According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 2.8 out of 100 workers get injured on the job every year. Since workers’ comp legal battles tend to be lengthy, most of these cases usually end up in a settlement. If you’re one of those considering to settle, you’re probably wondering how much workers’ compensation settlement amount you should get.
On average, injured employees can expect a worker’s comp settlement anywhere from $1,800 to as much as $50,000. The amount varies widely because there are a lot of factors that can affect your settlement amount. How you choose to receive your settlement (lump sum or structured payment) will matter too. But more on that later.
In reality, getting a fair workers’ comp settlement amount is not an easy task. Not to mention that the workers’ compensation settlement process itself can be very confusing.
In addition, your employer and insurance provider will try to pay you as little as they possibly can get away with. As an employee, you most likely don’t have much experience with workers’ comp settlement. Unless you get injured on a regular basis. While your insurance provider has had much experience on the matter. In short, you’re at a major disadvantage.
Remember that payment of the settlement amount terminates your insurance provider’s responsibility to you. Once the settlement agreement is set, that’s it. No matter what happens to you, they can’t be held liable.
This is why you should consult a workers’ compensation lawyer before agreeing to a settlement amount. They’ve had years of experience handling such cases so they’ll know how much you should get. They can also negotiate with your employer and insurance provider so you get the amount you rightfully deserve.
How Workers’ Comp Settlements Work
Almost all states require businesses to provide workers comp insurance for their employees. This not only protects the worker but also safeguards the employer against unexpected expenses due to work-related accidents.
Since workers’ compensation is implemented on a state level, the policies vary all across the country. But in general, states adopt a no-fault policy. This means that no matter who’s at fault, the employee can still get workers’ comp benefits.
Getting your workers’ comp benefits starts with filing a claim. In most states, you need to file a claim within 30 days after you’ve known about your injury. Otherwise, you may lose some or all of your benefits.
Once you filed a claim, the insurance company will evaluate all the evidence presented. In some cases, they may also conduct an in-depth investigation if there are any doubts about your claim.
If they deny your claim, you can take it to court. The court will then decide how much you should receive or if you’ll receive anything at all.
But if your claim gets approved, then the settlement amount will be computed. The rules vary per state but in general, your workers’ compensation settlement will include medical fees and lost wages.
Factors Affecting Workers’ Comp Settlement Amount
As mentioned, there are many factors that can affect workers’ compensation settlements. This includes:
Since each state has different workers comp rules, how much you’ll receive also depends on your state’s regulations.
Medical benefits are uncapped in most states except for Montana, Tennessee, and Arkansas. This means that in the states not mentioned, employees can claim payments for their medical treatments in full.
Lost wages compensation amount also varies per state. Most states pay 66.67% of your weekly earnings before the injury. But in Alaska, Iowa, Maine, and Michigan, you can get up to 80% of your pre-injury income. While in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, you are only entitled to 60%.
Type of Disability
For the sake of workers compensation, disabilities arising from work-related injuries are classified into four types:
- temporary partial disability
- permanent partial disability
- temporary total disability
- permanent total disability
Each type of disability entitles the injured worker to varying amounts of benefits. In general, permanent disability entitles the injured worker to a lifetime pension. While some states like Florida set a cap on how long you can only receive benefits for temporary disabilities.
Total disabilities also typically entitle the worker to a higher compensation amount than partial disabilities.
In most states, employers and insurance companies are required to pay workers comp benefits right away after your claim is approved. If they fail to do this, then you might be entitled to back pay.
In workers comp, back pay refers to the benefits you should have received from the time you were injured to when you actually received your payout. This can include penalties and reimbursement for medical expenses that weren’t paid by the employer.
Settlement agreements that drag on for months or years tend to have substantial back pay.
As mentioned, most states don’t put a cap on how much medical benefits you’re entitled to. You can claim reimbursement for emergency treatments, medical supplies, rehabilitative treatments, and the like. So the amount of medical benefits you can receive depends on the nature and extent of your disability. Injured workers who need complicated surgeries obviously get higher medical benefits than those who only require a few stitches.
During the settlement process, you will get to choose if you want to receive your benefits as a lump sum or structured settlements.
If you choose the former, you’ll get all your benefits right away which may include anticipated medical expenses. But then, if that money runs out, you’ll be left with no income to support you. Especially if you still can’t go back to work or do any type of work. Plus, you may have to waive your rights to any reimbursements for future medical care. Though in some states, you may still retain your rights to medical treatments even if you opt for a lump sum settlement.
Structured settlements, on the other hand, entitles you to periodic payments. Compared to a lump sum settlement, the payments will be a lot smaller. But you’ll have guaranteed income until you can go back to work.
Depending on how your settlement structure is worded, you may also receive a combination of lump sum and structured payments.
VICTOR MALCA – Florida Workers Compensation & Social Security Disability Attorney
Victor Malca P.A. has over 27 years of litigation experience in Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability lawsuits. His experience and continued success when fighting for his clients puts him among the most trusted workers’ compensation attorney’s in Florida. He specializes in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claiming lost social security disability benefits.
Book a free consultation today. Our unwavering advocacy for employee rights and privileges are recognized by our past clients across South Florida.
About The Author
Judy Ponio is a writer and editor for the Victor Malca Law P.A. website and blog. She enjoys helping people in need with questions about social security disability and workers compensation law. She has a passion for helping those in need and the elderly with accurate legal information that can make a positive difference in their lives.