Experiencing an injury in the workplace not only leads to physical pain and discomfort but also brings about significant financial challenges. Workers’ compensation is intended to aid employees in bridging the gap until they can return to work. But what if your injury results in long-term or permanent damage? This article will discuss the average workers’ compensation settlement and whether it is sufficient to cover your expenses.
Defining Workers’ Compensation Settlements
First, let’s define a workers’ compensation settlement. When an enduring impairment limits your capacity to work, you might be eligible for permanent disability benefits through workers’ compensation. Depending on the location and severity of your injury, as well as other factors, you will receive weekly checks for a predetermined period.
In states like Florida, you can also pursue a settlement instead of weekly benefits. This can take the form of a lump-sum payment or a structured settlement, where you receive payments over a specified duration (e.g., one year, five years, 10 years). Structured settlements are less common and are typically utilized in cases involving severe injuries that require long-term financial management.
Keep in mind that settlements are voluntary. Neither your employer nor their insurance company can force you to accept a settlement offer, and they are not obligated to agree to a settlement with you. Accepting a settlement typically means relinquishing any right to pursue additional workers’ compensation benefits.
Weighing the Pros and Cons of Workers’ Compensation Settlements
A settlement can offer certain advantages:
- Avoiding a trial, where a judge could potentially reduce your benefits
- Saving time and reducing stress from lengthy hearings
- Receiving money for potential future benefits that you might not use
However, there are also downsides to consider:
- Risking the loss of your right to pursue future benefits if your condition worsens or requires ongoing treatment
- Struggling to manage a lump-sum payment and risking financial instability if spent too quickly
It’s crucial to evaluate the pros and cons carefully, ideally with the guidance of an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
Average Workers’ Compensation Settlement Amounts
So, what is the average workers’ compensation settlement? A comprehensive study reveals that 73% of workers receive a settlement or award, with the average amount being $21,800. Most workers (68%) receive between $2,000 and $40,000.
The large gap between the lowest and highest amounts can be attributed to the nature of workers’ compensation, which typically offers smaller payouts than personal injury settlements or awards. Additionally, the wide range of injuries covered by workers’ compensation, from minor sprains to severe injuries like amputations, contributes to the disparity in settlement amounts.
Interestingly, those who accepted the first settlement offer received an average of $10,700, while those who hired a lawyer received $23,500 on average.
Seek Legal Guidance from Expert Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
Hiring a lawyer can make a significant difference in your settlement amount, potentially enabling you to maintain a more comfortable lifestyle as you recover and adapt to a “new normal.” Workers’ compensation attorneys operate on a contingency basis, meaning they only receive payment if they secure an acceptable settlement or win a judgment at a hearing. This ensures that legal fees come from the settlement or award, not directly from your pocket.
Having an experienced lawyer on your side can position you for a successful outcome. The LaBovick Law Group, for instance, has decades of experience in workers’ compensation law. Consult with a qualified attorney before accepting any settlement to ensure your best interests are protected.
Frequently Asked Questions about Workers’ Compensation Settlements
What is a workers’ compensation settlement?
A workers’ compensation settlement is an agreement between an injured worker, their employer, and the employer’s insurance company to resolve a workers’ compensation claim. This may involve a lump-sum payment or a structured settlement paid out over a specified period.
What is the average workers’ compensation settlement amount?
The average workers’ compensation settlement amount is $21,800. However, settlement amounts can range from $2,000 to $40,000 or more, depending on various factors such as the severity of the injury, the employee’s ability to work, and legal representation.
What factors influence the amount of a workers’ compensation settlement?
Factors that influence the settlement amount include the severity and nature of the injury, the worker’s capacity to return to work, medical expenses, lost wages, and the quality of legal representation.
Should I accept the first settlement offer from the insurance company?
It’s generally not advisable to accept the first settlement offer without consulting a workers’ compensation attorney. An experienced lawyer can help you evaluate the offer and negotiate a better settlement on your behalf if necessary.
Do I need a lawyer to negotiate a workers’ compensation settlement?
While you’re not legally required to have a lawyer for negotiating a settlement, hiring an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can improve your chances of receiving a fair and adequate settlement. Attorneys have the knowledge and skills to navigate the complex legal process and advocate for your best interests.
What are the pros and cons of a workers’ compensation settlement?
Pros include avoiding a potentially lengthy trial, saving time and reducing stress, and receiving money upfront for future benefits that may not be used. Cons include the risk of giving up your right to pursue future benefits, difficulty managing a lump-sum payment, and the possibility of underestimating your future medical and financial needs.
How do workers’ compensation attorneys get paid?
Workers’ compensation attorneys usually work on a contingency basis, meaning they only receive payment if they successfully negotiate a settlement or win a judgment at a hearing. Their fees are taken from the settlement or award amount, rather than directly from the client’s pocket.
Can I reopen a workers’ compensation claim after accepting a settlement?
In most cases, accepting a settlement means giving up your right to pursue additional workers’ compensation benefits. However, some exceptions may apply, depending on the terms of your settlement agreement and the laws in your state. Consult with a workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your specific situation.