Should I Settle my Workers’ Compensation Case as the Insurance Company or Attorney wants me to Settle?
The decision to settle can never be an easy decision to make. Many different factors need to be weighed into your decision. It is imperative that all of your options have been thought out so that an informative decision can be made.
Benefits Available to the Injured Worker
In first evaluating whether a settlement is reasonable or whether you should even consider settlement, you first need to keep in mind what benefits are available to you.
Workers’ compensation in Minnesota pays for only four types of benefits: wage loss, permanent partial disability, vocational rehabilitation, and medical expenses. Workers’ compensation does not offer pain and suffering, loss of consortium, emotional distress or even punitive damages. Consequently, a comparable case in let’s say a non-work-related accident that would be brought in civil court would not have the same value as a workers’ compensation case. Primarily, there are a different set of rules and benefits that are available. Therefore, it is important to know what your past, present and potential future benefits may be so that you can make an informative decision about settlement.
Expert Opinions and Support for your Case
Another factor that needs to be looked into is what type of support you have for your case. In other words, what are your doctors, physicians, medical professionals saying about your case. Are the doctors saying that you are as good as you are going to get or are they saying that you may need future surgery? Are you back to work at full wages or is it unclear as to whether you will need to be retrained to get back to work? There are a lot of different questions that need to be asked and taken into account by and through your doctors, physicians, and even QRCs to determine whether or not settlement is right for you.
You also need to decide on what type of settlement you would be interested in agreeing to. Quite often, the insurance companies want to pay a sum of money in order for you to “go away” completely. At times, this could even include future medical benefits. As a result, it is important to weigh your options as to whether a settlement on a to-date basis versus a settlement that will pay you more money but may close out any and all benefits in the future. Again, not every settlement is right for one type of case.
Lastly, a decision would need to be made about the ultimate number placed on the settlement. In discussing the money associated with settlement, all of the above factors need to be taken into account and weighed to make an appropriate determination as to the appropriate settlement.
Recently, the Department of Labor and Industry performed a survey of injured workers after they had gone to trial or settled their case. Less than 20% felt that they had improved, while 35%-45% felt that there was no change, and 40%-45% felt that they had gotten worse.
Overall, the best piece of advice is to make an informative decision by asking questions and trusting the professionals you work with. It is extremely important that if you are working with a lawyer that you are working with one who is experienced and knowledgeable in the area of workers’ compensation who can appropriately guide you and provide you with good and honest advice. Our office practices exclusively workers’ compensation and has been doing so for over 30 years. If you wish to discuss your case, please feel free to contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
About the Author
Jerry Sisk started his legal career on the defense side of workers’ compensation before switching to the petitioners’ side and representing injured workers. He has found that his prior defense experience has provided him with great insight when dealing with employers and insurers, which has assisted his clients greatly in getting the benefits they deserve. His peers have recognized him in Minnesota Law & Politics as a “Rising Star” for 2007, 2008, and 2009. This designation is given to only 2.5 percent of Minnesota attorneys each year who are 40 or under, or who have been practicing for 10 years or less. You can reach Jerry at his law firm, Mottaz Law.