DO ALL WORKERS COMP CASES END IN A SETTLEMENT?
Workers' compensation is a form of payment designed to help the worker recoup lost wages, medical expenses, disability, or any other expenses resulting from a job-related injury.
Workers' comp (or workman's comp) cases very often do end in a settlement. However, the value of the settlement payout will depend on several important factors.
My name is John Bruscato — I'm an experienced workers' comp attorney in Monroe, LA, and in this article, I'll explain why some cases end in a settlement offer while others don't.
If you're an injured worker and are wondering if your claim is eligible for a fair settlement offer, contact Bruscato today to discuss the details of your case and learn more about your legal options.
How Workers' Compensation Settlements Work in Louisiana
Workers comp cases are a lot like personal injury cases in the sense that the more serious the injury, the greater the likelihood of a settlement. For example, if you have a permanent disability or total disability, you are guaranteed to receive compensation.
Yet even without disability, most workers' comp cases still end in a settlement, which means that the insurance company offers a lump-sum or weekly benefits payments to the injured worker for a specific time period following the injury.
Workers' comp benefits may be used to cover:
Past and future medical care
Before you think about how large of a payout you could stand to receive from your work injury, you need to make sure to follow all the steps in the claims-filing process first.
Like any other legal case, you need to gather evidence, make sure you can present a strong case, and prove that you were indeed injured on the job. Because if you can do that, you'll stand a far better chance of getting your claim approved and receive a settlement offer from the insurance company.
Here's a brief overview of how the claims-filing process works in Louisiana:
Report the accident — You must report the accident, injury, or illness to your employer within 30 days of it happening or you discover it. Once you notify your employer of the accident, they will file a claim on your behalf with their workers' comp insurance provider.
Seek medical treatment — Get medical attention as soon as possible and follow the doctor's orders. Be honest about what happened, and don't exaggerate the severity of your injury.
Contact an attorney — Workers' compensation law is complex, and a professional attorney can help you defend your case and fight for your rights to fair compensation. I recommend scheduling a free consultation to discuss the nature of your workers' comp claim.
An experienced attorney knows how to navigate each step in the claims process and handle most of the work for you, including dealing with claims adjusters, organizing the evidence of your case, and presenting a strong argument defending your position.
If you have a legitimate claim because of a workplace injury, you will most likely receive a settlement offer from the insurance company. The only caveats to this that may exclude someone from workers' compensation are if:
The employee intentionally injured themselves
The injury happened because the employee was under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Now that you know how workers' compensation claim settlements work, let's take a moment to discuss the different types of settlement agreements on the table.
Workers' Comp Settlement Options in Louisiana
According to the Louisiana state legislature §1271, it is the right of parties to settle or compromise. In other words, settlements are entirely voluntary: the injured employee cannot force the insurance company to settle, and vice versa.
In Louisiana, settlements are indeed voluntary for both sides. Under state workers' compensation law, there are two main types of settlements of claims.
Lump-sum settlement agreement — A lump sum settlement, as the name suggests, is a discrete, one-time payment from your employer or its insurance company. A lump-sum is usually the result when there is no real dispute about whether a claim is valid or not.
Compromise settlement agreement — A compromise settlement is the most common type of settlement. Unlike a lump-sum, a compromise resolves a dispute between the employee and the insurance company about how much compensation the injured worker is owed.
While lump-sums and compromise settlements are the most common in Louisiana, there are a few less common types of workers' comp settlement agreements to be aware of.
Structured settlement — A type of settlement where the injured employee is paid in smaller, discrete fixed payments over time, potentially in the months or years time range.
Combination settlement — A type of settlement where it is agreed that only part of the claim is compensable, while the rest is disputed. A combination settlement is a combination of a lump-sum and a compromise settlement agreement.
Partial settlement — Lastly, a partial settlement is where specific individual claim components are settled, while others aren't.
Factors That Determine the Value of Your Settlement
The value of your settlement will inevitably come down to a few key factors. These factors include:
The severity of your injury and associated medical costs
If you're unable to return to work due to the injury
The weight and amount of evidence
While these factors are few, each one has the potential for endless debate and negotiation with an insurance claims adjuster. This is where a workers' comp attorney can intervene and help you calculate a fair settlement offer for your case.
Do All Workers' Compensation Cases Go to Trial?
In all my experience navigating the workers' compensation system, the vast minority go through legal proceedings in court.
When they do, it's either because the insurance company failed to offer a settlement to the injured worker or because the insurance company and the worker couldn't reach an agreement. In either case, the next step is a hearing before a judge.
When a workers' comp case goes to trial, both sides present their evidence of why the injured party is or isn't entitled to workers' compensation, and the judge ultimately decides the case ruling.
When to Accept and When to Refuse a Settlement Offer
Before accepting any settlement offer, I recommend speaking with an attorney. Remember, once you accept your offer, there is no going back. For this reason, you want to be sure that the settlement on offer for your workers' comp benefits is enough to cover the extent of your injury and associated expenses fully.
On the other hand, if you choose to refuse a settlement offer, your claim may be brought to an appeals board or litigation in court, creating the possibility for the judge to rule in the employer's favor, thus leaving you with little to nothing in terms of compensation.
Ultimately, a settlement guarantees a certain amount of benefits for your injury. In contrast, litigation comes with much more risk and complication. An experienced attorney can help make the right decision. An attorney can also help you consider how wage loss, medical bills, and future medical care may factor into your calculations to come up with a fair settlement amount to fight for.
Need Legal Advice? A Workers' Comp Lawyer in Monroe, LA Can Help
Not every workers' compensation case ends in a settlement, but many of them do. The workers' compensation attorneys at Bruscato Law Offices can help you receive a fair settlement from your work-related injury.
Workers' compensation law is complex, and there is no need to go through the process alone. We are available to discuss every detail of your case, including potential medical benefits, disability benefits, medical costs, legal proceedings, and more.
And remember: we do not get paid unless you win — and scheduling an initial consultation is FREE.