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There are so many variables in workers' compensation cases that determining an average amount is impossible. A sprained ankle on the worksite, while painful and a valid claim, is a far different scenario than losing a limb. Consulting with an experienced workers' compensation attorney helps you understand your options, what type of past and future expenses are allowable, and the value of a settlement.
Workers' Compensation Settlements
Depending on the extent of their injuries, workers injured on the job may be eligible to receive monthly disability payments. Laws vary by state, but most allow the option of settling for a lump sum in lieu of receiving these monthly stipends. These settlements may include more than the future monthly payments. Eligible expenses include future medical care, past-due disability payments, and unreimbursed medical expenses.
Another option is a structured settlement, which offers you payments over time. In this instance, you don't have to give up your rights regarding future medical care. When deciding whether to settle, understanding your rights and the different types of benefits you are entitled to is important.
What is Permanent Partial Disability?
Some injuries result in permanent impairment without rending your totally disabled, entitling you to monetary compensation for this permanent impairment. This is true in cases where your injury permanently limits the type of work you can perform, your body will not return to its pre-injured state, or you underwent surgery as part of your workers' compensation claim.
Employers typically offer to settle in these cases. Understand that, in any settlement, you give up the rights to something. This may include future medical care or redress in the event your partial disability becomes total disability. A workers' compensation attorney can help you understand the implications of settling a permanent partial disability case.
What is Temporary Total Disability?
Some injuries leave you unable to work for a definite period of time without causing permanent, lasting damage. In these instances, total temporary disability benefits, also called time loss compensation, are paid. If your employer or insurance provider did not pay these benefits at the time, the employer may offer a lump sum settlement in exchange for your agreement to not pursue compensation.
Are My Unpaid Medical Bills Covered a in Workers' Compensation Claim?
Medical treatment for injuries sustained on the job is covered by workers' compensation. If your injuries required no missed work time, your claim likely covers only these medical bills. In this case, your employer may offer a settlement if you agree not to go after further workers' comp benefits or future medical costs.
Determining the Value of a Workers' Compensation Settlement
Workers' compensation benefits do not consider factors such as pain and suffering. Two items determine settlement value: possible entitlement to future workers' comp benefits and how likely it is you would receive those benefits.
Future workers' compensation benefits consider the medical evidence as well as the laws in your state that govern how long you may receive those benefits. For example, if your doctor and the insurance company's doctor agree your temporary total disability will last two years, you are entitled to two years' worth of benefits. Settling your case for less than that is not advisable, especially if you must deduct attorney's fees out of that settlement.
The likelihood of receiving your benefits comes into play in the event your doctor and the insurer's doctor disagree about the extent of your injuries. If the other doctor insists you can return to work in a month, and testifies to this during a hearing, you may only receive another month's worth of benefits. In this instance, settling before the hearing may be a better financial move.
In permanent total disability cases, estimating the settlement value is much more complicated, as you could be looking at decades of disability payments. The complexity of these financial calculations make speaking with a workers' compensation lawyer a priority.
Workers' Compensation Settlement Examples
As discussed, settlement amounts depend upon how much the insurance company anticipates they'd have to pay on the lifetime of your claim. No one, not even a lawyer, can accurately predict the value of your claim without reviewing medical records and the details of your case. We will, however, provide three examples from different areas of the country.
- A 51-year-old New York man with a permanent partial disability settled for $410,283.05, plus lifetime yearly payments of $6,372.15 for prescriptions.
- A 52-year-old Illinois man found permanently and totally disabled was awarded $436.64 per week for life, with a lifetime expected payout of $624,395.00.
- A South Carolina worker (sex and age not divulged) was awarded $1,000,000 after suffering multiple fractures to both legs and face.
Schedule a Free Workers' Compensation Consultation
If you were injured on the job, take advantage of the free consultation most workers' compensation attorneys offer to discuss the viability of your case and whether to accept a settlement.