Insurance companies and injured workers do not always see eye-to-eye when it comes to workers’ compensation benefits. Some injured workers feel that their employer’s insurance company is trying to pay them as little as possible for their work-related injuries. This situation can be resolved in a formal hearing with the Workers’ Compensation Commission, but in most cases, the parties will reach a settlement on their own.
Should you accept a settlement? Or is it in your best interest to present your case to an administrative law judge? Here are the pros and cons of accepting a settlement:
Pro: Accepting A Settlement Saves Time
If you want to reach a resolution as quickly as possible, it’s best to accept a settlement instead of waiting for an administrative law judge to hear your case. Why? It can take a long time to schedule a hearing, attend pre-hearing conferences, exchange evidence, and present your case to the administrative law judge. The longer it takes to reach a resolution, the longer you will have to wait for your benefits. If you want to speed up the process as much as possible, make an effort to reach a settlement with the insurance company.
Con: A Settlement May Not Cover All Future Medical Expenses
Some settlements provide injured workers with a lump-sum payment for future medical expenses. But, the road to recovery is unpredictable at times, so it’s hard to figure out exactly how much you will need for your future medical expenses. If you underestimate your future medical expenses, you could end up accepting far less than you will need to cover these bills.
This is one of the major risks of accepting a settlement. However, it may be possible to negotiate an agreement that settles your right to disability benefits, but not your right to future medical expenses. This way, you can ask the insurance company to pay for your future medical expenses as they are incurred instead of estimating them at the time of your settlement.
Pro: Avoid the Risk of A Hearing
There’s no way to predict how a hearing will turn out. There’s always a risk that the administrative law judge will award you less than what the insurance company is offering. If you are not willing to take this risk, you may want to accept the best settlement offered by the insurance company so you can avoid the hearing altogether.
Con: You May Not Understand the Terms
You should never sign a document unless you fully understand what it says. But, a workers’ compensation settlement may contain a lot of legal jargon that you are not familiar with, which makes understanding the terms very difficult.
Don’t make the mistake of signing an unfair settlement simply because you didn’t understand the terms. To avoid this problem, hire an attorney who has plenty of experience helping injured workers reach favorable settlements.
If you have been injured at work, contact the attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. at once. Our experienced attorneys will aggressively negotiate with the insurance company to ensure you are awarded the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve. Call us at (918) 582-2500 or toll-free at (800) 722-8880 or complete the simple form below for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.