When you’re suffering from a work-related injury, you want relief as soon as possible. You’re worried about your health, but also worried about getting back to your job. You’re worried about getting the workers compensation you’re entitled to. Even small delays in your recovery or in communications with your employers’ insurance can seem to take ages. When that first offer for a settlement finally comes, you may want to jump at it. There are plenty of reasons to wait, though.
- Your personal health insurance will not cover work-related medical costs. Many people assume that workers compensation isn’t all that important. Your own health insurance will pick up the medical bills anyway, right? Wrong. This is a common confusion. In fact, all private health insurance policies contain a work-related injury exclusion. That means that no private health insurance policies will cover medical expenses for work-related injuries.
- Medicare adds complications. As with personal health insurance policies, you can’t assume that Medicare will pay for work-related medical expenses. In fact, if you are Medicare eligible, you have to take some of the settlement funds from your workers compensation case and put them in a “Medicare set-aside account.” You will pay for any treatment related to your workers compensation claim with those funds. Technically speaking, that “set-aside” account is only for treatment that Medicare would otherwise cover. The point is, Medicare will only cover treatment related to your workers’ comp case after that set-aside account runs out.
- Once you settle, you give up your right to any future claims. Settlements are settled, set in stone, over. Settlements are actually “Section 32 Waiver Agreements.” When you sign, you “waive” your right to ongoing or future benefits. If you’ve settled and your injury develops some complication, you can’t go back for more money. Injuries often do develop complications. Some heal quickly, but plenty of injuries common to workplaces take a long time to diagnose fully. Neck and back injuries, especially, might manifest complications further down the road. You should wait to settle until you’re absolutely sure of the extent of your injuries.
With all the risks, you shouldn’t agree to a settlement for a workplace injury without consulting your workers compensation lawyer first.