How are Workplace Injury Settlements Structured?

woman filling out workers compensation form online

Cash for Structured Settlements?

When a worker is injured, he or she does do not always receive a cash settlement for the injury.  As a general rule, settlements are paid only if the worker receives a permanent injury caused by an on-the-job accident.  If you do receive a settlement, most settlements are paid in one check/a lump sum.

Installment Payments for Workplace Injuries

There are exceptions to this rule. The Indiana Workers Compensation Act does give the insurance carrier the right to pay a settlement in weekly installments at the same rate as your weekly workers compensation temporary total disability rate.  For example, if you are off work 2 months and received $400 a week in temporary total disability (lost wages) benefits, an insurance company can pay your settlement at the same rate until the settlement is paid in full.  Most insurance companies do not enjoy paying settlements in weekly installments, so they typically pay the settlement in a lump sum.

Lump Sum Settlements

If a settlement is paid in a lump sum, the insurance carrier has the right to take a present-value discount.  Most carriers do not do this, but they do have the legal right to do so.  A present-value discount is like winning the lottery and asking to receive the money in a lump sum versus installments.  If you win the lottery and win $1 million, and you are given the right to take the money today or over the next 20 years, you will receive a smaller check if you take the money today.  That is the concept of present value.  In the case of settling a workers comp case, if you have a $10,000 workers compensation settlement, and you elect to take the money in a lump sum, the insurance company could discount that amount. In reality, that rarely happens because insurance companies typically just want to close your file.

You Can Contest the Insurance Company’s Settlement Offer

In many cases an insurance company will say that your injury is not permanent and that you are not entitled to a settlement.  In that situation, you are not required to accept the insurance company’s position.  You have the right to get your own medical opinion and argue that your injury is permanent.  Our law firm is seeing a trend in recent years of insurance companies utilizing specific insurance friendly doctors to say that injuries are not permanent.  If you have seen such a doctor and the doctor gives you a 0% PPI, 1% PPI, or another low PPI, please remember that that PPI is not set in stone.  You can negotiate for a higher settlement.  You can hire your own doctor who may give you a higher PPI, and you can consider other avenues of increasing the value of your case.

Hire an Experienced Workers Comp Attorney to Help You Negotiate a Fair Cash Settlement

If you think you are entitled to a higher settlement than the one offered to you by the insurance company, you are best off hiring an attorney who is competent in workers compensation cases.  If you have any questions about a cash settlement under the Indiana Workers Compensation laws, please contact one of the attorneys at Klezmer Maudlin.