After a serious injury on the job, many people may assume that they will be able to return to their life as it was prior to the injury. They may believe they will be able to regain their health 100%, keep their same job, and be able to live relatively symptom free.
Why Workers’ Comp May Want You to Settle
History tells us the reality is often much different when there is a significant trauma or a serious injury that requires an extended period of time to recover. People are often surprised to learn that their employer may not be obligated to hold their job until they reach a full recovery. An injured worker may find that their doctor will not let them return to the type of work they performed prior to getting hurt.
What comes next for many of these injured workers is even more surprising. They are often contacted by the insurance company or the employer about settling their case.
The court, or North Carolina Industrial Commission in workers’ compensation claims, cannot make parties settle a claim. The law does not require an injured worker to enter into an agreement to resolve their case. So why, then, do insurance companies and employers sometimes push workers to enter into a settlement?
They may be looking to end their liability and monetary exposure in your case as quickly as possible.
Is Settling in Your Best Interest?
There are sometimes reasons an injured worker may benefit from a settlement. It may allow them to move on from a difficult work situation. It can take away the uncertainty of a court result. It may allow an injured worker sufficient resources to get treatment on their own without dealing with the insurance company’s doctors. It can also give an injured worker sufficient resources to pursue training for a new occupation. Under these circumstances, settlement can make sense for all parties.
If you are approached by an insurance company or employer with an offer to settle your claim, we urge you to question whether it is fair and in your best interest.
Is the NC Industrial Commission Looking Out for the Injured Worker?
The insurance company and employer may tell you that the Industrial Commission has to approve a settlement and will determine whether the settlement is fair and in your best interest. This is technically true.
During my time at the Industrial Commission, I often approved settlement agreements in which an injured worker did not have an attorney and accepted the employer’s settlement offer. My responsibilities, however, were not necessarily to ensure that the injured worker got the best deal, but instead, that they received at least the minimum required by law. There were certainly times when I sent an agreement back to an insurance company and injured worker indicating that I could not approve the settlement as being fair because the amount was too low. Even in those cases, I could not tell the parties what I thought a reasonable amount was.
More importantly, I could not tell the employee whether I thought he was getting everything he or she may have been entitled to under the Workers’ Compensation Act. In other words, someone may accept a settlement that does not consider their future medical needs, how long it will take them to find a new job, whether they need money for retraining, or to make up future lost wages. So what seems like a fair settlement to the injured worker may actually be a bargain basement deal for the insurance company.
Farrin Workers’ Comp Lawyers Have Your Best Interests at Heart
As a North Carolina Board Certified Specialist in Workers’ Compensation law representing injured workers, I am now able to look out for all of my clients’ potential needs. In fact, that is one of the most important aspects of my role as an attorney – to make sure I try to consider and address each and every need in settlement negotiations.
Our workers’ compensation attorneys want to have a comprehensive understanding of our clients’ medical condition, a thorough understanding of the injury’s impact on their ability to work, even an understanding of the local job market before advising our clients about what may make sense for them. Often this means trying to obtain a second opinion to provide a comprehensive overview of our clients’ medical condition. We often calculate varied cost projections on medical and disability exposure. We do not want any of our clients to enter into a settlement agreement unless it is their decision and that it is in their best interest for their future health and that it makes economic sense.
NC Workers’ Comp Lawyers Offer Free Case Evaluation
If you are contacted by an insurance company about settling your claim, we urge you to contact us or call 1-866-900-7078. We offer a no-cost case evaluation regarding your claim. It may be that the insurance company is being fair with you. We have seen that happen – although it is not the norm in our experience. That is why I hope you take the time to give us a call so you can make that decision for yourself.