Q: Should I accept my employer’s workers’ compensation settlement offer or stick with the scheduled payments? How do I know if the offer is a good bargain?
Some workers’ compensation claims are fairly straightforward and resolved in a cooperative manner between worker and employer. Then again, some others drag out with a surprising amount of conflict and confrontation. At the beginning, it’s hard to tell which way a claim will go—but the more money involved, the more resistance the worker might expect.
The more difficult a claim becomes, the more tempting it can be to accept a settlement offer—even if you suspect the amount is unfairly low—just to end your frustrations. But really, who can blame you? After all, you’ve already dealt with countless pieces of paperwork, numerous calls from the insurance company, and multiple doctor’s exams, all while trying to recover from your injuries. It’s no wonder that you’re willing to forfeit your rightful benefits for a little peace. Unfortunately, this outcome is what the insurance company hopes for when they offer you a settlement that is a fraction of what you deserve.
In some cases, accepting a lump sum settlement over continual payments can be the most convenient and calming choice—but is it the best choice for you?
Making an Informed Decision
It’s important to know that a workers’ compensation settlement is completely voluntary. No matter what your employer may tell you, if the insurance company offers you a large, one-time payment to replace your on-going, routine compensation payments, you don’t have to accept it. The decision is completely up to you.
Balancing the value of your financial recovery against the peace of mind that comes with concluding your claim can be lopsided at times. On the one hand, taking anything offered to avoid further harassment and stress can seem worth it. On the other hand, the future expenses of your injury may cause just as much stress and heartache, if not more. Therefore, when making your decision, it’s important to consider how the following factors may tip the scales one way or the other:
- The scope of your disability. If you’ll only be out of work for a short time, a settlement may allow you to neatly tie up loose ends and receive your money straight away. If you’re facing permanent disability, a generous lump sum settlement may allow you to pursue new treatment or receive training to move on to a different job within your new limits. However, if your injury causes long-term disability and requires extensive treatments, you may benefit more from the scheduled payouts, as they will ultimately cover more expenses for a longer period.
- The prognosis for your condition. If your injury is expected to heal well and you’re in good health, there may not be much risk in accepting a lump-sum settlement. Uncertain futures and the potential for your condition to deteriorate, however, would favor a long-term payout or option to renegotiate. One of the primary risks with accepting a settlement is that it could close your claim, and eliminate your ability to adjust the amount or scope of your benefits should your condition continue or get worse.
Just as every injury and recovery is different, each workers’ compensation claim has its own set of risks and rewards that must be carefully weighed. The offer of a lump-sum settlement makes it even more important to assess your future needs carefully. To protect your rights, it is best to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney before making any life-altering decisions. Contact Steve Lee by phone (713-921-4171) today to schedule your FREE consultation.