Offered a workers compensation settlement? Now what?

Workers-Compensation-Injury-Form-300x200From time to time, I get calls from prospective clients because they received a workers compensation settlement offer to end their workers compensation claim.  The prospective client received the offer directly from the insurance carrier adjuster.  The adjuster insists the claim is fair and reasonable.  The question I am always asked is — So now what?

First, talk to an experienced workers compensation attorney before ever agreeing to any settlement offer made by an insurance carrier.  Often these settlement offers are well below the actual value of your case.

Additionally, settlements are final.  That is important and understated.  Once you agree to a settlement and have it approved by a Workers Compensation Judge, you can NEVER have your case re-opened.  If your injury were to worsen or an additional medical development occurs that relates to your work activities, if you have agreed to a settlement, you are out of luck.  Period.

That is precisely why it is absolutely critical to have a workers compensation attorney on your side.  Remember, the adjuster is not the person drafting the settlements documents.  It is the attorney for the insurance carrier.  Their attorney will be present at the settlement hearing as well.  They have an  attorney on their side.  Shouldn’t you?

There are numerous factors that go into not just the value of your settlement, but whether you should even settle your claim.  Those factors are:

  1. Severity of your injury
  2. Permanency of your injury
  3. Extent of medical care remaining
  4. Future medical costs
  5. Likelihood of returning to your pre-injury job
  6. Likelihood of returning to any work
  7. Procedural posture of your case
  8. Strength/Weakness of evidence in your case
  9. Financial hardships
  10. Social Security Disability or Retirement considerations

There are other factors, but these ten are very important.  We at Mooney & Associates can help walk you through these factors to determine the appropriate value of your case and to determine if settlement is even right at this point.

Practice Note:  Settlements in workers compensation are often times misunderstood by injured workers.  It is important to manage your expectations.  Remember, outside a very few exceptions, if you are injured at work, your only recourse is through workers compensation.  You can’t sue your employer separately for other damages.    Additionally, there is NO pain and suffering in workers compensation.

It’s not an easy decision and you should not be in any rush to settle.  Talk to a professional first.  There is no reason not to.  The rights you will be giving up as part of settlement are just to important.  Besides, it costs you nothing. A Consultation with me at Mooney & Associates is FREE.  You can simply email me at mab@mooney4law.com or call us at 1-877-632-4656 to set up your FREE consultation.  We have offices all over South Central Pennsylvania to meet with you in a convenient location.  Our main offices include Chambersburg, Carlisle, Harrisburg, York, Gettysburg, and Hanover.

 

Social Security Benefits to increase by 1.7%

Older and disabled Americans will see a 1.7% cost of living adjustment for their benefits for the year 2015.   The 1.7% increase marks the third consecutive year that the COLA for social security beneficiaries is held under 2%.

The government announced the benefit increase today.  The increase is based on the latest measure of consumer prices.  The Social Security Act provides for increases and those increases should be based on on inflation, mainly the Consumer Price Index.

Social Security retirement benefits are financed through a 12.4% payroll tax on the first $117,000 of a worker’s wages, in which half the tax is paid by the employee and half by the employer.  Social Security Disability benefits are funded through a payroll tax of 7.65% of earnings (subject to a maximum) that applies to both employees and employers (15.3 percent total).  These payroll taxes fund all Social Security programs and most of Medicare.  SSD benefits are payable and calculated on the basis of the worker’s earnings from Social Security–covered employment, and a Claimant must still have insured status.  Disability benefits are based on a measure of lifetime predisability earnings.  If an individual is awarded Social Security Disability, there is a a 5-month waiting period before benefits can start, and Medicare coverage for the Claimant is not available until the Claimant is entitled to disability benefits for 24 months.

So what is the average increase based on 1.7% COLA increase that recipients will see?  Well, it varies from person to person, depending on your benefits amount, but on average, the 1/7% increase will reflect approximately $20 increase per month.

If you or a family member or friend have recently applied for Social Security Disability and have been denied, call Mooney & Associates for a FREE case evaluation at 1-877-632-4656.  Remember, Social Security Disability is time sensitive.  If you received your denial letter more than 60 days ago, and failed to file an Appeal, then you must start the application process all over again.  Call us before the 60 day window expires.  We wills it down and talk over your case with you.  We provide an honest evaluation of whether we believe we can win you disability benefits.  No sugar coating from us!

Mooney & Associates has full-time staffed offices in Chambersburg, Carlisle, Harrisburg, York, Gettysburg, and Hanover in Central Pennsylvania.

What types of Workers’ Compensation Settlements are there?

Not only do I frequently get asked if a workers’ compensation settlement, or otherwise known as, a compromise and release agreement, is right for a specific client, but also, what types of settlements are there for workers’ compensation.  This post will explore what I see as the three type of compromise and release agreements for settling your workers’ compensation claim.

1.   Wage Loss Only:  This type of settlement fully settles your wage loss benefit only.  What does that mean?  It means that any entitlement to or if you are receiving weekly or biweekly wage loss benefits, after agreeing to a lump sum amount of money, you will no longer receive those checks or be entitled to any workers compensation disability benefits.  However, your entitlement to medical benefits is unaffected in this type of settlement.  That means your right to have medical bills related to your work injury paid by the workers compensation insurance carrier continues indefinitely into the future until otherwise settled or terminated by a Workers’ Compensation Judge.  This type of settlement is usually limited to very severe injuries where medical treatment will be required for a substantial period of time, perhaps for the rest of the injured workers’ life.  It is also rare.  Quite frankly, when an insurance carrier wises to settle, they wish to settle all benefits to get rid of any liability. Just because you may need some prescription medications for the rest of your life does not means an insurance carrier would be willing to settle your case with this structure of settlement.

2.  Wage Loss with Open Medical Period:  This type of settlement fully settles your workers compensation disability payments, your weekly or biweekly payments, and keeps your medical benefits open for either a specific period of time or for a specific medical procedure.  Usually, a specific period of time is for one year or six months. An insurance carrier may be willing to enter this type of settlement because it sees an end to liability in the future.  It is usually also the type of settlement where there is interest in resolving the wage loss benefits from both the injured worker and the insurance carrier, but there is a scheduled surgery or procedure.  Therefore, the insurance carrier is willing to allow benefits open for a period of time to include the scheduled surgery/procedure and followup treatment to that surgery/procedure.  It can also be used when there is a foreseeable end to treatment, say, six months of physical therapy.  Additionally, an insurance carrier may agree to keep medical open for surgery specified in the agreement and any follow up treatment as it relates only to that surgery.  Again, an insurance carrier may be willing to enter this type of agreement because they see an end to liability on the horizon.  It is important that you speak to Mooney & Associates before agreeing to any settlement offered by the insurance carrier.

3.  Full Compromise and Release:   This is the most common type of workers compensation settlement and the type of settlement that insurance carrier’s prefer.  This type of settlement settles all of your workers’ compensation benefits, both wage loss and medical benefits.  It is important that you confer with us here at Mooney & Associates to ensure this settlement is right for you and your future needs.  It is important to remember that when you agree to a full and final compromise and release agreement, that you are agreeing that you will not be entitled to future wage loss or medical benefits as related to your work injury.  Ever.  Even if your condition worsens, once you agree to a compromise and release agreement, you are ion your won.  You can never go back on your Employer or Insurance carrier.  That is why it is absolutely critical for you to seeks consultation with us.  We can help you determine if this settlement is appropriate for you and if so, negotiate a fair, reasonable lump sum.  If you get contacted by your insurance carrier with an offer to settle, you should contact Mooney & Associates right away.  Don’t settle before meeting with us.

Settlements are not right for everyone.  We will look in a later post on some factors on whether settlement may be right for you.

If you have any questions as to whether settlement is right for you or which settlement is appropriate for you, contact us today at 717-632-4656 or toll free at 877-632-4656.

We representation injured workers in central Pennsylvania, in areas like Chambersburg, Carlisle, Shippensburg, Harrisburg, Gettsybrug, Hanover, York, New Oxford, Greencastle, and Waynesboro.  (Franklin, Cumberland, Dauphin, Perry, Adams, and York Counties)