Filing for Workers’ Compensation after an on-the-job injury or workplace-related illness can be complex and stressful. Not only must you adjust to the medical condition, but you may have to manage conflicting interests with your employer.
Put simply, your employer and their insurance carrier may define a “satisfactory conclusion” differently from what you consider satisfactory. Therefore, any time you receive the suggestion to settle, you need to ask yourself the following question:
Which is more beneficial for me: settling my Workers’ Compensation case or having the matter decided by the Workers’ Compensation Commission?
Three routes to handle a workers’ comp settlement
There are three ways to resolve a compensable workers’ compensation claim once you have reached “maximum medical improvement”:
When seeking legal advice, a professional workers’ compensation attorney would point out three ways to resolve a compensable workers’ compensation claim:
1) Have the matter decided by the Workers’ Compensation Commission. The Commission will decide what medical treatment you are entitled to in the future, if any. Additionally, they will determine how much you are entitled to for permanent disability. If your condition worsens due to your work injury, you have one year from the date you receive permanent disability benefits to re-open your claim.
2) Form 16. You can reach a mutually beneficial agreement with your employer or insurer that preserves your right to medical care and the ability to re-open the claim if necessary. This type of settlement is commonly referred to as a “Form 16 Settlement” due to the form required by the Workers’ Compensation Commission.
3) Clincher. You can voluntarily, fully, finally, and forever resolve your claim. A clincher is a type of agreement in which a person with a permanent disability is compensated, but they have to give up the right to future medical treatment and the right to re-open a claim if their condition changes. Insurance companies usually offer more money in this type of agreement than with a Form 16.
What about a Workers’ Comp Settlement’s Payouts?
Here are three commonly asked questions:
Will workers’ comp still pay my medical bills?
It depends on how the case is settled. Based on the Commission decision or the terms you agree upon with your employer in Form 16, your employer/insurance company will pay for your medical treatment. However, if you clincher the claim, you are responsible for your future medical treatment.
Can I get disability after a workers’ comp settlement?
Generally speaking, yes. That said, like in the previous case, it depends on how the case is settled.
How is the settlement amount determined?
Let’s state one essential fact first — every worker’s compensation case is different.
We can’t tell you what the specific settlement terms for your case might be because the specifics of each workplace injury, employer, and the insurance company may lead to a different series of calculations. Learn more on obligations and benefits how much is my workers’ compensation case worth?
Compare & Contrast: The Pros & Cons of Accepting A Workers’ Comp Settlement
Handling time: Save time by avoiding a lengthy trial in front of an administrative law judge.
Results: Compensation guaranteed (usually a weekly/monthly payment or a lump sum).
Future negotiations: Eligibility to revisit the terms.
Stress: The relatively short time, knowing that compensation is guaranteed, and avoiding a stressful trial lower the stress level.
Handling time: Longer wait for a court date, hearing schedule, pre-hearing conferences, evidence exchange, etc.
Results: A judge’s decision might leave with either a lower compensation or, in the worst-case scenario, empty-handed.
Future negotiations: You may end up giving up your rights. This is a major risk in case your condition deteriorates.
Stress: Fighting in court for greater compensation while knowing that a judge might not rule in your favor increases the stress.
How to Get Started?
If you are considering filing for a workers’ compensation claim, or if you are unsure of what would be the best strategy to take, here are our two cents:
It is essential to remember that if left untreated, certain workplace injuries can worsen over time. Therefore, it is vital to consult with a worker’s compensation attorney prior to making any decisions regarding settling a claim so that you can be aware of the full scope of potential outcomes.
Prior to consulting with a lawyer, it is important to collect any relevant information regarding the injury, such as medical diagnosis, treatment, the initial injury report submitted to the employer, and all documents sent by the insurance company. Request a copy of the injury report to keep for personal records.
Thus, a professional workers’ compensation attorney will be able to get an accurate look at the larger picture and approach your claim in the best way possible. Watch our leading lawyers discussing workers’ compensation and some issues clients may face: There May Be More to Your Workers’ Compensation Case.
Filing for Workers’ Compensation in Columbia, SC?
If you’re filing for Workers’ Compensation in Columbia, SC, or throughout South Carolina, you deserve legal representation dedicated to fighting for your rights. Settling a Workers’ Compensation case can be complex and time-consuming, and it’s essential to have someone with experience in this practice area on your side.
At Bluestien Attorneys, our Workers’ Compensation team makes it their mission to represent injured workers in South Carolina, and we’re proud of our attorneys’ membership in Injured Workers’ Advocates. To request your FREE consultation, just give us a call at (803) 779-7599 or contact us online at any time.