When injured workers settle their Virginia workers’ compensation claim, they are sometimes frustrated to find out that there are some waiting periods involved before they receive their money. I always make it my policy to make sure my clients know what to expect at settlement but I know some folks opt to settle their case on their own.
Once a verbal agreement has been reached for settlement, settlement documents have to be drawn up by the insurance company’s attorney and circulated for all the parties to sign. Then, once everyone has signed the settlement documents, they have to be submitted to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission for approval. This can take anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks. If Medicare is involved, it takes a lot more time since the settlement also has to be approved by Medicare. Then, after the settlement order is signed by the Commission (you will be notified by the Commission by mail) then the insurance carrier has 44 days from the date of the APPROVED ORDER to mail the settlement check.
Below is some of the advice and information I give to my clients once their claim has settled.
- Keep your settlement a “secret.” No one needs to know about your settlement other than you and your spouse or a trusted family member. This is just a suggestion, of course, but be forewarned – I have seen too many people be taken advantage of.
- Call your medical providers and make sure you don’t have any outstanding balances with their office. If your claim was contested prior to settlement, try and negotiate the balance owed for the treatment, this way you can pay off your medical bills while keeping as much money as possible in your pocket! If the insurance company needs to pay, we want to get that bill to them ASAP before they “close their file” and it becomes a nightmare to try and get your doctor paid.
- Don’t make impulse buys– HAVE A PLAN on what you are going to do with your funds—pay off debts, put it in savings, bonds, IRAs, pay for an education, start a business, etc. If you don’t have a plan, consider speaking with a financial advisor.
- These funds are tax free!
If you would like some help settling your workers’ compensation claim or If you would like more information on the Virginia workers’ compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia,” or call our office today (804) 755-7755.
Michele Lewane, Esq.