If you've been injured at work, dealing with your injuries is just the beginning of your struggles as you try to redefine some kind of normalcy in your home. Chances are there may be a part of you that just wants things to be as simple as possible, and that can make just about any settlement offered look appealing. However, simply taking a lump sum payment isn't necessarily the best choice. There are several questions to ask yourself before accepting this kind of payment.
Why is the insurer pushing for a settlement?
Sometimes, an insurance company wants to have a better idea of the total amount that they will have to pay, for their own accounting purposes. It is often in the company's best interests to pay less than a claim is worth. Having the claim wrapped up may bring closure, but it is important to make sure the settlement offered is fair and that it is going to cover the costs of the injury as much as possible.
How much is your current claim worth?
By default, those who receive worker's compensation benefits get a weekly check over a certain amount of time. If you've been receiving weekly benefits, try to determine how long you should expect to receive them, and what the value is overall. Include in your calculations any possible extended benefits, which may come in handy even if though they would be a smaller weekly check. The amount of a lump sum settlement should be close to this amount to be worth accepting.
How long will you continue to be eligible for weekly payments?
The amount of time you can receive benefits is related to how long you are disabled. Going back to work could disqualify you. However, even if you don't return to work, your insurance company may hire an investigator to monitor your level of activity in an effort to discontinue payments. If the insurance company determines that you can work, your payments may stop early.
How much will a lump sum help now?
Depending on what else is going on in your life, taking a lump sum payment can potentially help you out of a financial jam. You might need to quickly catch up on mortgage payments, or you might have a large childcare expense now that will go down in a few months when the child goes to school. By using money from a lump sum payment wisely, you can save on interest, fees and expenses, and give yourself a certain amount of peace of mind. If you do take it, make sure you are playing an active role in determining the actual amount of the check.
Understanding what settlement means in your situation
A worker's compensation claim may pay a combination of weekly cash benefits and medical bills. When you settle, cash benefits stop, but you may still be able to get help with medical bills that are related to your injury.
An attorney can help protect your interests
An attorney can help you determine if a lump sum settlement would be fair and in your best interests. At Dugan & Associates, P.C., we offer free consultations where we can help you take a good look at some of these questions before you give up valuable weekly benefits or miss out on the opportunity that can come from a settlement. By truly examining your needs and options, you can better determine what course of action is best for you.