Whether your case is contested or uncontested, there may come a time when it is in your best interest to settle your workers’ compensation claim. There are many reasons why you may desire to settle: the risk of litigation, to avoid having to deal with the insurance carrier, the desire to manage your own medical treatment, or the need for a lump sum of money. It’s very important to know that neither you nor the insurance carrier can force the other side to accept a settlement. All settlements must be approved by the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission and the Commission will only approve a settlement if it’s in their opinion that it is in the best interest of the employee. It has been said (I have seen it) that injured workers get more money in their lump sum settlements when they hire an attorney as opposed to not hiring an attorney. I would, again, advise consulting with an attorney to see whether you should have an attorney help you evaluate your case and to negotiate a good settlement. When you negotiate a settlement, you are giving up all your rights to future lost wages and future medical benefits, so it is a very serious decision that needs to be looked at from various points of view to make sure that you are making the right decision. The way cases are valued depends on how much temporary total disability benefits and permanent partial disability benefits are remaining out of the 500 weeks, what is anticipated to be the future medical services and the cost of such future medical services, and, if the matter is contested, the risk of litigation and losing at a hearing. Also Medicare, Social Security, child support, and Medicaid have liens on the settlement money. Medicare goes so far as to say it has an interest in the workers’ compensation settlement if there is a reasonable expectation of you receiving Medicare within 30 months after settling your workers’ compensation claim. Again, these issues need to be discussed at length, with your attorney, to figure out how to maximize your benefits. Always remember, the insurance company is looking out for no one except themselves. The standard attorney fee for settlements is 20 percent.