If you get injured on the job, the standard course of action is to cover medical bills and give you routine payments for other costs, such as lost wages. However, the insurance company may come to you and offer a settlement. This means they’ll pay you far more up front than any one monthly payment, but that will be it. It will be all you get.
Should you do it? There are some advantages. You don’t have to deal with the monthly payments, for instance, or worry about a stoppage. You get more money up front, which can feel like a win in the moment. It also puts the incident behind you. For some injured workers, that’s all they really want.
Why to avoid a settlement
However, there are some downsides and reasons that it may not be in your best interests. Some of these include:
- Those wage loss benefits end when you take the settlement. So does your free medical care. If you need more money after you spend what you got in the settlement, it comes out of your pocket. The insurance company, along with your employer, consider it a closed case.
- You could have delayed symptoms or long-term issues that you simply do not know about yet. If you settle and then find out you need extensive medical care for those issues, you can no longer get it from the insurance company. For instance, some experts claim that brain and head injuries may linger and show symptoms years or even decades after the fact.
- If you need life-long care and assistance, it can be difficult to determine exactly how much it will cost. For instance, for a spinal cord injury, the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation notes that the annual costs can “vary greatly” depending on factors like employment history, neurological impairment, education, severity of injury and much more.
This is not to say that you should not take a settlement. You simply need to understand the ramifications of doing so and the potential risks. You also need to know what costs to factor in. You may be able to ask for a settlement to cover potential future costs, and, if those projections are accurate, you can eliminate some of these risks. Just do not make any rash decisions and consider all offers carefully before you decide what is best for you and your family.
Your legal options
Throughout the process, remember that you do have rights as an injured worker. You have choices and legal options. You must explore them carefully and make sure you know exactly where you stand.