If you sustained a serious injury at your place of work, you may be already looking to obtain workers’ compensation, without knowing exactly what this entails. There are slight differences in workers’ compensation laws from state to state, but basically the process is similar: you file a claim, this is reviewed for validity and, if approved, you begin collecting a monthly benefit. You may however be wondering how much this case of workers’ compensation is actually worth and will it be enough to cover medical bills and make up for lost wages?
There’s no simple answer to that. A lot of factors and details influence the amount you’ll end up getting out of your settlement. But understanding those factors could give you a sense of what to expect.
1. Severity of the injury
To begin with, benefit amounts will largely differ from one case to another, and this is largely depending on how severe an injury has been. In cases where an employee is left totally unfit for working duties, there will be a benefit calculated according to a fixed formula. If your injury limits your capacity to work without depriving you of it, the benefit will be calculated according to a rating system and you will be entitled to wage differential benefits.
2. State law
There may be some differences in the way the benefit amount is established from state to state. There is general consensus among most states that a worker rendered unfit for work is entitled to up to two-thirds of his average weekly income. In most states, however, the benefit amount is limited by a set average income.
3. Insurance company policy
In theory, workers’ compensation law is meant to provide quick and efficient compensation for medical bills and lost wages in the event of an injury sustained at work. From the insurance companies’ vantage point, it should make up for the minimum medical care and a certain amount of lost wages. Therefore, they may try to approach you and offer you a smaller settlement, thinking you’ll be desperate enough to accept it.
Be sure to consult with a personal injury lawyer before considering such an offer. A specialized lawyer can give you a clearer understanding of what your workers’ compensation case is really worth and ensure you won’t settle for less. A competent personal injury lawyer will take into consideration these and other factors (your age, education, personal injuries and your chances of physical and psychological recovery, your wages and work history) to give you a rough estimate of what you can hope for in compensation. If you enlist his help, he will assess the case as if it were going to trial, gather evidence and witnesses and may assist you in recovering more for your claim.
Bear in mind that a statute of limitations applies, so it is important to file for workers compensation as soon as you can. The longer you wait, the more likely you will be suspected of fraud when you do file a workers’ compensation claim.