A workplace accident resulting in a job-related injury or illness may qualify you for workers’ comp. In Florida, workers’ compensation will provide you with a wage replacement and medical care benefits, given on a week-by-week basis for up to 104 weeks or until you are physically able to return to work. However, you may be wondering if your workers’ comp case will end in a settlement instead.
The answer to this is not definite as it varies on a case-by-case basis; here is what you need to know.
Injured At Work: Will I Be Offered a Settlement?
Not every workers’ comp claim will end in a settlement offer. For cases that involve minor injuries that require a few days or weeks of missed work are unlikely to qualify. The cases that do end up in a settlement are ones where the workers’ injuries are severe and will require ongoing benefits for a long period of time, such as a permanent disability.
A settlement might be proposed by either side if there is protracted litigation over disputed claims or mounting medical costs.
Must I Accept A Settlement Offer?
While insurers can offer a settlement at any time, you cannot be forced to settle your case.
You are free to refuse the settlement and continue to collect the remaining workers’ compensation payments that are available to you. If you are offered a workers’ comp settlement in Florida, it is important to first understand the ramifications of accepting a settlement.
How Much Will I Receive?
Settlement offers are based on the severity of the injuries, the extent of permanent impairment, the amount of unpaid medical bills, whether future medical treatment is needed, whether you can return to work and if there are any unpaid temporary benefits that may incur late penalties.
The 3 Types of Florida Settlement Agreements
The settlement agreement being offered to you depends on the rights you are willing to give up and the manner in which money is to be paid out.
1. A Lump-Sum Settlement
With this kind of settlement, you and your employer agree on a value amount for the basis of the claim. A lump-sum payout will then be provided to you for your injury by your employer.
You may be able to settle both the wage loss and medical claims during settlement negotiations, but once the settlement is finalized, you will no longer receive workers’ compensation benefits.
The ramification of this is if your injury takes longer than expected to heal, you will be “footing the bill” and you will not receive additional compensation for it.
2. A Structured Settlement
With this kind of settlement, you can have the money adjusted into an agreed-upon schedule between you and your insurance company. This is often done if you are worried that a lump-sum payment will not last long enough for future expenses, or if there may be tax implications from receiving a large payout (can impact Social Security Disability).
3. A Full & Final Release of Liability/Partial Release Settlement
With this kind of settlement, you relinquish your right to workers’ comp benefits for the injury, which includes any unidentified work-related injuries or illnesses that happened prior to the settlement.
In very rare cases, a limited settlement can be negotiated to provide you with money but in exchange, you must give up your right to some benefits such as permanent impairment.
If Offered a Settlement, Should I Accept It?
The answer to this depends on your current circumstances and on what the future of your health looks like. Individuals with workers’ comp settlement offers, consider the following factors:
- If recovery is on hold and your health is not improving.
- If you will be out of work for months/years.
- If the settlement is fair and provides peace of mind.
- If more surgery is needed.
- If you are okay with leaving your current employment.
- If your claim is in dispute and you may lose at trial.
- If you want to regain control over how your injury is medically treated.
- If in accepting the settlement, repayments are required to other benefit providers such as Medicaid, Medicare, or private health insurance.
If you choose to accept a settlement offer and have hired a workers’ comp lawyer, you can settle the claim at any time. If you do not have a lawyer, you can only agree to a full and final lump-sum settlement if the insurance company denies your workers’ comp claim, a judge finds legitimate disagreement for entitled benefits, or you have reached maximum medical improvement where your medical condition is stable but will not improve further.
What is the Best Way to Navigate Settlement Offers?
To ensure that you fully understand the settlement offer being presented to you and the terms & language that come with it, it is best to hire an experienced workers’ comp lawyer. At Frank M. Eidson, we can help you evaluate the offer, provide clear and detailed explanations of the ramifications of acceptance, and will negotiate on your behalf to make sure that you receive fair compensation.
We are here to help you through every step of the settlement process.
To find out if your workers’ comp case is likely to end in a settlement offer, please use our contact form for a no-obligation case review, or give us a call at 407-245-2887.