In our law practice, most workers' compensation cases result in a settlement. There, however, is no requirement that a case be settled. Instead, it is a voluntary process that both the employer and injured worker must agree to enter. After a tentative settlement, The State Board of Workers' Compensation must approve the agreement before it becomes final.
There is usually an incentive for the insurance company to settle and close out a case. Otherwise, there is always a risk that the injured worker on benefits would be entitled to life-long medical care. The insurance company also wants to guard against a change in condition for the worse potentially entitling the worker to additional benefits. For the insurance company, a closed file means that it has no more exposure.
Once a medical recovery is near, the injured worker usually wants to explore a settlement of his or her case. By closing the case, the worker receives a lump sum cash payment and is free of the workers' compensation system. We have heard all too many times, "I just want to get on with my life."
In most cases, the employee should only consider settlement when he or she is comfortable that astronomical medical costs will no longer be an issue. In other words, a premature settlement that shuts the door on future medical care could strap the injured worker with excessive medical costs.
Any settlement must contemplate all benefits that the injured worker is likely to receive if the case were to remain open. These benefits include items for lost wages, permanent injuries, and medical care.
If you are considering settling your workers' compensation case, let us know and we will be happy to assist in evaluating and offering our opinion to assist in reaching an appropriate resolution.