Workers’ Compensation cases can get tricky, especially when financial elements and the discussion of whether or not to accept a cash settlement is in play. Cardinal Law Partners understands how frustrating it can be to navigate a workers’ compensation claim. That’s why we’ve broken down the ins and outs of cash settlements for workers’ compensation. We’ll cover everything from what it means to accept a settlement with workers’ comp to the pros and cons of accepting a settlement.
What is a cash settlement for Workers’ comp?
In the event of a workplace injury, employees are often entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. In these circumstances, employees can make a workers’ comp claim to receive benefits in the form of hospital bills, ambulance transportation, portions of missed wages, and temporary or total disability payments. Insurance companies may accept the claim and offer an employee a disability payment as well as funding for medical bills.
It is important to note that settlements for workers’ compensation are voluntary. The employee has the option to either accept the offer provided by the insurance company and employer or to pursue a decision from the Industrial Commission. Cash settlements for workers’ compensation cases are alternatives to the litigation process before the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
Types of settlement arrangements for workers’ compensation
Workers’ comp cases involve two primary types of settlement arrangements. The first is a lump-sum settlement, wherein the employee signs a settlement agreement ceding certain rights in exchange for a one-time, lump-sum payment from an employer or the employer’s insurance company. The other type of settlement arrangement is a structured settlement, in which the employee will receive smaller payments over a longer period of time. This period of time could extend from one year to ten years and beyond.
How long does it take to receive a workers’ compensation cash settlement?
Once an employee agrees to the settlement of a workers’ compensation case, the amount of time it may take to receive the cash settlement may vary. A general rule of thumb is that it will take 4-8 weeks from the time the agreement is reached until the cash reaches the client. Upon the cash settlement being reached, the employer’s attorney will draft the settlement contracts to be signed by both the attorneys and the employee. Once signed, the contract must be submitted to the Industrial Commission for approval. Finally, after the contract is approved by the Industrial Commission, the employer’s insurance company has 24 days to get the check to the injured worker or their attorney.
Deciding whether or not to accept a workers’ comp settlement
As expressed above, settlements are voluntary and can be disputed or simply not accepted. There are pros and cons to accepting a workers’ compensation settlement. On the positive side, settlements are guaranteed and definite. Cash settlements guarantee employees a certain amount to be paid without dispute or question. While the amount may not be what an employee feels is fair, it is certain, which can be reassuring in otherwise unreliable circumstances. If an employee decides to not take the settlement, the claim will proceed to a hearing. The Industrial Commission will make a decision on medical treatment and disability compensation rather than the parties. Decisions made by the Deputy Commissioner are typically appealed to the Full Commission and even sometimes the North Carolina Court of Appeals. This risks the Industrial Commission ruling in favor of the employer, potentially leaving the injured employee with little or no benefits.
Conversely, some individuals may choose not to settle if they foresee future medical treatments that will be necessary to remedy their injury (i.e. surgery, expensive long term medications, and continuous doctors’ visits). In this sense, it may be smarter to not accept a cash settlement for workers’ compensation. Settlements and their variability differ by state, so working with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer is the best way to make a fully educated decision.
If you or a family member need assistance with cash settlements for a workers’ comp case, call the team at Cardinal Law Partners. We are experienced in handling workers’ compensation cases and will be more than happy to help you get the settlement you deserve. Call 833-444-4257 to contact us today!