If you are injured at work, you are likely entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to cover your medical bills and lost wages. After your injury, at some point in time over the life of your claim, the workers’ comp insurance company may offer a lump sum of money to settle your claim. You may be tempted to accept, especially if money is tight when you are not able to work. It’s important to know, however, accepting the first workers’ compensation offer, most likely, is not in your best interest.
You should think carefully before accepting your first workers’ compensation offer. While the offer may seem attractive, it’s critical to consider all the factors that may affect your case. For example, if your injury is serious and requires ongoing medical care or long-term rehabilitation, the initial offer may not cover all your future expenses. Remember – the insurance company is working for your employer – not you – and will offer an amount that minimizes their financial responsibility.
Let’s take a closer look at how workers’ compensation settlements work, factors to consider when determining if the settlement is enough, and what happens after you reject an offer from the insurance company.
How Workers’ Compensation Settlements Work
To receive compensation, you must report the injury to your employer and file a claim with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. You should inform your employer immediately after the incident, preferably within 21 days to receive maximum compensation, even though you can report it up to 120 days.
If notice is given to your employer within 21 days, and your employer and its workers compensation insurance company accept your claim, your wage loss benefits will start on day one. Beyond those 21-days—you’ll have up to 120 to report your injury, but benefits would likely begin on the date of the reported injury and not the date of the injury itself. Failure to report within the 120-day timeframe can lead to a denial of benefits.
At any point in time following the report of your work injury—whether the claim is accepted or denied—either party can attempt to initiate settlement discussions. The settlement process involves negotiations among you, as the injured party, your employer, and their insurer. Settlement amounts are arrived at based on the facts of the case, medical records, time lost from work, disability level, and evidence presented.
While it’s not required to have an attorney represent you, a workers’ comp attorney can help you negotiate a settlement to your best advantage. Remember – settlements are entirely voluntary, and both parties must come to an agreement. Once the agreement is signed, it is final, and no further compensation can be awarded.
Navigating the complicated workers’ compensation system can be challenging, especially if you have been seriously injured. Working with an experienced attorney can help ease the process and secure the settlement amount you deserve. An attorney can help you file claims, review settlement offers, negotiate settlement amounts, and ensure your interests are protected.
Factors to Consider Before Accepting a Settlement
Suffering from a serious workplace injury is always tough. A work-related injury can not only cause complex medical issues but can also affect your financial stability. Accepting a workers’ compensation settlement can provide quick financial relief, but before doing so, it is important to consider a few factors.
To ensure that you receive fair compensation, it is important to be well-informed about your options and the best course of action. Here are some factors to consider before accepting an offer:
The severity of your injury and its impact on your future: Before accepting any settlement offer, consider the severity of your injury and the long-term impact it might have on your life. You should think about your present and future medical costs, lost wages, as well as any ongoing physical or emotional pain due to the injury.
The nature of your work and job requirements: Depending on your job, your injury may prevent you from returning to work in the same job or industry. You should consider how this will affect your future job prospects or career path. You should also consider any lost benefits or job security you may have been entitled to as a result of your injury.
The settlement amount and the insurer’s history: When presented with a settlement offer, it is important to carefully examine the proposed offer and consider negotiating for a higher amount. An attorney who is experienced in workers’ compensation settlements can help you understand what a fair and reasonable offer would be.
Many times, insurance carriers will threaten to move forward certain things—like an independent medical examination, labor market survey or suspension/termination petition—if a claimant refuses to accept its first offer to settle. The best workers’ comp lawyers, however, know what threats are idle and how to handle any action carried thru by the employer or its workers compensation insurance company. Top level legal representation can mean all the difference in the world in this setting.
The implications of agreeing to a settlement: An important factor in accepting a settlement offer is whether you are willing to give up your right to pursue your employer and its insurance carrier for any additional benefits stemming from the work injury. This can have significant implications, especially if you have sustained a severe injury. An attorney can help you understand the implications of your decision and ensure that you are informed and able to make the best decision for your particular circumstance.
The timeline of your case: Workers’ compensation cases can be complicated and can take months or even years to resolve. Consider the timeline of your case and whether the settlement offer is worth accepting, or if it is in your best interest to keep the claim active. An attorney can assist you in weighing the pros and cons of each option and help you understand the time and costs associated with each.
Before accepting a workers’ compensation settlement, it is important to consider these factors that can impact your settlement amount. Seeking the advice of an experienced attorney is critical in understanding what a fair and reasonable settlement amount would be and determining the best course of action depending on your situation.
What Happens When You Reject a Workers’ Compensation Offer
While workers’ compensation benefits can provide you with much-needed immediate support, you may—and probably do—deserve more than what is initially offered in a settlement agreement. Here is what to expect when you’re considering rejecting the initial offer from the insurance company:
Review the Offer with an Attorney
Before rejecting a settlement, it’s essential to understand your rights as an injured worker. It’s best to consult with a workers’ comp attorney who can review the settlement offer and determine if it’s reasonable. If the offer is not reasonable, your attorney can help you negotiate with the insurance company to obtain a more comprehensive settlement.
Be Patient During the Process
The process of rejecting a workers’ comp settlement and embarking upon negotiations can be lengthy. It’s essential to remain patient and work with an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process with confidence.
Rejecting a workers’ compensation settlement is a complex process that requires knowledge of Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation laws. If you are considering rejecting a workers’ comp settlement, it’s important to understand your legal rights and options. With the right attorney on your side, you can achieve a comprehensive settlement that fully addresses your needs as an injured worker.
Workers’ Compensation Law Firm in Lancaster, Pa.
If you’ve been injured on the job, it’s understandable you may want to accept the first settlement offer, but this may not be in your best interest. At Georgelis, Larsen & Sabatino Injury Law Firm, P.C., we have helped countless injured workers negotiate their workers’ comp settlements, so they have peace of mind their futures are taken care of.
Having legal representation ensures you have someone who’s entirely on your side and who can establish the actual value of your claim and what the insurance company may eventually put forward as an offer. Ultimately, it’s essential to have someone that can protect your rights, allowing you to focus on what’s crucial – getting better. We offer free case evaluations and do not charge a fee unless we win your case. Contact us 24/7 at 1-800-HURT-NOW or start a conversation with us online.