Employees who are injured at work deserve compensation for their injuries. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy for them to get the compensation they deserve. Workers’ compensation claims typically involve a very specific process. Many involve a settlement. If your attorney can reach a settlement with the workers’ comp insurance company, your claim might be over sooner, allowing you to move on with your life.
How Workers’ Comp Settlements are Reached
If an employee has completely recovered and returned to work with no outstanding bills or unpaid benefits, their worker’s comp claim can simply be closed. However, a claim can also be closed by reaching a settlement negotiated between the insurance carrier and the ill or injured worker’s attorney. The worker can accept a settlement instead of continuing to receive regular benefits checks, but it is critical that they have an attorney to ensure they receive enough to cover their future costs.
Settlement negotiations begin with a workers’ compensation attorney determining how much the injured worker deserves for future benefits and making a demand to the workers’ comp insurance company. Then, the insurance company will make a settlement offer to the claimant with the demand and other circumstances in mind. This offer is generally less than the claimant demanded, so negotiations often ensue to reach a fair settlement.
There are two types of settlements in California workers’ compensation cases:
- Compromise & Release (C&R) – This waives the right to seek future medical benefits or reopen the claim within five years from the date of the injury.
- Stipulation – This provides a settlement for any disability benefits, but still allows the claimant the right to seek future medical benefits and to reopen the claim within five years of the injury.
A skilled lawyer can determine which type of settlement is best for your situation.
Reaching a Settlement
The employee and their workers’ comp attorney will need to calculate what they believe the payout should be before a settlement can be reached. The settlement should be large enough to cover previous medical care and future medical costs. The settlement should also account for:
- Future medical treatment costs
- The necessity of future treatments, such as surgery or physical therapy
- Future wage loss
- Temporary or permanent disability payments
- Attorney fees
- State workers’ comp laws and restrictions
Whatever type of settlement you might agree to, a judge will need to review and approve it to ensure it’s fair to you and covers all of your bases.
After the Settlement
Once you have agreed to a settlement, you will need to sign some paperwork. Your attorney will review it and explain the terms of the agreement. Then you can receive your settlement funds. It is important to carefully plan how to allocate your settlement funds so they support you for your future. If you cannot earn income – or you can only earn limited income – due to your injury, you want to make sure that your workers’ compensation settlement provides the financial security you need to cover your bills and expenses.