How much money should you expect from a workers’ compensation settlement? There are many factors that will determine the answer.
When you file a workers’ compensation claim, your employer’s insurer may offer a settlement based on what they think is fair to cover your medical bills and any disabilities caused by a work-related injury or illness.
You may be tempted to just take whatever they offer without asking questions. After all, the workers’ compensation process is a hassle, and the last thing you need is more stress in your life when you need to focus on your recovery.
But the fact is you do have the right to seek a better deal if the settlement offer is inadequate. A workers’ comp attorney will help you determine exactly how much you qualify for and negotiate a fairer settlement.
The amount of medical benefits you’re entitled to depends on the nature and extent of your injuries.
According to the Missouri Department of Labor, there are many questions that must be addressed before you can accept a settlement offer for medical benefits:
- How much are your out-of-pocket medical expenses?
- Have all of your medical expenses been paid?
- Do you have ongoing medical expenses? These include prescriptions, orthotics, prosthetics or other medical devices.
- Have you incurred any travel expenses related to treatment of your injuries?
- Will the settlement affect other benefits such as Social Security, Medicare or unemployment?
- If your injuries were caused by an auto accident and you are suing the at-fault driver for liability, how will that affect your settlement?
Avoid accepting a settlement until your doctor determines that you have reached maximum medical improvement. This means either that you have fully recovered or that you have recovered as much as possible but still have some type of permanent disability.
Accepting a settlement before completing medical care is extremely risky because you may not know what future treatments will be needed. Also keep in mind that your personal health insurance may exclude coverage for work-related injuries.
You may qualify for additional compensation if your injuries leave you with either temporary or permanent disabilities.
There are several issues to address when determining a fair disability settlement:
- Appropriate payments for time off work during recovery
- Whether you are able to return to work during recovery
- Whether you are ever able to work again
- The types of work you are able to do, if at all
- Whether you qualify for benefits from the Second Injury Fund
- How a settlement would affect other benefits, including Social Security, Medicare or unemployment
- Whether accurate wage information was used in calculations
A temporary disability means you will eventually be able to work after either recovering from your injuries or reaching maximum medical improvement.
- If you miss work for more than three days because of a workplace injury, you are eligible for temporary total disability, which is 66 ⅔% of your average weekly wage, not to exceed a maximum established by law.
- If the doctor determines that you are able to return to work before reaching maximum medical improvement, you may qualify for temporary partial disability. During this time your employer may assign you to light duty or modified responsibilities, often for lower pay. Temporary partial disability is calculated as 66 ⅔% of the difference between your pre-injury wages and the amount you earn during the disability period.
You may qualify for permanent disability benefits if your doctor determines that you will have ongoing impairments after reaching maximum medical improvement.
- Permanent partial disability means you are able to work at some jobs but not others. Payments will equal 66 ⅔% of your average weekly earnings on the date of your injury, not to exceed a maximum set by law.
- Permanent total disability means you are no longer able to work at any job and may receive weekly payments for life. Payments will equal 66 ⅔% of your average weekly wage at the time of injury, up to a limit set by law.
Remember, accepting a settlement closes your case completely and is extremely difficult to reverse, so you only get one chance to make the right decision. A qualified workers’ comp attorney will make sure you get the correct amount you are entitled to, and that you fully understand the terms of your settlement before you sign on the dotted line.
Are you unsure whether to accept a workers’ comp settlement offer that has been presented to you?
Contact The Alberhasky Law Firm right away to schedule a free consultation.