- Rusty Savoie
WHAT IS THE SETTLEMENT VALUE OF MY WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CLAIM?
There are no “pain and suffering” damages in a workers’ compensation claim. Pain and suffering damages is that money someone is owed merely because they were hurt and suffered pain. That does not exist in workers’ compensation.
Clients often tell me, “They owe me for what this accident has done to my life.” Unfortunately, they do not in a workers’ compensation claim. The only thing they owe you is medical care and a weekly check if your doctor says you cannot work. Pain and suffering damages is what you see on TV in attorney commercials. Those large settlement sums are auto accidents or slip and falls. Workers’ compensation is different.
Once you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), or close to it, I will have my nurse prepare a Medical Cost Projection (MCP). MMI is when your doctor says you are not 100%, but you are as good as you are going to get. You can then attempt to settle your claim. But, if your doctor says, “you are 100%, go back to work,” then settlement is not likely. If that occurs, there is really nothing to settle. The insurance company has no or very little future exposure.
I will use the Medical Cost Projection (MCP) plus any future potential weekly benefits that might be owed to put a dollar figure on the insurance company’s future exposure on your claim and try to negotiate a settlement based on that.
In workers’ compensation, we deal with real numbers and real cost, not “pain and suffering” damages which could be any amount a jury might award. Some cases don’t settle. If your doctor releases you but believes some future surgery may be needed, I may advise you not to settle unless you can tell me you have Medicaid or health insurance to pay for that future treatment.
You cannot force a workers’ compensation insurance company to settle. Do not hire a lawyer who has no experience dealing with workers’ compensation cases who might confuse how to value an auto accident versus a workers’ compensation case. And do not hire a lawyer who is not willing to put the time, effort and money into your claim. You deserve the best representation you can get.