Due to the uncertainty that surrounds many workers’ compensation cases, it may be in your best interest to settle your claim. Before you commit to a settlement, you would be best served to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney to obtain the best result possible. Settling your workers’ compensation claim essentially means that you will no longer be eligible for weekly or bi-weekly checks. Settlements come in the form of one lump sum, so it’s crucial to make sure that you’re getting exactly what you need to support your family while you recover.
First, your attorney will take you through the process of calculating the value of your current claim. This will allow both you and your employer to arrive at a reasonable settlement amount, should you choose to opt for a settlement. In Alabama, if you are on s. 34 (total) benefits, your weekly check will be multiplied by the number of weeks left on your claim. For example, if you get paid $750/week and have three years left on your claim, the current value of your claim would be $117,000.
Furthermore, your workers’ compensation attorney will also help you calculate the extended value of your claim, which is activated when your current benefits expire. If you are still eligible for compensation because of a lingering injury, the extended value of your claim under s. 34 (total) and s. 35 (partial) would be half of your weekly pay multiplied by the duration of your extension. Generally speaking, extended partial benefits under s. 35 account for 75% of your s. 34 benefit. Therefore, in the previous example, this worker could be eligible for five additional years of benefits at 75% of his weekly pay, leaving them with an extended claim value of $146,250. When added to the earlier amount, this worker would receive $263,250 over time.
Before accepting or declining these fixed payments, you need to look at a number of different factors. If there is a chance of your condition worsening, you may be unable to work for longer than expected. In this case, it would not behoove you to accept a settlement. If you feel as if you are close to returning to work, a settlement may be your best option.
At this point, your attorney can begin to establish a reasonable settlement amount with your employer’s insurance company. In the previous example, this worker would undoubtedly decline a settlement of $75,000. However, if the insurer offers this worker $350,000, then a settlement may be the best possible solution. An experienced and knowledgeable attorney will guide you through this convoluted process to ensure that big insurance companies do not take advantage of you during this vulnerable time.
Call Martinson & Beason, P.C. in Huntsville, Alabama, to talk with a workers’ compensation attorney. We can analyze the details of your situation and advise you on the best way to handle your workers’ compensation claim.