When it comes to collecting worker’s compensation, typically all you will read about is how you want to get as big of a settlement as possible. You want a settlement that covers your medical bills and any disability that you may be left with. However, what if you aren’t getting the settlement you want?
This doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t offering you as much money as you think you deserve, but rather your settlement offer comes with certain stipulations. This could be forcing you to quite a job that you love or even not offering you enough to even remotely cover your medical bills, let alone any future treatment.
The unfortunate reality is that a lot of injured workers try to tackle workers’ compensation alone and end up accepting that first big dollar amount that they see without much thought into the future. Even worse is that workers may not feel like they have any choice but to settle. They don’t want to go through the fuss of a court case and want their benefits as soon as possible. However, you can be sure that if a claims adjuster is putting pressure on you to settle and not to go to court, then there is a good reason for it. If you take your workers’ compensation claim to court at the advice of your attorney, you will probably get the results you want.
When to Not Settle
Don’t get it wrong, there is nothing wrong with settling a worker’s compensation case if the settlement offer is fair. If it covered your medical bills, wage loss, and any vocational training, you shouldn’t expect to get anything more even if you do go to court. The workers’ compensation court can only award benefits you are owed to-date. A judge cannot award future benefits. However, you should almost never settle for anything less than that if you have the medical support to buttress your claims. One of the biggest reasons to take your case to court is if you have proof that the amount they are offering is not enough to cover your current costs of your injury.
Furthermore, you shouldn’t settle if that settlement comes with unreasonable stipulations. While employers can’t fire you over a work injury, they can make a settlement contingent upon a resignation and release from employment. This may include an agreement never to work for the employer again, or a settlement of employment law claims. If you have a separate employment discrimination claim, and no additional consideration is being offered for that claim, it probably is not wise to settle your case.
However, what if you love your job and know that you can still do it? Do you have to change to another one? No, you don’t. If you can still do your current job, you shouldn’t have to settle for another position just because they demand it in your settlement agreement. There may be circumstances where it could be very difficult to find a new job and the money being offered doesn’t compensate you for the immediate loss of income. However, you may have to prepare yourself to make concessions if a doctor states that you probably can’t return to your job even on modified duty. If you physically cannot do your old job, no matter how much you love it, your employer does have the right to transfer you somewhere else within the company or refuse to offer you work if they can no longer accommodate your restrictions.
So what do you do if it seems like the entire world is putting pressure on you to settle? Don’t. You should definitely at least consider the advice of your lawyer, but if they want you to settle because it gets you the highest dollar amount and not the results that you actually want, it is time to reconsider. You want a lawyer that is on your side, always. A lawyer that isn’t afraid to go into the courtroom because it will be harder than just getting a settlement agreement approved.
If you have been hurt at work and are beginning the worker’s compensation process or if your process has already stalled at settlement, contact us today. Unlike some lawyers, the Law Office of Joshua Borken isn’t afraid to go to trial to fight for the results you want in the court room.