There are a number of different factors that affect when workers comp will offer a settlement for your on-the-job injury. Some settlement offers may be extended within a matter of days, while others may take multiple years. Every case is different, so it will largely hinge on the particular facts and parties involved in your case.
How Fast Can a Workers’ Comp Case Settle?
Your workers’ comp case may settle in a matter of days or weeks, but many of them take at least several months. Many workers’ compensation settlements free the employer and insurance company of any financial liability for any medical bills you incur as a result of the injuries you sustained in this accident, so you will want to ensure that the settlement amount allocates for the possibility of future complications.
Insurance companies will often wait until you reach Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), which is the point at which your doctor believes your medical condition has stabilized and likely will not improve, before extending an offer for a Florida workers comp settlement. They generally do this because they remain unsure of how much your medical costs will be. It can also benefit you to wait until you reach MMI before you agree to an offer, as you will be able to better determine whether or not the offer is fair.
Make no mistake, though, the insurance company is not your friend. It may intentionally delay your claim in order to maximize the financial pressure you feel to accept a lowball offer.
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Factors That Can Change the Settlement Timeline
There are two primary factors that can change the timeline of your settlement, and they are each party’s willingness to compromise and whether or not there are any factual disputes about your claim.
Willingness to Compromise
As you might expect, if you and the insurer are both willing to compromise, it should expedite the process. Some workers comp insurers have a reputation for ruthlessly fighting for every penny in order to maximize their bottom line. Other insurance companies may tend to be more likely to extend a fair settlement offer earlier in the process.
Another way to hasten the settlement process is if you, for some reason, are willing to accept an offer that is far below market value. If this is the case, then your claim may settle much sooner than it otherwise would have, but you could be leaving a significant amount of money on the table for you and your family.
Factual Disputes about the Case
Not all workplace injuries are covered by workers comp. One common type of factual dispute about a claim is whether or not it was properly denied. Claims for compensation can be denied if any of the following are true:
- Your injury was self-inflicted
- You sustained the injury while committing a crime
- The injury resulted from alcohol or drug use
Another common type of factual dispute about a workers comp claim pertains to your medical costs and medical care. If you have sustained injuries that are severe, will lead to long-term or permanent disabilities, or still require medical attention, the uncertainty of your future bills may delay the settlement of your claim.
If you have yet to reach MMI, the insurance company knows that you are likely to continue incurring medical costs in the future, but the amount of these costs remain unknown. That uncertainty, plus common disputes about whether certain procedures are medically necessary, can potentially delay your settlement process.
Types of Workers Comp Settlements
There are two types of settlements that the insurance company may offer you:
- A settlement by stipulation and award. Here, your relationship with the insurance company will continue beyond accepting the offer, as the insurance company agrees to cover any future medical expenses that you incur that are related to your injury, even if they are higher than anticipated.
- A settlement by compromise and release. Here, you receive a lump sum of money either via a single payment or a structured settlement. Once you receive this payment, the claim is closed forever, even if you later discover that your medical care costs more than you had expected.
Benefits Your Settlement Can Cover
Florida workers’ comp settlements typically cover the following two benefits:
- Medical costs related to the injury you sustained in this workplace accident, and
- Lost wages caused by your injury
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Should You Accept the Offer?
Determining whether or not to accept the offer comes down to whether you believe the offer is fair, given the extent of your injuries, the cost of your past and future medical bills, and how your injuries have impacted your ability to return to the workforce. Our attorneys at Berlin Law Firm strongly advise that you consult with an experienced workers’ comp lawyer before deciding whether or not to accept an offer. As part of your free consultation, you will learn about your legal rights, the strengths and weaknesses of your claim, and the approximate financial value of your claim.
While injured workers do sometimes receive fair offers from the insurance company, offers early in the process are often significantly below the true market value of your claim. Not only can the right attorney inform you as to the fairness of the offer you have received, but hiring the right lawyer may help expedite the process for you.
The insurance company will know that your claim needs to be taken seriously, as your lawyer will thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding your injuries and build your case. Knowing that our firm is prepared to go all the way to trial if need be may give the insurance company more of an incentive to give you a fair offer earlier in the process than it otherwise would have.
What to Do if Your Case Is Taking Too Long
If your case is taking too long, it is in your best interests to consult with an experienced work injury lawyer if you have not already. An attorney may be able to expedite the settlement process by investigating and building your claim so well that the insurance company knows it needs to take your case seriously and offer you a reasonable settlement or risk going to trial.
Getting the Legal Representation You Deserve
If your workers comp settlement isn’t enough to cover the cost of your injuries, reach out to Berlin Law Firm today to schedule a complimentary case review. We will review your claim and outline next possible steps to get you the full compensation you deserve.