Workers’ compensation pays for medical bills related to an on-the-job injury, temporary total disability benefits, vocational disability, future medical services, and permanent partial or permanent total disability.
Those are a lot of issues to consider. Often there are other issues that an employer will want to consider such as a voluntary resignation and occasionally confidentiality of the terms of the settlement.
Another consideration is the inclusion of “social security language” which can and does protect social security benefits from being reduced if the injured worker obtains social security disability also.
It seems difficult and overly complicated, and it can be. One of the difficulties that lawyers occasionally encounter is judges who have different standards for approving a settlement. Some judges just will not close future medical benefits and other judges require future medical benefits be handled by a third-party administrator. All judges advise injured workers of their rights in a settlement. Some judges do it very simply by telling the injured worker that if they get better, they keep the money, but if they get worse, they don’t get any more and advise them about their rights to keep their future medical benefits open for life. I’ve never seen a judge do a bad job, but I have seen different standards applied by different courts.
In my opinion, sometimes it’s extremely advantageous to close future medical benefits simply because there is no future medical treatment related to the injury. If someone is on expensive medication or has hardware that can potentially cause problems, then absolutely leave medicals open. On the other hand, the next time somebody has a fall or a car accident, the workers’ compensation carrier will deny treatment and the injured worker won’t get medical treatment and may not be entitled to it.
There are other ways to get settlements approved, but the important point is that the injured workers understand their rights and make the decision that is best for them.
Buckle up, drive safely, and as always, your referrals are appreciated!