At some point, we end up discussing settlement in virtually every workers' compensation case. That does not mean every case settles, it just means the issue WILL come up.
You are not entitled to a settlement
Employers and insurance company don't owe injured workers a settlement or money damages for being hurt on the job. They owe wages and they owe medical care, period. Those topics are covered in great detail on this site. Unlike with wages or medical, where we can go to court and ask the judge to force your employer or their insurance company to provide the disputed items, we do not go to court to ask for a fair settlement or because we did not like a settlement offer that was made. The court will not and cannot force them to provide you with anything other than wages and medical because the judge lacks the ability to do so. We only arrive at settlements through negotiation.
What we need to settle a case
To settle a workman's compensation case, a couple of key ingredients are necessary. First, we need two willing parties. Sometimes that is merely a timing issue: on many occasions, offers come in but my clients' future medical and wage benefits are uncertain at that point, making settlement too much of a risk. Other times, my clients want to settle but the other side, for whatever reason, has little interest. Unless both sides are ready to talk settlement at the same time, it will not happen. Second, we need agreement on a wide variety of issues, the most important of which has to do with how much money they will pay you. That is not always the only important consideration, however - many settlements are very complex and they seem to get more complicated all the time.
Evaluating your case
Every case is different. There is no workers' compensation settlement calculator and there is no workers' compensation settlement formula. When you settle, you are essentially trading whatever remaining workers' compensation wage and medical benefits you have for a lump sum of money. It is your expected future workers' compensation wages and future workers' compensation medical care that determine the workers' compensation settlement amount, past benefits paid are largely irrelevant. Since workers' compensation wages do end, whereas workers' compensation medical care can continue indefinitely, many times the future medical care is the only consideration at settlement time.
As much as we hate it, pain and suffering, loss of earning capacity and similar sorts of damages are not a factor at settlement time. It is horribly unfair because we have seen lives torn apart, homes lost, careers ended and families devastated as a result of workplace accidents. The legislature in Tallahassee deserves the credit for this injustice as they control what benefits injured workers receive.
Workers' comp settlement lawyers are highly skilled at figuring out what cases are worth. We know how to read the medical reports, we know what questions to ask your doctors and after >20 years years of assisting people with work injuries, chances are that I have dealt with many cases similar to yours in the past. We also don't just take the cases as we find them - we can almost always take steps which will make your case worth more! Don't settle your case for a penny less than it is worth - injuries sustained at work can have lifelong consequences.
In many cases, this is the most important service we provide. We seek the absolute maximum recovery on each and every case and take pride in our aggressive, skillful negotiating. Our small office means that we are personally involved with every case which tends to improve the results, sometimes dramatically. We have the time to give your case the attention it deserves. Mr. Solt is also certified by the Florida Supreme Court as a mediator and routinely does workers' comp mediations. This gives us added insight into how particular attorneys, adjusters and carriers operate which we can then use to help you.
Negotiation is an art. Although many cases share similarities, each negotiation is different. A one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter approach to negotiating does not yield the best results yet this is what many attorneys provide. Many attorneys don't even show up to mediations in person OR if they do, it's the first time meeting the client. Crazy. You won't find that at our office - one prominent local mediator, who sees literally hundreds of attorneys per year in his office, rates our negotiating as the best in southwest Florida, bar none. We are proud of that distinction and feel that the creativity we display at the negotiating table most definitely pays dividends for both you and us.
Never discuss settlement of your workers' comp case with your employer or your adjuster
Adjusters are professional negotiators and their job is to get you to accept he lowest settlement amount possible. If you talk to them, they can often figure out in second or minutes what you will take and once they do, you will never receive a penny more. Why shoot yourself in the foot and limit your recovery? Don't negotiate or even discuss the idea of settling with your employer or their insurance carrier without first consulting a workers compensation settlement lawyer. Routinely, we get cases where settlement has already been discussed and too much was said or the wrong thing was said. Most of the the time, once you let that genie out of the bottle, we can't convince the carrier to pay as much as we would have been able to if you had contacted an attorney before discussing settlement.
Making an educated, informed decision about your workers' comp settlement
As mentioned above, some cases settle that probably shouldn't. The opposite is also true - some cases don't settle that probably should. Our clients make the ultimate decision as to whether to settle or not and that can be a tough choice. We are here to help and more importantly, to inform and educate you about the pros and cons of settling versus keeping your case open. Our goal is to make sure that regardless of whether you say "yes" or "no" in the end, it is an informed, educated "yes" or "no." Once we have armed you with all the tools you need to make the best decision possible and obtained the best settlement offer possible, then the ball is in your court.
The bottom line about the settlement of your workers comp case
Don't go it alone. We love fighting to get the best possible outcome for you. Our aggressiveness and creativity when it comes to settlement are unmatched and as a small office, we have the time to devote to making sure your case gets the attention it deserves.
I have been negotiating work comp settlements for over 20 years and takes particular pride in my skill at negotiating workers' compensation settlements. It is a chess match that I enjoy, but one with serious stakes. Most likely your injuries will be lifelong so you need to get as much as possible if you are going to settle.
For firms that have huge volume and thousands of clients, then putting the time in to maximize the settlement of each and every case would probably not be productive or perhaps even possible. Since my office is a small office, we simply can't afford to settle cases for anything less than the maximum possible amount. We work hard for you because it's the right thing to do and because my livelihood depends on getting good results in your case and every case.
Do you want to be a number and be constantly frustrated or do you want a workers' comp settlement lawyer who pays attention to your case?
Finally, get a local attorney. Many firms who negotiate workers compensation settlements are located elsewhere. Can you sit down with your attorney when necessary? Is your attorney really going to drive from Miami or Tampa to mediate your case when the time comes? Do they know the mediators, judges, doctors and defense attorneys like a local attorney would? Even if it is not us, get somebody local, it's the smart move.