The short answer to this question is maybe. In Virginia, a workers’ compensation company does not have to settle your case.
Unfortunately, there is no mechanism to force the insurance company to settle your case, since any settlement is voluntary. However, there may be certain situations where your case is in a good posture for settlement.
Be wary of a quick settlement
Often, an insurance adjuster may make you a settlement offer shortly after your accident happens. The adjuster is motivated to settle your case quickly to save money. They often aim to close your case before the extent of your injuries is known. Be wary of any settlement offers made soon after your accident – especially if you are seriously injured.
When is it beneficial to settle my workers’ compensation case?
If your case is disputed by the insurance company, an early settlement may make sense. For example, if you failed to report your accident within 30 days or if you violated a safety rule causing your accident, then a quick settlement may make sense. Otherwise, your case may go to a hearing where you could be awarded no benefits at all.
Settling your case before you reach the age of 65 is also a consideration. As you approach the age of 65, you become Medicare eligible. Medicare eligibility makes settling a workers’ compensation case much more difficult. Medicare’s interest must be considered in any settlement if you are receiving Medicare benefits or are Medicare-eligible.
Many insurance companies will want to explore settlement once you have reached maximum medical improvement (“MMI”). MMI simply means that your injuries and treatment have reached a plateau. This is an excellent time to settle your case since your future medical needs should be limited.
What are the drawbacks to settling my workers’ compensation case?
If you decide to settle your workers’ compensation case, you are no longer entitled to any additional wage loss benefits. You would also be financially responsible for any future medical care after a settlement. A workers’ compensation settlement does not include any pain and suffering. Even though you suffered pain as a result of your work injury, that is not something that is factored into a workers’ compensation settlement.
After a settlement is reached, it must be submitted to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission for approval. The Commission reviews the details to ensure that it is in your best interest. If the Commission does not believe the settlement is beneficial for you, it will likely be rejected.
Have you been injured at work?
Valuing your workers’ compensation case for settlement is difficult. It is not something you should do on your own. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney knows how to properly value your case. If you are interested in settling, call the attorneys at Allen and Allen so we can put our experience to work for you. This consultation is free. Call 866-388-1307 today.