Settlement sounds great. It means you can move on with your life. It generally means the insurance company pays you a lump sum check. But before you decide to settle, you need to know some reasons you should not settle your case now.
Two things you must know about settlement
I often get asked about workers’ compensation settlements. One question I get asked is when and if people should settle their workers’ compensation cases. The answer to this question often depends on the particular circumstances.
The two most important facts to understand about settlement are:
- You do not have to settle your case
- Settlement of a workers’ compensation case is final
Before reading further, take another look at #1. It is very important to understand that you do not have to settle your case. Ever. Since you do not ever have to settle your case, that also means that you do not have to settle your case at any particular time.
Now, take another look at #2. You need to know that settlement is final. Once your case is settled, you cannot go back and change it. When do you decide to settle, you need to make a good decision.
Don’t rush into a settlement
Before you settle your workers’ compensation case, here are some reasons that you might want to consider not settling yet.
You are still getting medical treatment
You can settle your case at any point. That means you can settle your case weeks, months, or years after you get hurt.
It is almost never a good idea to settle your case right after you get hurt. You do not have enough information yet. You probably do not yet know how bad your injury will be.
To make a good decision about settlement, you really need to know what medical treatment you will need in the future. You also need to know how long you will likely be out of work. You need to know how your injury will affect you in the future.
Without this information it is difficult to know how much you should accept to settle your case. Your decision about settlement is almost always better if you can predict the future as accurately as possible.
How can you accurately predict future medical treatment and disability?
I am not a fortune teller. I cannot predict the future. However, part of my job is to give advice about settlement.
That advice includes considering what will likely to happen to my clients in the future. This is very difficult to do soon after their injury. But it becomes easier to do more accurately as time passes and they get medical treatment and testing.
It is often best to wait until you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) to decide about settlement. MMI means that your doctor believes you are as good as your are likely to get. Then, you should have a pretty good idea of what the future will hold.
Is waiting always best?
No. Sometimes, you may want or need to settle your case sooner rather than later. Maybe you can get back to work after settlement. Maybe you do not want the medical treatment the doctor wants to perform. Maybe you just have to settle.
Settlement is about making the best decision for you. Sometimes, waiting is not a good option. Just make sure that you make the best decision about when to settle your case.
Questions about settlement
You can also get more detailed information by reading my more detailed article about settlement.
One of the best ways to get your questions answered is through a free consultation with one of our firm’s workers’ compensation attorneys. Many people have questions about what a free consultation is and how long it will last.
To help explain that, we have put together an article that explains that process in workers’ compensation cases. That article takes you through the whole process and explains how to set up a free consultation.
Jason Perkins is an attorney who specializes in representing injured workers. He regularly blogs about Georgia’s workers’ compensation system and issues that are important to injured workers and their families.
You can subscribe to his Georgia Workers Compensation channel on YouTube.