If you’re receiving workers’ compensation benefits in Louisiana, there’s a point when you may want to consider settling your case. When you settle, you receive a lump payment to cover your medical bills instead of receiving weekly payments. The advantage is that you no longer have to deal with the complicated process of workers’ compensation, and you avoid the hassle of a hearing.
But of course, there are risks involved and things you’ll need to consider first. If you’ve decided to settle, consider your options carefully. Workers’ compensation settlements are final. Once you have settled your claim, you won’t be receiving any more payments, and you won’t be able to reopen your case.
Here’s what you need to know before you settle your case.
What Is Typically Included and Deduted From a Workers’ Compensation Settlement?
Before you decide to settle, you should know what you may be getting and what deductions you might see. In most cases, settlements include compensation for:
- Past due workers’ compensation indemnity benefits
- Lost wages
- An estimate of future disability benefits (either permanent or temporary)
- Past and future medical expenses
You don’t have to pay any state or federal taxes out of your settlement payment, but be aware that some deductions may occur. Typically, the deductions that get taken out of your settlement will be for things such as:
- Unpaid medical bills
- Unpaid child support
- Medicare set aside (a portion of your settlement set aside to cover any future medical expenses related to your injury)
- Attorney fees
Maximum Medical Improvement
The very best time to settle your workers’ compensation case is when you’ve reached what’s known as maximum medical improvement (MMI). You’ll make regular doctor visits when you’re receiving workers’ compensation benefits, but at a certain mark, your recovery will peak. At this point, a doctor can determine that you have recovered as much as possible, and more medical care would not do any good.
What makes this the best time to settle? If no further care is needed, you won’t have any more medical expenses after the settlement (at least none related to this incident).
Should I Take a Lump Sum or a Structured Settlement?
In most cases, insurance companies prefer lump settlements. But, if you have an injury that will require long-term care, you can choose to be paid a structured settlement done in installments. The advantage of taking your payment in a lump sum is that you get your money all at once, and you can use it for the needs you have right now. If you want to pay off bills or make a large purchase, this is the option you probably want to take.
But a structured settlement guarantees that you’ll have income in the future. Having your payment staggered over a period of time is better if you’re worried you’ll spend your lump settlement frivolously.
Both lump sum and structured settlement payments are subject to a judge’s approval, and there’s no guarantee that a settlement will be approved either way. If your settlement is denied, you can re-negotiate and submit the request again.
Do Not Decide to Settle Until You’ve Talked to a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Workers’ compensation laws can be confusing, but Phillip M. Hendry Law can help. Attorney Phillip Hendry has a wealth of experience with these cases—10 years as a workers’ compensation defense attorney, eight years as a workers’ compensation plaintiff attorney, and two years as a workers’ compensation judge. That experience gives him a unique perspective to see cases from all sides and a knowledge of how to best help his clients.
If you have a workers’ compensation case you’re considering settling, contact our office today at (318) 553-5900 for a free consultation. You can also use our online contact form to set up an appointment.