To maximize your workers’ compensation settlement, contact a workers’ compensation lawyer who has experience handling these types of cases in your state. You should also get an objective assessment of your level of impairment and only accept a workers’ compensation settlement once you have recovered as much as possible from your injuries (also known as maximum medical improvement).
Why You Should Not Accept the Insurance Company’s Initial Offer
Workers’ compensation settlements can vary widely, partly because employees can experience all sorts of injuries and some are more serious than others. But another big reason for the variation in settlement amounts is that many people have no idea what their case is worth.
If you were hurt at work and the insurance company offered you a settlement, it may seem like a lot of money at first. What you may not realize, however, is that it will not cover all your future medical costs. It may not fairly compensate you for your lost income or reduced earning capacity either.
Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
A workers’ compensation lawyer can assess the value of your case and determine what would be a fair settlement, given the nature and severity of your injuries. A lawyer can also evaluate your medical records and speak with physicians, surgeons, chiropractors, physical therapists, and others who have treated you. Fully understanding your injuries is important as it will influence your lawyer’s decision on how much compensation to seek.
Get an Independent Disability Assessment
If you have a permanent disability, your lawyer will need to know the extent of your impairment. If you have a minor disability, such as 10% or less, you may still be able to work in your former occupation or in a different field, earn a living, and participate in most or all of the hobbies and activities you used to enjoy.
If you have a 75% disability, you may have limited mobility and suffer from chronic pain. These can substantially restrict your ability to work in your chosen profession, to care for your family, and to participate in hobbies and activities you once enjoyed. If you are substantially disabled, you may be eligible for a significantly larger award than someone with less impairment.
A doctor affiliated with the insurance company will likely examine you and rate your level of disability, but you should get a second opinion. A physician who works for the insurance company may assess your level of impairment at a lower percentage than an independent doctor would. They may also point out something that the insurance company’s doctor did not take into consideration.
After two doctors conduct independent assessments, the two sides may agree on an impairment rating that is higher than the one the insurance company’s doctor initially came up with. A higher disability rating can influence the overall value of your settlement.
Wait Until You Have Recovered to Reach a Settlement
The full extent of your injuries may not be apparent right away. In fact, it may take months or even years to understand their long-term impact. You may recover faster than doctors anticipated, or your recovery may stall. Your condition may deteriorate, especially if doctors underestimated the severity of the harm you suffered or you had other injuries that were missed at first.
It is usually in your best interest to hold off on accepting a settlement until you have reached maximum medical improvement. According to the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), maximum medical improvement is when your condition is “well-stabilized and unlikely to change substantially in the next year, with or without medical treatment.” At this point, doctors should be able to state with confidence that you have recovered as much as possible and figure out what forms of care you may need in the future.
If you rush to accept a settlement before you reach maximum medical improvement, you and your lawyer may underestimate the types of care you will need and accept a settlement that does not cover all your anticipated costs. Once you accept a settlement, you will likely not be able to modify it to get more money.
Seek Help from a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Pintas & Mullins Law Firm has represented thousands of clients across the United States in workers’ compensation cases. We understand that it may be tempting to accept an insurance company’s settlement offer, especially if you are out of work and struggling to cover necessities, such as your mortgage and groceries. This decision could backfire, however, if you find yourself with expensive medical bills and not enough money to pay them.
A workers’ compensation lawyer with Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help. If we are unable to agree on a settlement amount with the insurance company, we can take your case to trial to seek the compensation you deserve. You may have to wait longer to receive financial compensation, but it is often worthwhile if you can get more money by going to court.
Our team of workers’ compensation lawyers is ready to fight for you. To learn more, contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 529-9122 for a free consultation.