Settling Your Workers Compensation Case
The theory behind workers’ comp is that it is a no-fault insurance which provides benefits to workers injured on the job. In return, workers implicitly agree not to sue their employers. Two exceptions exist to Mississippi’s no-fault rules. First, if an employee’s intoxication or impairment from drugs is responsible for the injury, it may not be covered under workers’ comp. The second exception is if the employee willfully intended to harm him or herself.
Immediate Injuries, Work-Related Illnesses and Repetitive Stress Injuries are Covered
Many people mistakenly believe the only injuries which are covered under workers’ comp are those which are both clear and immediate. As examples of such immediate injuries, suppose a piece of machinery in the workplace is responsible for the loss of a finger, an employee suffers a slip and fall, or an employee is injured while lifting something in the workplace. While these are certainly covered until Mississippi workers’ comp laws, so are such things as repetitive stress injuries, or an illness caused by long-term toxic exposure in the workplace.
Being injured on the job can leave you anxious about your finances and worried about your health. If your injury has left you with significant medical expenses and you are unable to return to your job (at least for a period of time), you are entitled to workers’ comp. It is important, however, to understand that workers’ compensation insurance companies don’t want to pay any more for claims than absolutely necessary. At some point, the insurance company may approach you with a settlement offer. It is important to know that any workers’ comp settlement is voluntary. You do not have to agree to the settlement offered, and your employer and/or the insurance company do not have to agree to settle your claim.
Workers Comp Settlements
If the injury you sustained at work resulted in a permanent impairment—but you are not totally disabled—you may be entitled to a settlement for that impairment. Your employer or its insurance company may offer you a settlement with a dollar amount equivalent to—or slightly less than—what you would receive through “normal” workers’ comp benefits.
The difference in collecting normal workers’ comp benefits and agreeing to a settlement is that you will be required to give up something in return for a settlement. That “something” you give up could be the right to argue you are permanently and totally disabled, the right to future medical care and the right to argue a specific medical condition is related to your original workers’ comp claim.
In some cases where you sustained a temporary total disability due to a workplace accident, the workers’ comp insurer may not have paid you benefits you were entitled to, or might have paid you less than you were entitled to. The company may then offer a lump-sum settlement for the amount you are owed in return for your agreement to not pursue compensation. Another time the insurer might offer a settlement is in exchange for your agreement to stop pursuing reimbursement for medical expenses related to your injury.
Your settlement offer could be in the form of one lump sum or could be a structured settlement. If you receive a lump-sum settlement you will be required to sign a settlement agreement which gives up certain rights. If you receive a structured settlement, you will receive smaller payments of a period of time. A settlement is a guaranteed benefit—should you refuse the settlement you could potentially end up with few, if any, benefits, or you could receive more benefits than the settlement offer. It is extremely important that you speak to a Mississippi workers’ comp attorney prior to accepting a settlement offer.
If you have been injured while on the job, it is important to speak to one of our experienced and skilled Mississippi worker's compensation lawyers immediately. At Coxwell & Associates, PLLC, our attorneys fight aggressively for injured employees and their families – to ensure that they receive the money they need to fully recover. Contact Coxwell & Associates today at (601) 265-7766 or (601) 265-7766.
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