Floridians who suffer an injury at work are entitled to receive medical care and some lost wage benefits through the workers compensation system. They also have the right to explore the possibility of settling their claims. While this could end up being a great decision, it is important that you understand exactly what happens when you settle a workers compensation case.
Settling a workers compensation case in Florida is completely voluntary. That means that no one can force you to settle your claim. It also means that no one can force the workers compensation insurance carrier to settle a claim with you. It is voluntary for both sides. So long as the insurance carrier is providing you with the benefits you are entitled to – medical care and, in some cases, lost wages – they may not have any further obligation.
If you decide to settle your workers compensation case, what you are in essence doing is trading in all future benefits you could get from that insurance company for a lump sum of money. This means it is very important to understand what future medical care you could still need, how much that medical care is likely to cost the workers compensation insurance carrier, and how much time from work you are still likely to lose in the future. Once you decide to settle your case, the insurance carrier will give you the lump sum of money you negotiated, but they will never again be responsible for providing you with any benefits under Florida’s workers compensation law.
There are many valid reasons why you may choose to settle your workers compensation case. It is entirely possible that you are not satisfied with the treatment you are receiving from the workers compensation doctors, and wish to settle in order to obtain your own medical care. Other times you may be feeling better from your injury and simply want to settle instead of leaving a claim open without treating. Sometimes there are other valid economic necessities that cause someone to explore settlement.
I always recommend speaking with a lawyer if you have been hurt at work in order to be informed of your rights. If you are thinking of settling a workers compensation case, it is even more important that you obtain good, competent legal representation. A knowledgeable workers compensation lawyer will have the experience to understand how claims are evaluated and how much an insurance company is likely to pay for specific injuries and claims. Always keep in mind that insurance companies are not in business to give money away. If they can settle with you for a small fraction of what your case is worth, they will do so. Having an experienced workers compensation lawyer evaluate and negotiate your case for you is likely to result in a much better outcome.