If you were injured at work and have hired a lawyer to sue your workers' compensation insurance company, at some point, you're probably going to get a settlement offer from the insurer. The insurer will want to settle rather than going to court, as this process save them (and possibly you) lots of time and money. What you need to ask yourself, however, is whether or not you should take the settlement offer. Here are some factors to consider as you make this decision.
1. Does the settlement offer cover all of your expenses?
Work with your lawyer to add up all of your expenses related to the case. This should include your legal fees, medical expenses, lost wages, and future lost wages. Make sure the settlement offer completely covers these expenses. If it does not, you should absolutely not accept it. Have your lawyer counter with an offer that does cover your full costs. If the settlement offer does cover all of your costs, you may want to accept it, depending on the other factors below.
2. Does the offer adequately compensate you for future lost wages?
Depending on the nature of your injury, you may not be able to earn as much in the future as you would have had you not been injured. Your lawyer can help you calculate the total amount of lost wages you'll miss out on. This is a common place where insurance companies try to skimp when making a settlement offer. Say you and your lawyer figure you will miss out on $100,000 in income over your lifetime. The insurance company may only account for $20,000 of lost income in their offer.
If you are still able to be reasonably employed with your injury, you may want to accept the offer even if it's a bit short on future wage compensation. After all, taking the settlement will mean you don't spend the whole next year in and out of court. But if your injuries are substantial and you fear you won't be able to work much, if at all, really push the insurance company to increase this compensation.
3. Does the offer make stipulations for future medical changes?
If you are not sure how your condition will continue to heal and develop, then the offer should make provisions for that. For example, it should specify that if your condition is found to be worsening, you are eligible to receive a certain amount of extra funds. If the settlement does not include such stipulations, ask your lawyer to request that they are added.