What to consider when settling a Maryland Workers Compensation case
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When the question of settlement comes up in a Maryland workers compensation case there are certain considerations that must be accounted for by the injured worker. Failure to account for the various benefits and possibility of obtaining those benefits can lead to a significantly lower settlement. The injured worker must also take into account that over exaggeration can lead to a failed settlement attempt. At any given time some or all of the following factors may need to be accounted for in settlement negotiations.
Injured Maryland workers should not attempt to settle their case without first consulting an experienced and qualified workers compensation attorney. In many cases having an attorney involved can lead to significantly more compensation for the injured employee. The below content is for informational purposes and not to be construed as legal advise.
Are there unpaid lost wages/temporary total disability payments the injured Maryland worker is owed?
If the injured worker lost time from work and was written an out of work note by their doctor they may be entitled to lost wage payments. There are other factors to consider when determining if past lost wages are owed however in most cases if the period of time lost is under a few months then the injured worker should consider that in any settlement demand. This will provide, at the very least, some negotiating room. If the period of lost time from work is greater than a few months the injured worker should ensure they have out of work notes from their treating physician, proof that no light duty was offered to them from their employer, and confirm they were not terminated from employment. The injured worker should also note that an independent medical evaluation (IME), termination from employment, lack of out of work notes, or an offer of light duty work can have serious effects on whether workers comp will even consider including lost wages in a settlement offer.
How is future medical care considered in the settlement?
In some cases the Maryland workers comp adjuster will add an additional sum of money to settle the medical portion of the case. If the adjuster is not willing to do so will he or she include a medical cost projection or medical set aside? These are projections or estimates as to what future medical treatment may be required as it relates to the work injury. If there is no suggested future treatment then obtaining more compensation to close out the medical portion of the case may be difficult because there is no added financial exposure on the adjusters side.
Does the Maryland workers compensation settlement consider permanency and reopening for worsening?
At a certain milestone in the workers comp case the injured worker is entitled to permanency and if the case is thereafter reopened then they can obtain more permanency for worsening of physical condition. For further reading see: Money in Maryland Workers Compensation Cases OR Did I go to permanency or settle my case?
At a certain point the injured Maryland worker may be a candidate for vocational rehabilitation
Is voc rehab considered in the settlement? While the injured worker is assisted by a job counselor they will also receive lost wage money. Essentially they are paid by workers comp to look for a job or if the job search is unsuccessful they may be paid to go to school. There are a number of factors to consider when determining if voc rehab money should be considered in the settlement demand. If the injured Maryland worker is unable to return to the occupation in which they were injured because of their related disability then they may qualify however there work function must be determined by a physician or in some cases a functional capacity evaluation (FCE). If there is a strong argument that the employee will eventually have to undergo vocational rehabilitation the expense can be considered in any settlement demand. The wage payments should be considered as well as the money workers comp would have to pay to the vocational counselor.