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Is a lump sum settlement right for your workers' comp claim?

Your workplace accident left you with a painful recovery, lost wages and questions about your future. After applying for Pennsylvania workers' compensation, you thought all you had to do was follow the instructions of your doctor and insurer to secure the benefits you needed to protect your family from financial crisis.

You probably didn't expect the workers' compensation claims process to be as tedious and uncertain as it was, including paperwork, interviews and seeking medical care from approved doctors. After all that, the insurer arrived at an offer of benefits based on your medical bills, missed work and disability. You now have some decisions to make about accepting the offer or pursuing a higher amount.

When is a lump sum a good idea?

Insurance companies are not famous for making generous offers, and workers' compensation insurers are no different. While their goal is to get you back to work quickly, they are also businesses that want to save money along the way. If you and your attorney decide to seek a settlement instead of accepting the insurer's offer, you will likely consider additional expenses, such as legal fees and the possibility that you will require medical care beyond the scope of the insurance company's offer.

You may need to go to trial to seek a higher amount from the insurer, but often these matters settle through negotiation. Your next question is whether to take the settlement in payments or as a lump sum. Each option has it benefits and drawbacks, but a lump sum may be to your advantage in the following circumstances:

  • You do not expect to have additional expenses related to your workplace accident, such as future surgeries.
  • Your health is improving, and there is little danger that you will use up the lump sum amount before you complete your medical care.
  • You have other urgent expenses that a lump sum will help pay for.
  • You want to know exactly what to expect from your settlement instead of waiting for a check periodically.

It is important to understand that if you accept a lump sum settlement, the workers' compensation insurer will require you to sign a release that will prevent you from seeking additional funds for the same injury. This is why it is important that you enter into any negotiations with as much information as you can obtain and with solid advice from trusted legal sources.

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