One of the bad things about workers’ compensation is that the pros and cons of settling a claim amount to the same thing. In short, accepting a settlement on outstanding bills and replacement wages ends the case. Depending on your current circumstances and future needs, this can be a positive outcome or a negative one.
The way things usually work, accepting a workers’ comp settlement means you receive a lump sum payment in exchange for agreeing to drop all current and future claims related to your present case. This can be a relief, allowing you to clear up current bills and keeping you from going to court to argue for benefits.
Work-related injuries and occupational illnesses can cause serious problems throughout a lifetime. Accepting a workers’ comp settlement means you almost definitely will not be able to go back to the program to request coverage for follow-up surgeries, ongoing treatment or additional therapy.
Recognizing when settling is in your best interest requires taking three considerations.
First, the surest way to decide whether the pros of accepting a worker’s comp settlement outweigh the cons is to determine whether you can expect to experience new or worsening symptoms from your work-related injury or occupational illness. If the answer, reached in consultation with your doctors and therapy providers, is no, then settling your case with Ohio Workers’ Compensation often makes sense.
Learning that you will probably need future treatment or ongoing therapy could convince you to keep at least part of your case open. The workers’ comp program lets injured or ill people negotiate partial settlements and petition for a reinstatement of benefits at a later date. For instance, a workplace accident that results in the amputation of a finger can be partially settled to accept a lump sum for the amputation and kept partially open for coverage of reconstructive surgery years later.
After considering future needs, you must factor in your current reality of either having returned to work or receiving a notice that you have achieved what the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation calls “maximum medical improvement.” The workers’ comp program stops approving payments on new medical and therapy bills once you go back to your job or after you reach the point when additional health care interventions will not improve your physical function. Since workers’ comp benefits will end anyway, it makes sense to strongly consider negotiating a lump sum payment on outstanding claims.
A final consideration will be whether you have been approved to receive long-term disability benefits through a program like Social Security Disability Insurance. Being on workers’ comp will not affect your eligibility for SSDI or Supplemental Security Income, but the money paid by the workers’ comp program could lower your federal benefits.
Speaking with a workers’ comp attorney in the Cleveland offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman could help you decide whether to accept a settlement. You can schedule a free consultation online or talk with a lawyer by calling (800) 678-3318.