers’ compensation benefits could be used to reimburse the government for your Social Security or Medicare payments—costing you monthly income.
What are your options if you do not accept the settlement?
When evaluating a settlement offer, you always want to evaluate your options and likely outcomes if you do not accept the settlement. You have to keep in mind that no matter how strong your claim is, there is no guarantee about what will happen if you take your case to trial. That is one reason so many workers’ compensation claims settle.
However, you also have to consider how close the settlement offer is to what you deserve. If it is too low, the option of fighting more may be your best choice. Your attorney can help you evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your claim and weigh your options.
Do Not Make the Mistake of Settling Your Workers’ Comp Claim Without the Advice of an Attorney
Before settling your workers’ compensation claim, you should consult with an experienced work injury attorney who can advise you about whether you are receiving what you deserve. In addition, you do not want to sign a settlement agreement or any other document with having an attorney review it first so that you do not waive important legal rights.
Have You Been Injured At Work?
If you've been injured on the job you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Augusta office directly at 706.863.6600 to schedule your free consultation.