When we discuss a settlement for a workers’ compensation claim there are several things we need to discuss at the outset. First, what is it that the injured worker wants to accomplish via settlement. Second, is the injured worker receiving sufficient compensation based on the terms of settlement.
When we discuss the idea of what an injured worker wants to accomplish via settlement what I mean by this is does the injured worker want to settle the claim and move on the another employer or does the injured worker want to settle the claim and move forward with applying for Social Security Disability or does the injured worker want to settle the claim but continue to work for the employer or settle the claim but continue to receiving ongoing medical treatment via the workers’ compensation claim. Believe it or not, all of these may be options when we discuss the idea of settlement for the workers’ compensation claim.
One option for the injured work is to settle the claim via a compromise settlement agreement. This involves the employer or workers’ compensation insurance carrier paying a lump sum of money to the injured worker and in exchange the injured worker is agreeing to waive any further rights to medical compensation or disability compensation related to the injury at work. This may be a good option if the injured work cannot or does not want to return to work for the employer. If the injured workers wishes to explore this type of settlement then the main concern is whether the amount being agreed to for the compromise settlement agreement if enough to represent the potential future medical compensation and disability compensation which the injured worker is waiving any rights to receive as part of the terms of the compromise settlement agreement.
If an injured workers is wishing to explore this type of settlement then I always advise they speak with an attorney prior to agreement to any terms of the compromise settlement agreement so that they can obtain legal advice about what benefits they may be able to obtain via a compromise settlement agreement and so that they have a clear understanding of what rights they are waiving when entering into a compromise settlement agreement.
Another option for the injured worker is to settle for just the payment of a disability rating. This involves the employer or workers’ compensation insurance carrier paying compensation to the injured worker based on the percentage of disability assigned to the injured body part. This option allows the injured worker to continue working for the employer and allows the injured worker’s entitlement to medical treatment to remain open so that they can seek additional medical treatment for the work injury in the future.
If an injured worker is wishes to explore this type of settlement, then there are several things to consider. First, the injured worker needs to make sure the disability rating assigned by their treating physician is the appropriate percentage of disability for the injured body part. Any time there is a question as to the appropriate percentage of disability being assigned to the injured body part the injured worker may want to obtain an 2nd opinion about the percentage of disability assigned to the injured body part prior to agreeing to payment for the disability rating. In some instances, the employer or workers’ compensation insurance carrier will agree to 2nd opinion concerning the appropriate disability rating or in some instances a motion will have to filed with the N.C. Industrial Commission in order to accomplish the 2nd opinion in order to obtain information about the appropriate disability rating.
Second, when there is a settlement just for payment of the disability rating for the injured body part, future medical treatment remains open, but there are limits as to how long this entitlement to further medical treatment can remain open.
Given the issues concerning the disability rating, the possible need for a 2nd opinion as well as the limitations and facts to ensure the injured worker entitled to ongoing medical treatment, I recommend an injured work speak with an attorney concerning these issue prior to agreement to terms of settlement for payment of the disability rating for the injured body part.
If there are ever any questions about these options for settlement and which option may be best in your case, please feel to contact Cardinal Law Partners in order to speak with one of our board certified workers’ compensation specialists.
Disclaimer: The content on this blog is prepared for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.