In Alabama (and most other states), a primary goal of workers’ compensation is to provide injured employees with needed medical care. The first goal, when possible, is to treat and rehabilitate the injured person so that he or she may return to gainful employment.
By law, employers must have coverage which provides needed workers’ compensation benefits to workers. In the past, I have written about workers’ compensation insurance carriers collecting profits for providing coverage and then trying to shift costs to other sources. Often, cost-shifting means the government pays for the benefits. That costs all of us.
In many workers’ compensation cases, the insurance carrier’s attorneys will want to close medical benefits. That is, they will want you as the injured worker to give up your right to medical treatment for some sum of money. I usually advise clients to resolve only the portion of their claim for disability benefits and to leave medical benefits open.
Yet, some lawyers who represent injured workers will routinely agree to such settlements without fully considering the problems created for the client. That is a terrible way to represent workers. Before settling a case by closing medical benefits, the injured worker and his/her attorney should carefully consider the issues.
When Medicare is involved (or has the potential to become involved) the issues are even more complex and important. Attorney Kristina Thompson of the Jernigan Law Firm in North Carolina recently wrote an excellent blog post that addresses the closure of medical benefits when Medicare is an issue. Kristina’s opening paragraph accurately sums up the issue:
Will Medicare cover my future medical expenses for my workers’ compensation injury if I settle my case? Yes, no, maybe…the answer to this question is always a tricky one. In fact, this is one of the most complex questions that will confront an injured worker at the time of settlement.
If you have been injured in an on-the-job accident, the potential for Medicare exists, and the insurance carrier wants you to settle your rights to medical care, you should read her post. Think carefully about your medical rights.
The Blackwell Law Firm represents injured workers across Alabama. Our goal is to obtain the maximum compensation available for injured clients. We ONLY practice personal injury law. We focus all our study and effort in one area of the law so that we can best serve our clients. If you have questions about a personal injury issue, give us a call. We are happy to discuss your issues. All consultations are free and confidential.