Workers' compensation settlements can have lifelong implications for an injured worker. Typically workers' compensation awards are paid out in a lump sum to injured workers who have permanent total or permanent partial disability to settle their claims. The amount an injured worker receives in a settlement for an injury may not be sufficient to cover permanent injuries stemming from an on the job injury.
Workers' compensation laws vary from state to state, but in general, when an employee is injured on the job, they are entitled by law to be compensated for the time lost from work due to injury.
If an injured worker suffers a permanent injury, after a course of medical treatment, the injured worker's injuries and condition are evaluated in a medical examination typically called an "Independent Medical Examination" (IME), which is paid for by the employer's workers' compensation insurer or the state's governmental agency that oversees workers compensation claims.
The medical provider's opinion may not be unbiased. He or she is being paid for an opinion and they may receive a significant portion of their practice from the insurer or governmental agency requesting the examination.
Injured workers need to be aware of all their rights and should be informed of all their options before accepting a workers compensation settlement. Is the lump sum payment fair based on the injuries sustained and any permanency involved? How will the injuries after the injured worker over their lifetime? These are very important factors to take into consideration.
If the injured worker's claim is denied or he or she does not agree with the disability rating, they have the right to have their case heard by a judge. The judge will hear the case, review the available information, and make a ruling. Since the outcome is uncertain and there is considerable financial risk involved, there may be a time when either the injured worker, the employer, or both do not want to take the chance that judge will make an unfavorable ruling for their case and enter into a settlement.
If you suffer a work injury, you need to be careful to ensure that your rights are protected. Even though you may think of your employer as being amiable to you, their workers' compensation insurer will likely take a different approach. If you accept a workers' compensation settlement, your rights of future recovery will be forever barred.
When an injured employee is facing a disability rating or examination, he or she would do well to consult with a workers' compensation attorney to discuss their case. A skilled attorney can help maximize the recovery for a worker's on the job injury and protect their rights under the law.
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