If you are injured at work, you will most likely be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. These are provided on a no-fault basis, and all Pennsylvania employers are required to carry workers’ comp insurance for any employees who may become injured on the job. There are some exceptions for railway workers, offshore workers, and federal government employees, but these people are covered by other types of compensation.
Most workers receive weekly workers’ compensation payments, which should cover two-thirds of their average weekly wage (up to $1,130 per week, as of 2021). Workers’ compensation also covers all medical expenses associated with the work-related injury. For permanently disabled workers, weekly payments may continue for as many as 500 weeks. There are some cases, however, where a settlement may be preferable to weekly payments.
A workers’ compensation settlement, sometimes referred to as a “buyout,” may involve a one-time payment or a structured settlement that’s paid to the injured worker over time. In exchange for this payment or series of payments, the worker relinquishes their right to receive future workers’ compensation benefits.
How Does a Workers’ Compensation Settlement Work?
Seriously injured workers may be eligible for lump-sum settlements that replace their weekly workers’ compensation benefits and pay their medical expenses. Some workers’ comp settlements are structured, meaning the worker is paid a certain amount of money at specific intervals until the entire sum is paid. It’s important to note that the settlement amount cannot exceed the worker’s weekly compensation benefits multiplied by 500 (the maximum number of weeks an injured worker can receive workers’ compensation).
Is a Workers’ Comp Buyout the Right Option for Me?
There are advantages and disadvantages to accepting a workers’ compensation buyout. The most obvious advantage is receiving all of your benefits immediately, instead of waiting to be paid every week. You can also close your claim, no longer having to deal with the insurance company or any uncertainty that your right to benefits could be jeopardized if you get a new job.
On the other hand, you will lose your right to any additional benefits for your work injury. You need to be certain that you’ve reached Maximum Medical Improvement before you accept a settlement. This means you have reached a point where you have healed as much as possible, and your doctor does not expect to see further improvement in your condition.
When you receive a workers’ compensation settlement for medical expenses, this means you would be ineligible for additional benefits. If you end up needing additional treatment or suffer from unforeseen complications, you would have already received your workers’ compensation settlement and would not be able to pursue more money for your care. You need to carefully consider your medical condition and your doctor’s predictions before you accept a settlement for medical expenses.
Ask a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you were injured at work and will be unable to return for at least four months, your employer and their insurance company may be eager to offer a settlement. They may even propose this settlement when you make your initial workers’ comp claim. Be wary of accepting their first offer. These companies are generally more interested in protecting their interests than helping injured workers get the financial support they need to move on with their lives, and they may offer unfairly low settlements in the hopes that they can avoid paying as much as they should for your work-related injury.
Instead of unintentionally accepting an unfair offer or being pressured into a settlement that does not cover all your medical expenses and lost earnings, involve a Pennsylvania workers’ comp attorney who can protect your interests. Have your attorney carefully review any settlement offered by your employer or their workers’ comp insurance company. Only accept if you believe it’s the right thing to do.
For more information on workers’ comp settlements and the ways our work injury lawyers can help you, contact Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC! Our team includes J. Jeffrey Watson, who is uniquely qualified to handle on-the-job accident and injury claims. Attorney Watson is certified as a specialist in workers' compensation law by the Pennsylvania Bar Association as authorized by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Ready to get started? Your consultation is free and confidential. We’ve served workers throughout Pennsylvania for nearly a century and stand ready to see how we can serve you. Call (888) 498-3023 today!