After suffering an injury on the job, Maryland workers’ compensation provides weekly benefits for medical care, lost wages, disability payments, and more. However, some injured employees in this situation may opt to pursue a lump sum workers’ comp settlement over continuing weekly claim benefits. Does this decision always benefit the injured worker?
Goldberg and Finnegan discuss when an injured worker may opt for a settlement in a workers’ comp claim, reasons why it may or may not benefit the worker, and what the worker gives up in return.
If you were injured at work, our workers’ compensation lawyers in Silver Spring are prepared to help. Call our law offices for a free consultation, whether you are considering seeking a lump sum workers’ comp settlement or weekly workers’ comp benefits.
Before Seeking a Workers’ Comp Settlement
An injured employee may decide at any time during a workers’ comp claim to pursue a one-time settlement over continuing to receive weekly claim benefits. Although the thought of a lump sum payment may seem tempting, especially if you are struggling to make ends meet while recovering, there are some reasons for seeking legal help before making this decision.
It is also best to wait to settle a workers’ compensation claim until after you have reached the maximum medical improvement (MMI) in your recovery. Waiting to reach your MMI helps to ensure that you have sufficient funds to pay for any additional treatment or medical care you may need in the future. If you settle before this point, you could end up paying for ongoing medical care you need out of your own pocket.
Risks and Disadvantages of a Workers’ Comp Settlement
There are some risks and disadvantages to taking a workers’ comp settlement over weekly claim benefits, such as:
- A final compensatory award that is too low, considering the extent of your injuries and time it may take to recover
- Settlements in workers’ comp claims do not award additional damages for pain and suffering.
- Weekly workers’ comp benefits are terminated once your settlement is finalized.
- Injured workers who accept a lump sum settlement cannot, unlike those who receive weekly benefits, reopen a claim once the settlement is finalized. Employees who continue to receive weekly benefits, however, may reopen a claim within five years after receiving their last payment.
Benefits to Seeking a Workers’ Comp Settlement
Although there are some risks to taking a workers’ comp settlement, there are also benefits. Injured workers who take a lump sum settlement:
- Receive a tax-free lump sum payment
- Can continue treatment with doctors they choose
- Do not have to deal with insurance providers
- Are not subject to independent medical exams
- Can use the money as they wish, such as for medical costs, job retraining and more
- Can accept a new job without risking benefits
For some workers, these benefits may outweigh any disadvantages, especially since these benefits should help them to move forward with their lives more quickly.
How Are Workers’ Comp Settlements Negotiated?
Since a workers’ comp claim does not permit inclusion of any damages for pain and suffering, it is important to make sure your settlement is calculated to your best advantage. Our experienced lawyers understand what factors need to be considered to estimate a fair settlement amount.
The attorney working on your behalf should consider not only the benefits you expected to receive, but also other contributing factors, such as:
- Your current medical costs
- Future treatments you may require
- Your prognosis for making a full recovery
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Lost wages
Settlements Must Be Approved
Any proposed settlement for an injured worker must be reviewed and approved by the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission before they can be awarded.
The Commission will review all proposed agreements and stipulations, as well as the lump sum payment compared to the weekly benefits received by the injured worker.
The injured worker, or his or her attorney, must then file the paperwork with the Commission, along with all supporting documentation, for review and approval.
Experienced Legal Representation Can Make a Difference. Call Today
Determining whether to seek a one-time workers’ compensation settlement versus weekly claim benefits can be daunting, especially when you are not sure how to accurately calculate a fair settlement.
At Goldberg Finnegan, we have extensive experience advocating for injured workers in Maryland. These claims can be complex, but we can help you understand your legal options and when it may benefit you to consider a lump sum settlement.
We are prepared to fight for the maximum compensation available in your situation. Contact our law offices at your convenience to learn more about how we may be able to help. Your initial consultation costs you nothing and there is no obligation to use our services.
Experienced Lawyers. Millions recovered. Call: (888) 213-8140