Under Illinois’Worker’s Compensation Act, workers have the right to accept a lump sum benefit or settlement for their injuries versus accepting ongoing payments.
Were you injured at work and receiving benefits from the worker’s compensation program? Are you considering accepting a settlement offer but are not sure if it is a fair amount to cover your medical care based on your average weekly wages?
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, our personal injury attorneys can provide immediate legal advice concerning your workers’ Comp case to ensure you only accept the settlement offer based on your accurate damages. Call an Illinois workers comp attorney today at (888) 424-5757 to get the compensation you deserve from a workers’ compensation settlement.
Employers and their insurance carriers often strive to offer a lump sum settlement as it usually terminates any further payments to the employee for their injury. Thus, a workers comp settlement could cost them less in the long run.
A seemingly significant lump sum benefit may look enticing to an injured worker but it’s advisable to get a lawyer’s contact information for legal counseling. However, the injured party must have legal counsel to help determine whether a lump sum payment workers comp settlement is in their best interest.
Often, the amount offered is inadequate to cover their current and future financial costs and lost wages for their injury.
Pros and Cons of Lump Sum Workers’ Compensation Settlements
Any injured worker offered a single payment benefit or settlement from their employer or for their work-related injury must evaluate both the pros and cons of accepting the payment.
Sometimes, an employer or their workers’ compensation insurance carrier offers a single payment benefit believing it will cost them less money over the long term.
However, there are times when a lump sum workers comp settlement may also be in the best interest of the worker as well. When offered a single payment, an injured worker should consider:
- How the settlement will affect their rights to benefits such as current and future medical treatment and medical care
- How long they will be unable to work and their lost wages
- The possibility of their medical condition getting worse and resulting in higher medical bills.
- The need for medical benefits for permanent impairment or total disability payments from a work injury following the loss of average weekly dues.
- Whether the single payment is enough to cover their medical expenses and time loss costs for their injury
Many injured workers quickly accept a settlement offered by their employer or insurance company because of pressure from medical bills and lost wages. These people often fail to consider the medical expenses of future medical treatments, how long they will be unable to work, or whether they will be able to work again at all.
Once an employee accepts a single payment and the Illinois Industrial Commission agrees with the contract, the employee most likely is not eligible for any additional Workers’ Compensation benefits for their injury. Hence if the worker’s health worsens going forward, medical bills will pose a financial challenge.
However, there are possible pros or benefits to accepting a workers comp settlement contract for a work injury. In some cases, an employee may risk not receiving any benefits or less than the workers’ comp settlement amount yet medical expenses need payment
Especially in injury cases that are difficult to prove whether their work environment caused the injury or illness, an injured worker may be better off accepting the settlement versus risking losing in a trial plus the lost wages.
Lump-sum workers’ compensation settlements have a lot of pros, such as those mentioned below:
- If you receive a payout workers’ compensation settlement, neither your employer nor any insurance agency will be paid the money.
- You will save time and stress from filing legal claims with an attorney or going to court.
- It usually costs less than litigating your case in a courtroom or negotiating with the insurance company on your own.
In some cases, there’s a con to these settlements too.
The process is too much for most people, and so they end up settling with their employers without seeking help from an attorney who can ensure that they don’t shortchange themselves of what is rightfully theirs from work accidents.
How Worker’s Compensation Settlements Work
In case of a work injury, the plaintiff applies for workers’ compensation, a form of insurance.
Once accepted, the plaintiff will receive a percentage of their salary until they recover or are released by the doctor to return to work. The workers’ comp settlement amount you receive will depend on various factors, including:
- Nature of your injury
- Degree and complexity of treatment you need
- Your age and sex (in certain states )
- Length of your employment and years since last claim (sometimes)
Sometimes, insurance companies do not accept claims based on defensive medicine. They may refuse to compensate you if they feel that you were attempting to receive compensation for a situation out of your control.
If you cannot reach an agreement with your employer, access attorney advertising for an experienced lawyer to fight for the compensation you deserve.
Attorneys have helped thousands of people who suffered workplace disabilities get much more than what they would have received from their insurance company without legal representation.
Workers’ Compensation laws differ depending on the state that issued your policy. In some states, such as California, only an attorney can help you with your workers’ compensation claim because of the convoluted legal system in place there.
Each state has different laws that apply to this area of insurance, and each claim is treated differently within each state.
Worker’s Compensation Settlements are Not Taxable.
Irrespective of the kind of injury, worker comp settlements are not taxable. In fact, when you receive your compensation, you can deduct any fees or expenses related to obtaining the settlement.
You should keep all documents relating to the injury and its treatment. They will come in handy when negotiating with insurance companies. If you have a lawyer handling your case, they will insist on it.
Types of Workers’ Comp Settlements
Injured workers get one of the two types of worker compensation settlements:
- Systematic settlements
With a lump-sum settlement, you get a one-time payment to cover all of your damages. However, the single payment amount may not be enough to cover extensive medical bills and future losses associated with your injury.
You should opt for a lump sum worker compensation settlement if the injury does not require continued doctor visits or if the future medical expenses are likely to be less than you would receive through systematic payments.
If your work injury keeps you from returning to your job, a lump sum payment settlement may also work in your favor.
Structured settlements last over time and provide tax advantages.
In exchange for the safety net that structured settlements provide, injured workers give up their right to seek further compensation in the future for any secondary or additional injuries connected with their original incident.
Systematic worker compensation settlements provide monthly cash payouts over an extended period of time. Some workers prefer this option because it gives them cash flow, especially those who rely on second jobs for additional income.
Structured payments often come with restrictions; for example, injured employees might lose their right to future wage claims in exchange for receiving a lower payoff amount each month.
This means injured workers need legal advice to understand the payment structure and make informed decisions about what might be best for them personally.
How Workers’ Comp Settlements are Calculated
The calculation process of worker compensation settlement depends on the type of injury. Injuries such as back injuries or lost limbs will have a higher settlement than other medical malpractice cases, which may only cause sickness or temporary pain.
However, the latter cases can benefit the injured worker because they are easier to prove and, therefore, come with lower workers comp settlements than single-car accidents and amputations.
The first step is finding out how much you need and how your workers’ comp claim is calculated. Advertising on some states’ websites shows where plaintiffs can find out their regions’ average workers’ compensation settlements calculations.
After that, it’s important to hire an attorney. If you get a lawyer, it’s important not to file any cases on your own because many states will not allow that, and duplicate lawsuits can occur.
For example, if the same physician or hospital injures two people, both patients must hire the same attorney to avoid a conflict of interest.
Do You Accept Workers Comp First Offer?
Accepting the first workers’ comp case offer does not necessarily mean you will receive a less favorable settlement amount in the end. You can, however, expect to be compensated faster and may need to pay little or no legal fees.
On the other hand, if your employer denies your claim, they might also want to settle it fast, so you are given no time to consult with a lawyer.
While many people handle their workers’ compensation claims by themselves, others prefer hiring lawyers for help.
The latter group has the distinct advantage of being able to invest more time and effort into researching their workers’ comp cases and building up evidence such as medical reports. This kind of preparedness is useful, especially if the defendant’s insurance company decides to prolong case proceedings to wear you out.
Average Settlement for Workers Comp
The average settlement for workers comp cases is around $2,000 to $40,000. The settlement amount of money you can get depends on how bad the injuries are. The workers’ comp settlement is much less than other injury settlements because the compensation insurance companies split your award with your employer, who also had to pay for medical bills.
It would help if you remembered that many states follow a ‘reservation of rights’ principle when settling workers’ compensation claims. Under this legal doctrine, if the defense company later finds out they had overlooked some important evidence at the time of settlement, they are still allowed to pursue their case.
The only exception would be when the injured worker is awarded a settlement from an employer who had violated workers’ compensation law in some way, in which case all other claims against third parties are waived.
Settling for a Back Injury
If you’ve sustained a back injury at work, you can settle for a different fair amount of money for different reasons.
The first thing you’ll need to decide is whether or not your injury was work-related. If it wasn’t and it occurred because of a previous condition, your employer will try to get out of paying any compensation.
On average, you can get $20,000 and $25,000 for a back injury, but the process can take up to a year.
Duration of Workers Compensation Settlements
Typically, workers’ comp cases take from one year to 16 months from the worker’s comp claim date.
It is not unusual for these cases to take much longer if there are prolonged negotiations over a settlement agreement or a client chooses to go to trial. Only 20% of the cases are resolved within the first six months of the injury.
Not All Cases End in a Settlement
Workers comp cases only reach the courtroom in most cases because the insurance company refuses to pay the workers’ compensation settlement due to the lack of agreement between them and the plaintiff.
How to Protect Workers’ Comp Settlement
Protecting your workers’ comp settlement is possible through several avenues. Some people choose to purchase private disability insurance, especially if they are still young enough in their careers to risk additional premiums.
This type of coverage will pay benefits regardless of whether you have a workers’ comp claim open or not.
Another option is to purchase casualty life insurance in an amount equal to the amount you receive from your workers’ compensation settlement. This kind of policy is considered ‘catastrophic.’
It pays only when death occurs and does not provide monthly payments if disabled. If you are already receiving monthly benefits as part of your workers’ compensation settlement.
But, this may be a cost-effective way to protect yourself financially during a long period of disability.
The laws governing these matters can vary widely between states.
However, there is always one constant: it pays to know your situation and what you should expect as far as time limits and settlement amounts are concerned before accepting any personal injury settlement amount.
Workers Compensation Attorneys to Get the Best Settlement Offer
Each worker’s compensation claim is unique, making it challenging to know you are accepting the best settlement offer.
The best way to evaluate your work-related injury case is by retaining an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. An experienced lawyer with a proven track record has knowledge and resources that can help their client achieve the highest settlement amount possible.
They can evaluate your case from various angles, including medical costs documentation, the employer’s medical treatment policy, and trial precedents. Most importantly, a reputable lawyer knows a fair and reasonable workers’ compensation settlement value for your injuries based on all these factors.
One important thing to keep in mind when considering settling your case, any offer made by the workers’ compensation insurance company should never be assumed to be final.
An experienced lawyer can help you understand the true value of your case and not just what the insurance company may offer. An educated and informed decision is critical in successfully settling a workers’ compensation claim.
Structured Settlement for Total Disability Payments
Some workers choose to wait until they reach Maximum Medical Improvement before accepting any settlement offer. Reaching your MMI and getting a Permanent Impairment rating (if applicable) can help you understand how long future medical treatment will be needed for the injury moving forward.
Of course, there is always a risk when settling one’s case– but waiting means more uncertainty as well.
Some of the most common reasons that people choose to pursue a structured settlement are:
- The injured worker is not able to return to their previous employer yet they need to pay for medical costs.
- An injured worker is disabled and cannot work for an indefinite amount of time,
- An employee suffered serious permanent injury that leaves them unable to ever return to
Many people are unaware that their injuries could be worse than they believed after being diagnosed by medical professionals or receiving care from hospital staff.
Sometimes mistakes will occur during medical treatment, which may lead to additional confusion and worries among patients who have been harmed without any outside interference.
However, once the case is settled, your workers’ comp attorneys will ask the insurance company to provide you with a structured settlement quote for your case.
Structuring the Settlement
Structured settlements are an excellent alternative when you are seeking workers’ compensation settlement amounts.
These types of workers’ compensation settlements can provide you with regular checks from an insurance company for an extended period of time– possibly until your death.
A structured settlement ensures that you will have money available to you in the future when medical bills pile up and other expenses arise. One advantage that a structured settlement offers over monthly compensation checks, for example, is flexibility.
If you choose to terminate structured payments early, not all of the money that has been accumulated will be released.
In fact, much like in life insurance policies, only a portion of your total cash value may be paid out in a single check. The remainder will remain invested through an annuity or trust.
This way, you have the ability to access lump sums of money in addition to the regular checks that will be coming your way for some period.
When this option is available through a workers’ comp settlement, one frequently chosen by workers and their families, it can give them relief from stress that they may feel due to financial concerns or other factors that may arise with the development of future complications.
Along those lines, participating in a payment structure can also provide workers an increased feeling of security, knowing that regular payments will be coming for years to come instead of having all their compensation tied up if they cannot work again.
Some people like the flexibility that comes from having a structured settlement. This allows them to take advantage of opportunities that arise during the period in which they are receiving their payments.
However, it is important to understand that if you terminate your structured payout early, not all of the money will be paid out at once. If you wish to access more than what remains on your annuity policy, you will need to purchase life insurance equal in amount.
If you have a pending workers’ compensation lawsuit and would like additional information about structured settlements that may be available for your case, please get in touch with Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers today!
Do I Need a Workers’ Comp Attorney?
Here are some tips on choosing the best workers’ compensation attorney to get the most from a workers’ comp claim.
- The first thing you should do is find out if your case is better handled by a lawyer or on your own. You can usually handle a workers’ comp claim without one, but you will probably want to have one in this case.
- Look for experience, not just licenses or certifications. A lawyer with a lot of experience in handling workers’ comp claims will be better equipped to succeed on your behalf than a lawyer who doesn’t have much experience at all.
- Ask for recommendations from other people who have hired a workers’ comp lawyer in the past. If they did well for them, then you can probably expect good things from them as well.
- Make sure that you agree with your lawyer on how they will be paid and what is expected of each party before you hire them. This will make it easier to resolve any conflicts that come up later on.
- A lawyer with a good track record of success in negotiating with a workers’ compensation insurance company is more likely to be able to get you the results that you want from your workers’ comp claim.
How Much You Can Expect in a Workers Comp Settlement Agreement
Workers’ compensation benefits are determined by the nature of the injuries, plus any aggravating factors that may have contributed to the extent of the injuries and sometimes even by the employee’s pre-existing condition.
This makes it very difficult to determine just how much money you can expect from a claim. However, some general guidelines can help give you an idea as your compensation case plays itself out.
For example, a broken wrist is generally compensated for at about $3,000 per month. That may seem like a hefty price tag, but it does not count for any future complications that the employee could also face.
Hire a Workers Comp Attorney To Get The Compensation You Deserve
Did your employer’s insurance company deny your workers’ compensation claim, or do you feel that your current benefits are not enough? If so, contact the lawyers at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers today to explore your options!
Call our Worker’s Compensation attorneys today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact information form to schedule a free consultation. Let us help you negotiate and accept a settlement offer based on the accurate value of your claim based on available medical benefits.
All sensitive or confidential information you share with your workers’ comp lawyer remains confidential through an attorney-client relationship. We can fight on your behalf to ensure you receive compensation for all future medical expenses to treat your injury or illness.