Most employees in Tennessee may be familiar with workers’ compensation claims and the benefits, such as medical care and lost wages, they can expect following a job-related injury. Fewer people, however, may know about workers' compensation settlements and when this may be an alternative to claiming weekly benefits.
Below, Greg Coleman Law explains more about the workers’ comp settlement process, including when accepting your workers' comp insurer's offer may benefit you more than weekly benefits in the long run.
If you have questions about your own workers’ comp claim, we are available to help. Call our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys in Knoxville to discuss your situation and get answers to your legal questions in a no-cost, hassle-free consultation.
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Do All Injured Workers Get a Settlement Offer?
When Tennessee employees get hurt while performing their job duties, they are likely to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, they may not all necessarily receive a settlement offer as the result of their work injury. While an offer to settle may be made by your employer’s workers’ comp insurance carrier, there is no requirement for them to do so. Similarly, if you receive an offer, you may consider it, but you are not obligated to accept it.
Insurance carriers may sometimes offer a settlement if they determine it could reduce their overall payout on a claim. Insurance companies always have strategies for protecting their profit margin while minimally meeting their obligation to policyholders - even in a workers’ comp claim.
An injury that is likely to require multiple surgeries, physical therapy and maybe even rehabilitation is going to be a long and expensive claim. In this situation, even if they have to pay out a large sum of money at once, it is a one-and-done deal. Whereas continuing to pay weekly benefits could go on indefinitely and may even cost them more money in the long run.
In a smaller claim, such as if you sprained your ankle and only needed to rest up for a couple of weeks, receiving an offer to settle is unlikely.
Is It Always Better to Accept a Workers' Comp Settlement Offer?
Even when an offer sounds attractive, it may not always be in your best interest to accept it. Before considering any settlement offer, we strongly recommend that you first:
- Wait until you reach your maximum medical improvement - This is the point at which your doctor has determined you have recovered to your fullest possible extent.
- Speak to a qualified attorney about your situation - Having an attorney represent you to review your situation and provide legal insight helps to ensure the compensation you are being offered is fair.
It is important to understand that once an offer is finalized, you cannot go back and reopen your claim or seek additional compensation, even if your injuries worsen. Having an attorney on your side can help to make sure you understand exactly what terms and financial compensation you are accepting. Without the help of an attorney, your offer may fall far short and leave you paying additional medical costs on your own.
How Are Tennessee Workers’ Comp Settlements Finalized?
Tennessee workers' comp claims are not final until they have been reviewed and approved by a judge. Once you have reached an agreement on the amount of compensation you will receive, you can expect these next steps to finalize your settlement:
- The workers' comp insurance adjuster - or their attorney - will contact you with the date and time for your settlement review.
- The insurance carrier's attorney will meet with you to explain the document at the appointed Bureau of Workers' Comp office.
- You may ask the insurance company's attorney questions about the agreement - but keep in mind they do not represent you.
- After going over the agreement with the insurance company's attorney, the judge will also meet with you.
- The judge's role is to make sure the agreement is in your best interest and that you fully understand the terms.
- After this review, the judge will ask if you want the agreement approved.
At this point, the judge will likely approve your settlement agreement, especially if you are being represented by an attorney. It is rare that an agreement would not be approved once it reaches this stage.
Call Our Trusted Firm for Legal Help After a Work Injury
When recovering from a work injury, any settlement offer may sound like a lot of money, especially if you are also under financial stress. Our attorneys can help protect your interests and ensure you are treated fairly throughout the workers' comp legal process, whether or not you receive a settlement offer.
Learn more by speaking with one of our qualified attorneys in a free legal consultation. There is no risk and no obligation after this meeting. If we represent you, there is nothing to pay up front or while we work on your case. We only get paid if you do.
Experienced Lawyers. No Upfront Costs. (865) 247-0080