Many legal cases are ultimately resolved through a settlement. Workers’ compensation cases in Virginia are no different. If you have been injured at work and are in the middle of the claims process, you may be in a position to consider a settlement offer.
While settlements are often a good way to bring certainty to a sometimes-unpredictable workers’ compensation experience, they also mean that you would be giving up important rights by settling. Therefore, it is important to understand the full terms of a settlement before you choose to sign on the bottom line.
In addition, it would be highly recommended that you consult with a qualified Virginia workers’ compensation attorney before making a big decision to settle your workers’ compensation case. With decades of experience, the attorneys at The Injured Workers Law Firm are well-versed in the types of settlements used to typically resolve such cases. We understand the value of a workers’ compensation case and have negotiated many, many settlements in the past. Call us for a free consultation at 804-755-7755 before deciding to settle your case. We may be able to find that you have more leverage in the settlement negotiation than you previously thought.
How Long Do Settlements Take?
There is no hard and fast rule for the length of time a workers’ compensation settlement could take. The duration of time a case takes to settle depends on several factors, including the type of injury, any special facts in the case, the willingness of the injured party to resolve the case, and the reasonableness of the insurance carrier. Some cases settle in a matter of hours after negotiations begin, some may take over a year.
Indeed, some claimants suffering from an injury are willing to hold out to negotiate for higher compensation, while others will be fine with accepting a lower benefit to obtain closure and avoid the stress of further back-and-forth discussions. By the same token, some insurance adjusters will want to be difficult to minimize the amount of payout, while others will be more reasonable in negotiations from the start.
In sum, you, as a claimant, will want to weigh the pros and cons of any negotiation strategy. In that vein, having an experienced Virginia workers’ compensation attorney in your corner, advising you, is invaluable in the long run.
As with the length of time it takes to settle, the amount you can expect from a settlement depends upon several factors. The nature of the injury, of course, is paramount. But other factors could include the injured workers average weekly wage, the temperature of negotiations on both sides, and the leverage each side has or believes they have.
The best way to understand the type of settlement amount you could receive is to look at some examples. At The Injured Workers Law Firm, we have had the following results:
- Security Officer who lost both legs. A security officer, traveling between his two security jobs, passed a car accident on the road and stopped to assist the police officer on the scene. Because of the icy road conditions, another car struck the security officer while he was trying to help. The security officer lost both of his legs in the accident. After the workers’ compensation insurance company denied his claim, The Injured Workers Law Firm represented him in mediation against the insurance company. The security officer ultimately obtained a $245,000 settlement for his injuries and was free to make a personal injury claim against the driver who hit him.
- Officer Worker who suffered a severe back injury. An office worker suffered serious injuries when his office chair broke. Although the worker received the full 500 weeks of temporary total disability benefits, the insurance company denied him permanent total disability benefits. The Injured Workers Law Firm was certain that this worker was permanently and totally disabled, with medical evidence to prove it. Accordingly, we were ready to litigate the matter before the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. However, at mediation prior to the hearing, we were able to obtain a $230,000 lump sum settlement, as well as a payment of $1,278.90 per month for life.
For more information about the settlements obtained for our clients at The Injured Workers Law Firm, click here to see our successful case results.
How Do Settlements Work?
Workers’ compensation settlements can come in several forms, including:
- Full and final settlement: This is the most common type of settlement for workers’ compensation claims in Virginia, in which an insurance company will give a one-time lump sum payment to an injured party. In exchange, the injured party gives up the right to ongoing disability payments and lifetime medical benefits.
- Lump sum with open medical payments: This type of settlement includes a lump sum from the insurance company to give up the right to ongoing disability payments, but the worker keeps his lifetime medical benefits.
- Structured settlements: This type of settlement will structure a particular payout to the injured party in a certain amount over a period of time. In exchange, the injured party will release an insurer from further liability under a workers’ compensation claim.
With regard to how settlements “work” in terms of logistics, the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission is involved in the process. Specifically, once the insurance company and injured party reach a workers’ compensation settlement, the settlement is then filed with the Commission for approval. The Commission can’t force a settlement and is not involved with the negotiations.
If the Commission believes that the settlement is in the best interest of the injured party, then the settlement will be approved. If, however, the Commission does not approve the settlement, then the settlement is void – even if the injured party has agreed to it.
Settlement Charts and Calculators
There is no simple formula to arrive at the best settlement for your case. However, we at The Injured Workers Law Firm have provided some helpful information to calculate your expected earnings under Virginia’s workers’ compensation law, including Virginia’s Workers’ Compensation Benefits Chart.
Armed with that information, when it comes to settlement offers from an insurance company, there are some factors you should keep in mind. Those factors include:
- Your chance for recovery under Virginia law, given that certain accidents, may not be covered
- Your average weekly wage before your injury
- The extent of your disability due to the work-related injury
- The time you would be out of work, and the chance of obtaining light-duty work
- How much temporary disability payments you have already received
- The degree of your loss of use of a body part, given that Virginia law assigns different values to different body parts
- The likely cost of future medical treatment
Ultimately, the best way to know that a settlement offer is a good one is to have an attorney, who has handled many workers’ compensation cases in the past, advise you on the best course of action.
Advantages of Settlements
After a job-related injury in Virginia, there may be some instances in the course of your Virginia’s Workers’ Compensation case in which it is in your best interest to accept a settlement, but you should never do so without first speaking to a Workers’ Comp law attorney.
There are several reasons to settle a Virginia Workers’ Compensation case. For instance, going to trial can be expensive and you may find a lump sum appealing.
It is important to take into consideration, however, that accepting a settlement waives your employer and your employer’s insurer of any liability to pay your future lost wages or medical benefits, so you should never make this decision without speaking to a Workers’ Comp law attorney.
Neither side can force a settlement agreement, so you are under no obligation to accept an offer the insurance company makes. Each settlement must also be approved by the Virginian Workers’ Compensation Commission, which will approve only settlements that serve the best interest of injured workers.
You should always speak with an attorney before you make any decisions about your Virginia Workers’ Compensation case. You are more likely to receive a larger settlement offer from the insurance company if you have an attorney involved in the process, and the standard attorney’s fee on a settlement is 20%.
Consultations with a Workers’ Comp law attorney are no-cost and no-obligation, so speak with one today to determine your best course of action about your Virginia Workers’ Compensation case.
At The Injured Workers Law Firm, we have the experience to be able to give you a realistic sense of what your case is worth and the value of a particular settlement offer. Call us at 804-755-7755 to consult with one of our expert attorneys.