Obtaining a Workers’ Comp Settlement
After a work injury, it’s likely that at some point, the insurance company will offer you a settlement. Alabama’s injury laws encourage these settlements, since they help reduce the number of workers’ compensation claims that our courts must handle. However, not every workers’ compensation settlement is in your best interest.
Before you respond to a settlement offer, it’s important to understand your rights as well as what you’re entitled to.
What Happens When I Settle a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
In Alabama, it’s not uncommon for injured workers and employers to disagree about workers’ compensation claims; employers and their insurance companies want to reduce their out-of-pocket costs, so they are skeptical of even legitimate injury claims. When these disputes happen, settlement negotiations are equally common.
When you settle a workers’ compensation claim, you accept a lump-sum of money. In exchange, you give up your valuable workers’ comp benefits. In other words, you may give up your right to ongoing, disability benefits and other compensation in exchange for a specific amount of money.
Do I Have to Give Up My Right to Medical Care?
Unlike some states, Alabama workers’ compensation laws assume that you will continue to receive medical benefits after your settlement — unless you specifically give up that right. For this reason, many employers and their insurance companies will offer you an additional sum of money to give up your medical benefits.
While it is tempting to take the extra cash, you should always exercise caution before you give up your medical benefits. In many cases, injured workers require medical care and treatment well into the future. For example, joint replacements can wear out, complications can occur, and you may need ongoing testing and pain management services. If you waive your right to future medical benefits, you will have to figure out a way to pay for all of these services.
For this reason, it’s best to consult with an experienced and knowledgeable workers’ comp lawyer in Alabama before you agree to the terms of a settlement. Too frequently, we meet with injured workers who thought they had negotiated a “good deal,” only to discover that their settlements can’t cover their lifetime medical needs.
Settling an Alabama Workers’ Comp Claim
To help alleviate pressures on our court system and to help people get fair compensation, Alabama encourages meaningful settlement negotiations. It offers services like mediation and alternative dispute resolution that help injured workers and employers find common ground and resolve their disputes out of court.
While everyone has the right to their day in court, our system recognizes that trials take time and involve risk. A settlement reduces this risk, ensures that you get compensation, and can streamline an otherwise contentious and complicated process.
What Is My Claim Worth?
The settlement value of your workers’ compensation claim will depend on a variety of factors — and you should never assume that your case is “just like” someone else’s. When you work with Petro Accident & Injury Attorneys, we will help you identify the issues that both strengthen and complicate your workers’ compensation claim. They may include:
- Severity of your injuries
- Your ability to return to work
- Your average wage rate
- Complexity of your treatment plan
- Your need for ongoing medical care
- Whether you have permanent limitations
- Whether someone died due to a workplace injury or illness
- Procedural issues and defenses that may complicate your claims
We treat our clients with respect and understand that their claims are as unique as they are. We don’t apply cookie-cutter solutions in our workers’ compensation settlements, and we give our clients the time and knowledge necessary to make smart decisions about their future.
How Do I Know Whether My Settlement Is Fair?
In most workers’ compensation settlements, you need the court’s approval before it becomes final. If you mediate your claim, this process is streamlined, but you will have a chance to appeal if you discover new evidence within a period of time.
If you do not mediate your case, a judge will evaluate your settlement and decide whether it seems fair. But you shouldn’t rely on the judge alone. Rather, it is in your best interest to consult with a workers’ comp lawyer early on. That way, you can negotiate with confidence and know that you have someone who is fully on your side advising you about your rights and legal options.
Learn More About Workers’ Comp Settlements
If you have questions about a workers’ compensation settlement, request a consultation with an Alabama workers’ comp attorney at Petro Accident & Injury Attorneys. We can help our clients negotiate or fight for a settlement that reflects their long-term goals and needs. Contact us today to learn more.