According to the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, workers’ compensation cases usually end in a settlement. These programs are operated by insurance companies who have a vested interest in settling cases without going to court. Offering a settlement agreement gives insurance companies the ability to negotiate the amount of compensation that they will pay, which means that they can try to minimize the amount. However, not all workers’ compensation cases end in a settlement.
If an agreement cannot be reached between the insurance company and the worker that suffered injuries, most states have an alternative method of settling the case. In most states, this means taking your case to trial before a workers’ compensation judge or adjudicator. If this happens in your case, it is in your best interest to hire a lawyer to represent you as if it were any other type of lawsuit.
Defining a Workers’ Compensation Settlement
A workers’ compensation settlement is an agreement to accept a specific amount of compensation in exchange for ending legal action and waving the right to take future legal action to seek compensation. This agreement can take several forms structured around how you receive your compensation or what terms you agree to in the settlement.
A good example of this is the Section 32 Waiver Agreement found in the state of New York. According to the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board, a Section 32 Waiver Agreement lets you accept a lump sum of compensation in exchange for permanently closing a part or all of your compensation claim. In essence, it lets you get a faster resolution to your case in exchange for the ability to seek more compensation down the road. Every state has different rules regarding workers’ compensation, which is why it is important to discuss your case with a lawyer before taking action.
Settlement vs. Trial
In most cases, disposing of a claim through a settlement agreement works out well for both parties. However, there may be cases where the two sides cannot agree. If this is the case, your claims will go to trial where a workers’ compensation judge will decide the outcome of your claims. It is possible that you will get more compensation than you can negotiate with the insurance company. You may also not be awarded compensation at all. It all depends on the specifics of your case, how it is presented, and other factors that are specific to your case.
There are several types of settlement agreements that you can use to manage your workers’ compensation claims. There are two main types: lump-sum and structured settlements.
In lump-sum settlements, you receive a single large payment for either a portion of the settlement amount or the entire amount. Once you accept this payment, you forfeit the right to any further compensation and the right to take legal action.
In a structured settlement, the payout is made in installments. You can break down those payments however you see fit, including monthly and yearly installments. This is an effective choice if you want to control how the money is used over time. It is also the preferred method when benefits are paid to a surviving family member.
Depending on what state your claim is filed in, your settlement agreement may need to be reviewed by another party before it is final. According to Iowa Workforce Development, it needs to be approved by that states’ oversight board. The board is charged with making sure that agreements are fair and ethical so that employees are not taken advantage of. This means that even if both parties agreed to a settlement, the review board could reject the agreement and force negotiations to continue.
Seeking Legal Action
The process for filing a workers’ compensation claim is separate from taking legal action. In most cases, legal action is not required. However, if you feel that you are being taken advantage of or you are having some other problem in the process that is stopping you from collecting compensation, you might be able to take legal action to resolve the problem. Before doing so, discuss your case with a lawyer to see what your legal options are.
Call for a Free Consultation
Your case can end in either a settlement agreement or going to trial. In either case, having legal representation is in your best interest. Negotiating a settlement agreement can be intimidating, and making mistakes can cost you over the long term. Likewise, navigating the legal system on your own can be difficult if you have never handled the case. Regardless of how your case goes, one of the best choices you can make for yourself is to hire a lawyer.
Although most cases are resolved in settlement agreements, not all workers’ compensation cases end in a settlement. Protect your interests by hiring a lawyer to represent you. Contact Ben Crump Law, PLLC at (800) 603-4224 to discuss your case in a free consultation.