When you are faced with a life changing work injury, the decision to accept a workers’ compensation settlement can be a complicated one. There are pro’s and con’s on either side of the decision so I’ve put together the list below in order to educate injured workers of the benefits of accepting a workers’ compensation settlement. Remember, settlements are voluntary and have to be agreed upon by ALL interested parties (you, the insurance carrier, the employer, and the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission also must approve a full and final settlement). So, if you decide that settlement is not the right decision for you, you don’t have to accept it!
*Freedom – Once you’ve settled your Virginia workers’ compensation claim, the insurance carrier is no longer in control of your doctors! You have the freedom to choose your treating doctor or specialist and you can pursue the treatment plan that you are most comfortable with. You will also have the freedom to pursue a new job, career, or education on your terms free of a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor looking over your shoulder!
*Controlling the Outcome – Settling your Virginia workers’ compensation claim is also a way to avoid litigation. When you settle your claim, you know exactly what the outcome is when you sign the paperwork – it’s all spelled out in black and white! If your claim goes before the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission, the decision is ultimately up to the Deputy Commissioner and you won’t know the outcome until several weeks after the hearing when the Opinion is issued. If the Commissioner’s Opinion is not in your favor, you could be in for a long ride through the appeals process which consists of more waiting and more unknown outcomes.
*No More Waiting – When your Virginia workers’ compensation claim has settled and you have received payment from the insurance carrier, you will no longer have to wait for that weekly check to come in the mail and you won’t have to wait on the insurance carrier to pre-authorize your medical care. Once you have received that lump sum settlement payment, you can use those funds as you choose for medical care, education, living expenses, and so on.
*Pursuing Other Benefits – A Virginia workers’ compensation settlement may give you the freedom to pursue other benefits as well. For example, Social Security Disability benefits. If you receive both at the same time, many times you actually lose money. Social Security deducts the full amount you receive from workers’ compensation so you may only receive $100 to $200 from Social Security. Then, it makes your workers’ compensation check taxable. So, in essence, you break even or lose money. If you settle your workers’ compensation claim first and then file for Social Security Disability, you basically receive the full lump sum settlement, tax free, and get a full Social Security Disability check. Settling your workers’ compensation claim (if done properly) can alleviate the complications with Social Security Disability and Medicare.
Settlement is a very big decision and should be treated as such. The Injured Workers’ Law Firm team has helped hundreds of injured workers in Virginia obtain a fair settlement. If you think settlement might be something that you would want to pursue, please contact my office and speak to my intake team today!
The Injured Workers Law Firm is a Richmond, Virginia based firm solely focused on serving clients with workers’ compensation claims in Virginia. If you have questions about your benefits or if you would like more information on the Virginia workers’ compensation system, order our book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia,” or call our office today (804) 755-7755.