Many work-related injuries get better in a few days or weeks, and the worker can work at their previous job once again. Unfortunately, a few hurt workers don't get better and are ruled to have a permanent injury. When that happens, the usual workers' comp insurance benefits change from a partial disability wage to a lump-sum payment. Read on to find out what hurt workers should understand about workers' comp settlements.
Settlements vs. More Disability Wages
When a worker's injuries don't heal in a given time, they may be asked to undergo a special medical exam known as an independent medical exam (IME). This exam helps the workers' comp agency to understand more about an injury and to get an idea of if the worker can return to their previous job. In some cases, the doctor decides that the worker may continue to improve with more medical care and time. Those workers may continue to receive the weekly disability wage and medical care.
Other workers' may be told that they are healed enough to return to their job. If you have been told to go back to work by your workers' comp doctor, the insurer or your employer and you don't agree with the decision, you have a right to appeal it. A few workers are found to be at what is known as maximum medical improvement (MMI). This means that no further improvement is expected. Those workers have permanent injuries and will never be able to return to their previous jobs.
The Settlement Offer: Structured or Lump-Sum
Once MMI is established, the hurt worker is offered a settlement. The settlement might be a lump sum or made up of regular payments. Regular payments (also known as a structured settlement) may turn out to be a better choice since they often provide disabled workers with a higher overall payout. Lump-sum settlements, on the other hand, provide the hurt worker with a large single payment and gives them more flexibility in the way it's used. Be sure to discuss the ramifications of each option with a workers' compensation lawyer who can advise on you that choice as well as the way your settlement could affect Social Security benefits. You can be paid both workers' comp and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) in some cases.
Don't try to negotiate a workers' compensation settlement on your own. You need funds to cover the remainder of your time prior to retirement age, and you need to get what you deserve. As soon as you are ruled to be at MMI, talk to a workers' compensation lawyer about your settlement and let a professional take that burden from you.