Every injured worker I deal with has their own individual set of circumstances. A lot of folks want to know why some injured workers choose to accept a workers’ compensation settlement instead of keeping their lifetime medical benefits award.
There are several reasons injured workers choose to settle their workers’ compensation claim but here I have listed 4 of the biggest reasons people accept a workers’ compensation settlement. Most of these are related to some degree but you get the idea.
1) Peace of Mind – A lot of folks who call me about settlement simply don’t want to deal with the insurance adjuster, their nurse case manager, their workers’ compensation doctor(s), or a private investigator that’s been following them any more. Insurance adjusters tend to be hard to get in touch with or non-responsive. Injured workers get sick of feeling left in the dark or feeling frustrated. They don’t want to have to wait days or weeks for the insurance adjuster to respond to them as to why their lost wage check is late or for them to approve their medical care. A lot of folks feel that the system is running their life and, sadly, in many cases, that is not far from the truth!
2) Better Access to Medical Care – Like I said, insurance adjusters can sometimes drag their feet approving necessary medical care and this can lead to backsliding in the recovery progress. A lifetime medical award really does not mean for life. Medical care usually is delayed or denied quite often by the insurance adjuster even though you may have a lifetime medical award. Some reasons for a settlement in this type of situation would be: a) the insurance company is no longer involved; b) you can choose your own doctor and have more decision making power on what care you wish to pursue; and c) no waiting for medical care.
3) Financial Freedom – To some degree, you will gain some freedom. No one is getting rich from their workers’ compensation settlement but having that lump sum of money is sometimes a better option for injured workers who may have been without any income for a period of time. Sadly, with the current laws, I see so many people who either are not getting their weekly lost wage benefits check or who are barely getting by on the reduced pay rate from workers’ compensation insurance even if they do get their weekly lost wage benefit check on time. So to many, a lump sum settlement can sometimes provide relief from this stress and allow financial freedom.
4) Living in Fear – Many people who are receiving an ongoing lost wage workers’ compensation benefit check have, at one time or another, been observed by a private investigator who was hired by the insurance company to ensure that the injured worker is following the doctor’s physical work restrictions (and not just at work!). Many people feel that this is threatening or invasive. Also, a Nurse Case Manager may be assigned to a claim, influencing their treating doctor to return them to work too soon before they’re ready or suggesting medical care that the injured worker does not want. Also, a Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist may find an injured worker a very undesirable job. Once the claim is settled, the injured worker will no longer have to fear these situations.
About the Author: Michele Lewane
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.