If you become injured at work in Oklahoma, you are entitled to certain benefits that pay for medical treatment and lost wages if your employer has Workers’ Compensation insurance. These benefits are paid out over time as you accrue medical expenses and as regular wage replacement payments. But sometimes Workers’ Compensation may choose to offer you a settlement. Here’s what you should know.
What is a Settlement?
A settlement is basically an official agreement intended to resolve a dispute. An Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation settlement is when the insurance company agrees to pay you a lump sum amount to cover your medical expenses and lost wages instead of regular benefit payments over time.
It is important to remember that accepting a Workers’ Compensation settlement is completely voluntary. Neither side can be forced to settle and a judge cannot award a settlement.
Are There Different Types of Settlements?
Workers’ Compensation settlements can come about in different ways:
- You may propose a settlement to the insurance company for their consideration.
- The insurance company may offer you a settlement agreement.
- Your Workers’ Compensation claim could be denied and you could be offered a settlement after negotiations.
Typically, Workers’ Compensation will choose to offer you a settlement if the cause and result of your work-related injury is obvious and/or there is the potential for expensive, long-term care. You should always remember that insurance companies always seek to reduce risk and costs for themselves – a settlement offer is not always in your best interests.
You should consult at length with an experienced Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Attorney to determine if any settlement agreement is in your favor. They can help you calculate your present and future needs and examine any settlement agreement wording for hidden clauses that could have an adverse effect on you.
What Could Affect My Workers’ Compensation Settlement in OK?
Your employer and the Workers’ Compensation insurance company will consider several factors before deciding to offer you a settlement or accept one proposed by you. These can include, but are not limited to:
- The type and severity of your injuries
- If you qualify for permanent or total disability
- If you are capable of going back to work
- Your expected future wages and earning capacity after becoming injured
- Your current medical expenses
- Your estimated future medical expenses
Other significant factors that could influence your Workers’ Compensation settlement agreement, and possibly cause delays, include disputes over the facts in your case and the insurance company’s willingness to compromise to reach a fair settlement.
Your employer or insurance company representatives can question virtually any aspect of your Workers’ Compensation claim. This would typically be seen when you propose a settlement agreement. Possible disputes can include:
- Your diagnosis
- If your injuries occurred on the job
- If your injuries were self-inflicted
- If the claim was filed correctly
- How much compensation you deserve for your injuries
A seasoned Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Oklahoma from The Armstrong Law Firm, PLC in Tulsa can help you gather verifiable evidence to back up your claim and speed the settlement process.
Unwillingness to Compromise
Whether you propose a settlement or one is offered to you by the insurance company, completing the agreement can be delayed by an unwillingness to compromise. This depends largely on the status of the insurance company and if they feel they need to fight for every dollar. Conversely, you may also refuse any settlement offer you and your attorney believe is too low or otherwise inadequate.
Discuss Any Settlement Offers with an OK Workers’ Compensation Attorney
On its face, any settlement offer can look attractive – a lump sum of money when things are tight can seem like the perfect solution. But there are different types of settlements and you should not accept any offer without discussing it with an experienced Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Attorney. The Armstrong Law Firm, PLC knows how to review any settlement offer and make sure it meets your needs. Our primary focus is on your best interests – not those of the insurance company.