Most workers believe that, by settling their Workers Compensation claims, they can quickly receive a large sum of money. However, before you make such an important decision you should understand what you could be relinquishing in the process. The reality is, your weekly benefits and medical payments could be jeopardized. Considering that, it is wise to discuss all of your options with our Rogers Workers Compensation lawyer before you decide how to resolve your Workers Compensation claim.
When you settle you will likely lose your weekly benefits
If you settle your Workers Compensation claim, you will typically stop receiving your weekly benefits payments for that specific injury. The reason is that the settlement of your Workers Compensation case closes that portion of your claim. It is possible that you may be eligible for compensation for the time you were unable to work as a result of the injuries you sustained. The specific amount of the compensation is ordinarily a percentage of your wages at the time of your injury. In most states, the percentage of compensation is 66 2/3%. You could also be eligible for wages equaling the amount of your employee benefits.
Your medical payments will likely to continue
Some states allow Workers Compensation insurers to terminate medical benefits when a claim has been settled. There are other states that allow you to continue to receive medical payment benefits after you settle your Workers Compensation claim. But, even in states that allow your medical benefits to continue, some insurers are unwilling to do so after the claim has been settled. If this is the case, it may be necessary for you to file a separate claim to force the insurer to pay. A Rogers Workers Compensation lawyer can help.
Determining the amount to accept in settlement of your Workers’ Compensation claim
Determining the value of a Workers Compensation settlement is quite different from a personal injury claim, for instance. The settlement amount has nothing to do with pain and suffering and everything to do with future benefits. In most cases, a Workers Compensation settlement will be based on two factors: the amount of Workers Compensation benefits to which you may be entitled in the future, and the likelihood that you might actually receive those benefits.
Estimating the amount of future Workers Compensation benefits
In order to calculate your future Workers Compensation benefits, the main factors to consider are (1) the medical evidence submitted in your case and (2) how long you would be able to receive those benefits according to the applicable Workers Compensation laws. For example, if you have been determined to have a temporary total disability, which all of the physicians agree will last for another two years with no permanent impairment, then you would be entitled to two years of temporary total disability benefits. In that situation, a reasonable lump sum settlement in your case would be equivalent to two years of temporary total disability benefits.
Should I consider a stipulation instead of settlement?
Many Workers Compensation cases are resolved by stipulation, as opposed to settlement. When parties stipulate to a Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) award, they are stipulating to the degree of disability and the employee’s entitlement to future medical care, to be covered by his or her employer’s worker’s compensation insurance. This is the best way to protect your rights to future medical care for your injuries.
What does a stipulation provide?
With a Stipulation, you are entitled to reopen your case within 5 years of your date of injury to obtain additional benefits for new and further disability. Temporary disability, however, is limited depending on the date of injury. When the parties establish a stipulation regarding a PPD award, they are agreeing to the following:
- The claimant is disabled;
- The claimant will receive a specific PPD award;
- There is no need for a hearing on this matter;
- The claimant may reopen their claim within 5 years; and
- The claimant is entitled to reasonable medical treatment for the injury for the remainder of their life.
How is a stipulation different from a settlement?
Agreeing to a stipulation is different from reaching a settlement, in that the claimant cannot reopen his or her claim and cannot receive any future medical treatment unless it is specifically addressed in the settlement agreement. It is crucial that employees understand that, if they settle instead of entering into a stipulation, they are waiving all future rights to any benefits that are not expressly included in the settlement agreement.
If you have questions regarding Workers Compensation settlement or stipulation or any other Workers Compensation issues in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation, either online or by calling toll-free at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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