If you accept your first workers’ compensation offer, you may not be getting the full and fair amount of workers’ compensation benefits for your claim. Even if your employer tells you otherwise, nothing requires you to accept a workers’ compensation settlement.
You are in charge of your claim, and you get to decide whether to accept an offer from an insurance company. The crucial key to gaining full workers’ compensation benefits is knowing whether you should accept a good offer or continue pursuing your claim. Considering all the factors that affect your claim can lead you to the right decision about a workers’ compensation offer.
Work Injuries and Workers’ Compensation Claims in the U.S.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data shows that in 2018, private industry employers reported 2.8 billion nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses. About 900,380 of those employees missed at least one day of work as a result of those work-related injuries or illnesses, and about 330,830 of those employees required a visit to a doctor’s office or emergency room. These numbers also do not account for the 5,250 deaths that occurred in 2018 as a result of workplace injuries, which also can result in workers’ compensation claims.
Furthermore, the combined value of annual workers’ compensation claims stemming from work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths is substantial. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), insurance companies paid out $48,343,292 in claims in 2019. As insurance companies undoubtedly are more interested in making profits than paying your claims, you should be fully informed before deciding whether you should accept your first workers’ compensation offer.
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Factors to Consider When Evaluating a Settlement Offer
Various factors can affect whether a workers’ compensation settlement is adequate for your needs. Some of these factors include the severity of your injuries, whether your injuries are permanent, and if you are likely to need future medical treatment.
If Your Injuries Are Temporary or Permanent
When you receive a workers’ compensation award, you can receive it in periodic payments over time or in a one-time lump sum settlement amount. If you have suffered severe injuries in a workplace accident, you likely have lost income from missing work and incurred substantial medical bills. The pressure of your financial situation may cause you to strongly consider taking the lump sum settlement offer from the insurance company so that you can pay your bills, even if it is a lower amount.
However, you should stop and make sure you are receiving the full compensation for which you are eligible. If you are relatively young, likely to make a full recovery from your injuries and return to your previous job, your need for workers’ compensation benefits may be more immediate and less important in the future.
On the other hand, if you are looking at a severe and permanent impairment that can affect your ability to return to work and support yourself, you may need to consider whether you can stretch the proposed settlement enough to truly meet your needs.
Need for Future Medical Treatment
The likely prognosis or outcome of your injury or illness is also critical in evaluating a workers’ compensation offer from an insurance company. For example, you might need further medical treatment in the future, and you will need to consider the potential costs of that treatment. Once you take a lump sum settlement offer, you cannot get any more benefits from your claim. As a result, if you need additional treatment, you will be responsible for paying those costs.
Likewise, if your injury or illness might keep you from working in the future when you undergo further treatment, you could have a significant loss of income. If the likelihood is that you will suffer from an impairment that will permanently keep you from working, then you may need sufficient compensation to help support yourself and your family.
Learn About the Pros and Cons of Settlement Offers Today
Workers’ compensation claims can proceed very smoothly and quickly in some cases, but in others, they can become complex and lengthy.
Accepting any workers’ compensation offer is always completely voluntary, so you do have options if you reject the first offer that you receive. Your lawyer and the adjuster for the insurance company must try to negotiate a settlement amount that is agreeable to both parties.
Ben Crump Law, PLLC, can help you through the complicated process of evaluating a settlement offer and deciding whether to accept it. Call our office today at (800) 603-4224 to schedule a free consultation.