The workers’ compensation program offers medical and wage benefits to people who sustain disabling injuries or conditions related to their work. In some circumstances, you could collect a weekly or biweekly check for the rest of your life.
Many people prefer cash in hand to a periodic payment, and it is possible to get a lump sum settlement in certain cases. Insurers are often willing to negotiate workers’ compensation settlements in Huntsville, so never accept a settlement proposal before speaking to an experienced workers’ comp attorney.
When Settlement Might Be an Option
There are two situations that might give rise to settlement negotiations with a workers’ compensation insurer. If the insurer denies an initial workers’ compensation claim and the worker takes legal action, the insurer might be willing to settle the claim. The other situation that often leads to settlement negotiations is when the worker is entitled to permanent disability benefits.
Initial Claims Denials
Workers’ compensation provides necessary medical treatment and a basic safety net when workers cannot do their jobs due to injury or a work-related condition. It is meant to be a no-fault program because workers give up their right to sue the employer for negligence in most cases.
However, employers sometimes deny liability for an employee’s injury or condition. Reasons for denial include that the worker may have:
- Intentionally caused the injury
- Violated an employer’s safety rule
- Failed to use the safety equipment provided
A Huntsville attorney could push back against these claims, advocate for the worker’s right to receive benefits under the program and help them secure a fair compensation settlement. Employers and their insurance companies wrongly deny many claims and an experienced trial attorney may be able to help. Don’t just accept the insurance company’s denial without consulting skilled legal counsel. At the Blackwell Law Firm, our attorneys have prepared many workers’ compensation cases for trial. We have a long track record of helping injured workers win the benefits they deserve.
Permanent Disability Benefits
Employees whose work-related injury or condition prevents them from doing their job receive temporary disability benefits for up to 300 weeks. After the cut-off point, the worker may be entitled to permanent partial or total disability benefits. Permanent disability benefits are also triggered when the treating doctor declares the worker has reached the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI).
Disability benefits are calculated by a formula that takes into account the worker’s pre-injury wages, the body parts affected, the extent of the lost functioning, and the disability’s impact on the worker’s ability to return to their job or do any other job. When a worker disagrees with any aspect of the insurer’s decision regarding the extent and impact of their disability, they could challenge the decision in court, possibly resulting in a settlement. If you have a permanent disability or impairment, talk to an experienced lawyer about the benefits available.
Settlement Procedures in Workers’ Compensation Cases
When a worker disputes the workers’ comp insurer’s decision on their claim, the insurer often offers a settlement. Ideally, a settlement should be a negotiated agreement. When both parties negotiate in good faith, reaching a settlement before a claim goes to court is often possible.
We believe the best settlements are obtained by fully preparing your claim. At the Blackwell Law Firm, we start by providing advice and help to our clients as they navigate the medical treatment process. Then, we work with the physicians and experts to prepare your case for court. This hard work positions your claim for the best possible outcome.
The Department of Labor provides a free mediation service to parties disputing workers’ compensation claims. An official called an ombudsman facilitates negotiations between the parties and can approve any settlement they reach, which means court approval is not necessary. Our attorneys are experienced at preparing workers’ compensation claims, mediating workers’ compensation claims, and going to trial in workers’ compensation claims. Our goal in every case is to get you the maximum benefits provided by state law.
Deciding Whether a Settlement Is Advantageous
Settlements often benefit both parties because each has certainty. However, the insurer has no obligation to settle and might decide to defend a challenge in court. Even when the insurer loses the case, they could opt to make the payment in weekly or biweekly increments.
Alabama law does not require lump sum settlements, but they are possible in many circumstances. An injured worker might prefer a lump sum in cash, and an insurer often has less liability in the long run if they settle with a lump sum rather than making periodic payments for years. It is important to note, though, that insurers often make other demands in return for providing a lump sum. For example, the settlement agreement might include language that requires the worker to give up any claims against third parties or waive their right to ongoing medical care and vocational training. Workers also must consider how a settlement might impact their eligibility for Medicare, Social Security Disability payments, and any private disability coverage they might have.
These are all very important issues that should not be decided without consulting an experienced and knowledgeable attorney. Anyone considering a workers’ compensation claim settlement should collaborate with an experienced attorney in Huntsville to evaluate whether the settlement amount meets their long-term needs.
Consult a Huntsville Attorney Before Accepting a Workers’ Compensation Settlement
The workers’ compensation program is supposed to protect you, but employers and their insurers often work to prevent you from getting the benefits you earned. They do not hesitate to take advantage of unwary employees by offering inadequate settlements.
At The Blackwell Law Firm, we put our extensive experience to work for you. When we handle a workers’ compensation case, we bring years of real courtroom experience. We know workers’ compensation law well. Because of our experience, we are frequently asked to teach other lawyers about work comp law. We understand your rights if injured. During our free consultations, our mission is to help you understand your rights and options in plain terms. Do not engage in negotiations regarding workers’ compensation settlements in Huntsville without the help of an experienced local lawyer. Call today to schedule your case evaluation.