Settlement is one of the least understood aspects of workers’ compensation. In the typical case, an injured worker receives medical care for weeks or months and eventually gets back to work once they have recovered. While on benefits, they receive medical care for free and temporary disability benefits.
In some situations, however, a workers’ compensation insurer might approach you to settle your claim. In this article, we briefly describe settlement, its risks for injured workers, and the steps you should complete to ensure you receive maximum benefits. Contact the experienced attorneys at Larson & Gallivan Law to learn more about your legal options.
What is a Settlement?
A workers’ compensation settlement is much like any other personal injury settlement. The injured worker agrees to accept a lump sum of money in exchange for giving up your right to seek additional compensation from the insurance company. In other words, you accept a sum of money in exchange for withdrawing your claim.
If you accept the settlement, you can’t come back to the insurer and seek additional benefits. There are two types of settlements:
A limited non-medical settlement — This settlement closes out a claim for disability benefits but not medical payments.
A total lump sum settlement — This settlement closes the entire claim, including medical bills.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of a Settlement?
For insurers, the advantage is to get the case closed and possibly limit the amount they are required to pay. Of course, there’s a flip side: they may misjudge how much care you will need and pay too much in the settlement.
For workers, the primary risk is that you will accept an amount that does not fully cover your losses. Because your case is over once you accept the settlement, you are stuck with whatever you accept. One benefit, however, is that you receive a lump sum promptly. This gives you options for investing the funds you receive or using the money to pay off outstanding bills.
How Do You Negotiate a Settlement?
Often, an insurer will approach you to settle the claim. They might even offer a specific amount of money. In our experience, they almost always make a lowball offer to start, so you should not immediately accept it.
Instead, meet with an attorney. Your lawyer will review your medical expenses and the current state of your injuries, perhaps even speaking to your doctors. At our firm, we are deeply experienced in calculating how much disabilities are likely to cost our clients over the remainder of their lives.
Settlement negotiations involve a lot of back and forth. Ideally, your attorney will request a “high” amount that leaves room to come down to a mutually agreeable number. Remember, no one can force you to accept a settlement.
All settlements must be reviewed and approved by the Vermont Workers’ Compensation Division. You and the insurer submit a Compromise Agreement to the Division, which will either reject it or accept it.
Can You Back Out of a Settlement?
Generally, no. The only exception is if the insurer obtained the agreement through fraud or other illegal conduct. For this reason, you need to work with an experienced attorney to get the most compensation available for your injuries.
Speak with Our Team Today
The Rutland workers’ compensation lawyers at Larson & Gallivan Law have ample experience negotiating fair settlements. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your rights.
Call Today! (802) 327-8458