When you have been injured at work, it is important to consider every possible outcome. Your injuries may be so severe you may need to take early retirement from your chosen career. You may even have to consider the possibility that you may not be able to work again at all for the rest of your life. Your workers’ compensation benefits are crucial.
Pursuing workers’ compensation benefits for your injury can be a battle. Your weekly benefits (temporary total disability benefits, or TTD) are most often calculated at two-thirds of the average weekly wage you earned for 52 weeks before you were injured. In some cases, however, your employer (or your employer’s insurance company) may offer you a settlement agreement.
What is a workers’ compensation settlement?
A workers’ compensation settlement is like a personal injury settlement: it resolves all outstanding issues of the claim in exchange for a specific award. And just like with a personal injury settlement, the award is final, meaning you cannot seek additional benefits later.
The insurance company and the employer usually begin the settlement process. The insurance company may offer the employee a settlement offer, which typically includes the following compensation:
- Permanent or temporary disability payments
- Current and future lost wages
- Outstanding medical expenses
- Future medical costs
Once the calculated amount is determined, the employee can negotiate with the insurance company and employer on the final settlement. The North Carolina Industrial Commission must approve any workers’ compensation settlement.
Note: if your injury is truly catastrophic, or if it leaves you permanently disabled, a settlement may not be in your best interest. This is why you should work with a Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyer to determine whether a settlement agreement is right for you in the first place.
What kinds of workers’ compensation settlements are available in North Carolina?
There are typically two ways to receive a settlement for a workers’ compensation claim:
- A “clincher” settlement. This is a lump-sum payment of all of the compensation you are entitled to receive. In exchange for this one-time payment, you waive your right to seek additional benefits for the injury later.
- A Form 26A/ Form 21 settlement. This pays your settlement in weekly installments (like a structured settlement does in injury claims). Form 26A applies only for claimants with permanent disability; temporary disability settlements are handled with Form 21. In both cases, you agree not to pursue additional benefits for the injury later.
When will I receive my settlement from workers’ compensation?
Once you reach an agreement, it gets sent to the Industrial Commission and reviewed by the Executive Secretary’s Office. Per the Commission:
After the Compromise Settlement Agreement package is received by the Commission from the defendants and reviewed by the Executive Secretary’s Office for fairness and equitableness to the parties and compliance with all statutory and rule provisions, an Order approving the CSA may be issued. Once the notice of the Order is received by the defendants, the defendants must issue payment to the plaintiff within 10 days. Therefore, the payment is due within 10 days from notice of the Order. If the payment is not issued within 14 days after the date the payment was due (24 days total from receipt of the notice), then the payment is subject to a 10% late payment penalty.
Why you need a Charlotte workers’ compensation attorney
Hiring a workers’ compensation attorney can help you avoid many problems with your settlement. From the time that you are injured and file your workers’ compensation claim, the insurance company may try to avoid paying out the full compensation you deserve. Some of the actions insurance companies could take to compromise your workers’ compensation settlement include:
- Asking you to submit a statement that will later be used against you
- Advising you not to seek the assistance of an attorney
- Failing to disclose all of the benefits that you are entitled to under workers’ compensation
A workers’ compensation attorney can help ensure that your needs are represented by:
- Documenting the full cost of your injuries. One of the most beneficial ways that a workers’ compensation attorney can help with your settlement agreement is to accurately assess the full extent of your medical needs, and the potential costs associated with your care. Most settlement talks will not even begin before you reach your Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), so an accurate calculation of future expenses is a critical component of your agreement.
- Gathering the best, most supportive evidence for your claim. A workers’ compensation attorney also knows how to present compelling evidence for your case. The evidence that your attorney provides can help refute any of the insurance company’s claims.
- Negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf. Another benefit of working with a Charlotte workers’ compensation attorney is having someone who is skillful at negotiations on your side. Handling insurance companies and employers on your own can be intimidating. Having someone who is accustomed to negotiating can help level the playing field. A workers’ compensation attorney is familiar with the different tactics that insurance companies use to confuse injured employees.
- Ensuring your agreement does not affect other benefits later. Both Medicare and Social Security disability insurance can be affected by a workers’ compensation settlement agreement. Your attorney can help you with a Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set-Aside Arrangement (WCMSA) as well as the Workers’ Compensation/Public Disability Benefit(WC/PDB) Offset to ensure that you do not do more harm than good in the long run.
The Charlotte attorneys at Price, Petho & Associates have aggressively represented thousands of individuals with their workers’ compensation concerns. Often, employers fail to handle job site injury cases correctly, sometimes even refusing to do what is right for their employees. We handle all types of cases, including complex claims involving wrongful termination or issues involved with returning to the workplace. Call 704-372-2160, or submit our contact form today to schedule a free consultation. We serve injured workers in Charlotte, Rutherfordton, and Rockingham.
Attorney Doug Petho is the owner and founder of Price, Petho & Associates. His primary focus is the litigation of plaintiff’s personal injury suits, and he has successfully tried hundreds of cases to jury verdict involving car accidents, trucking accidents, pedestrian accidents, slip and fall accidents, and work-related accidents. Contact his office in Charlotte today.