As with other personal injury cases, workers' compensation claims are usually settled before they can reach the lawsuit stage. Avoiding court is beneficial to both the claimant and the insurance company. After receiving an offer for settlement from the insurance company, you must decide whether to accept it. If you are unsure if you should continue with your claim or settle, here is what you need to know.
Is It Time to Settle?
Your workers compensation attorney will likely advise you to wait to settle until you have reached the maximum medical improvement stage. In other words, you should wait until your doctor has determined that your medical condition has reached the highest level of recovery possible. At this point, further treatment likely will not help to improve your condition.
Settling before reaching that point could result in unpaid medical bills if you need further treatment. By waiting until your doctor has agreed your condition has reached its peak, you can make sure that all your medical expenses are paid.
What About Future Medical Bills?
One of the misconceptions about all workers' compensation claims is that once it is settled, the insurance company has no responsibility towards paying any future medical expenses that are caused by the need for further treatment of the initial workplace incident. In some cases, this is true. In others, there is a way to ensure that the insurance company must take responsibility for medical bills.
If your doctor has stated that you will need future care, funds for the care can be included in the settlement. You can opt to receive payments in the future or you can receive a payment now to be used in the event you need future care. Your attorney will help you determine which is best for your case.
Can You Change Your Mind Later?
The settlement agreement that you sign with the insurance company is legally binding. Once it is signed, you and the insurance company have a legal responsibility to honor the agreement. Even if you believe that the settlement was not fair, you likely do not have any options available to you.
To avoid this, you need to thoroughly review the offer with your attorney before signing. Unfortunately, the insurance company might attempt to pressure you into settling the claim. Remember, this is a tactic by the company to settle. You have the right to review it and decide whether it is fair to you.