Which Type of Workers’ Comp Settlement is Right for You?
If you have suffered a workplace injury or illness, you may be able to file a claim for workers’ comp benefits depending on the circumstances of your case. Your employer’s insurer generally has 14 days to either approve or deny your claim.
Most workers’ comp claims are approved without much fuzz from insurance companies, but some are unjustly denied. If that is precisely what has happened to you or the insurer is offering a settlement that is much too low to cover your medical and other expenses, you might be wondering what type of settlement you are entitled to.
Workers’ Comp Process
The most crucial thing to do after a workplace injury is to get medical attention. Go to the hospital and let them know you were injured at work. This treatment should be covered by workers’ comp insurance which most employers are required to provide.
Once you have gotten medical care, you have to notify your employer about your situation so they can file paperwork for a workers’ compensation insurance claim. You need to do this as soon as possible to avoid possible complications.
If your injuries are relatively minor, getting the workers’ comp benefits you are entitled to should be straightforward. But things can get complicated if your injuries are severe and the insurance company is facing the loss of substantial capital. You should talk to a lawyer right away at (or before) this point in the process. A workers’ compensation attorney will help make sure you file all required documentation properly.
Injured workers whose claims are approved will usually start getting benefits for medical care and lost wages within a month. However, if the insurer denies the claim, your attorney will work hard to reach a settlement that is beneficial to you. This can either be payments or a lump sum amount.
The Conciliation Stage in Workers’ Comp Cases
Conciliation is an informal meeting where all parties involved in your workers’ comp case meet to discuss what can be done. You and your lawyer will get together with the insurer’s legal representatives and a “conciliator” from the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) to try to come to a financial agreement.
An experienced workers’ comp attorney will present all the facts of your case to negotiate on your behalf and obtain all the benefits you are legally entitled to. Although this all takes time, your lawyer can file a form to request a fast conference. However, it must be shown that you have a hardship that makes it imperative for your conference to be as speedy as possible.
If your attorney is not able to obtain a favorable agreement from the insurance company’s lawyers, the next step is a hearing.
Workers’ Compensation Hearing
After the conciliation stage of your claim, there will be a hearing where evidence can be presented and witnesses questioned. Your Workers’ comp attorney will do everything in his or her power to argue your case to get you the benefits you rightfully deserve.
In the event that your claim is denied at a hearing, your case can be appealed to the DIA’s Reviewing Board. A panel of three administrative law judges will take a closer look at your case to decide whether the denial should stand or not.
If the DIA Reviewing Board upholds the denial of your claim, your workers’ comp attorney can turn to the Massachusetts Court of Appeals.
The Best Workers’ Comp Settlement for You
The workers’ comp claims process we just outlined can take months or longer depending on the circumstances of the case. However, most cases do not go that far since a settlement is usually reached.
If your employer’s insurance company has approached you with a settlement offer that is not in your best interest, you could choose to negotiate with them on your own, but the most advisable course of action is to hire an experienced workers’ comp attorney.
Your workers’ comp attorney can seek a settlement for a lump sum or weekly payments over a set period of time. But which of the two is best for you?
A lump-sum payment refers to a one-time payment made by your employer’s insurance company as a result of a settlement.
The benefits of this type of settlement include:
- A lump-sum payment will allow you to get all your monetary benefits at once and not have to worry about possible future complications.
- Aside from paying all medical bills as soon as possible, a lump-sum payment may open many doors such as training to be able to return to work in a new career.
- The entire process of a lump-sum settlement is much simpler since there is only one payment in question.
Such a settlement is usually with liability accepted or without liability. In Liability accepted lump sum settlements are more common in Massachusetts. These come with a legal obligation on the insurance company to pay for future medical treatment as long as it is deemed reasonable and causally related to the injury in question.
Weekly payments are paid out over a specified period of time. The benefits of this type of settlement include:
- Weekly payments can be useful to injured workers who want to budget their benefits according to their specific needs without temptations to overspend.
- Weekly payments can give you a sense of financial stability since benefits are constantly coming in.
- A weekly payment settlement can be modified if your financial needs change.
Which of these two types of settlements is right for you depends on various factors your attorney can help you consider.
Contact Us Today
Any injured employee who is denied workers’ comp benefits or offered an unjust settlement can benefit greatly from legal representation. This process can involve various complicated steps which can be daunting without a qualified lawyer to help.
Do not hesitate to contact us at the Law Office of Robert E Frawley by dialing (617) 523-2929!