Recovering a lump sum settlement in your workers’ compensation case is not something that always happens.
First, there are juries, no damage trials and no verdicts in workers’ compensation like you see in an auto accident negligence case. Judges in workers’ compensation do not have the authority to order the insurance company to pay out a cash lump sum.
Second, the only way we can settle is through a negotiated settlement with the insurance company. We have to convince them that a lump sum payout now is cheaper than keeping your case open for years to come and paying out unknown dollars in future medical costs and lost wage benefits.
Insurance Companies are Not Required to Settle with You
Your employer’s insurance company does not have to settle your case – if they choose they can pay out lost wage benefits (with a maximum exposure in most cases of about 7 1/2 years) and they can pay for medical care for as long as your medical impairment continues.
As a practical matter, however, insurance companies prefer to settle for a lump sum so that they can close their file and not have to worry about unknown financial exposure in the future.
When we decide that your case is ready for settlement – and this decision to settle must be made with great thought and care – I will engage the insurance adjuster or opposing counsel in a direct negotiation. Many times, these direct negotiations are successful and we arrive at a number that everyone can live with.
However, for a variety of reasons, negotiations may bog down. For example, our bottom line may be $100,000, while the insurance company may not budge over $50,000.
Mediations Help Facilitate Settlements
When negotiations stall, a mediation using a third part “neutral” can be a good way to get negotiations back on track and moving towards settlement. I know and have appeared before many excellent workers’ compensation mediators who are trusted by all parties and the mediation process works well.
As I discuss in this video, your mediation will usually take place at a mediation facility (or it can take place in an attorney’s office). We present our case to the mediator as does the insurance company. The mediator will meet separately with us and with a representative of the insurance company. Over the course of 3 to 6 hours (usually), the mediator will moderate negotiations between the parties.
Mediations usually speed up the process because everyone is in the same room at the same time with the goal of reaching a settlement. A good mediator helps by showing both sides the strengths and weaknesses of their arguments. We do not have to agree to a settlement at mediation but more often than not, mediation proves very effective in getting your case settled for a cash lump sum.
If you’d like to know more about how mediation could work in your case, please contact me at 770-351-0801.