One of the most commonly asked questions which arises in a Workers' Compensation claim is how much a particular Workers' Compensation claim is worth if the injured worker enters into a settlement. The answer is that it depends on the specific facts surrounding each case. However most Workers' Compensation settlements are based upon a combination of the value of future medical care and future wage benefits which may be owed.
There is no specific Workers' Compensation settlement formula in Florida. Often times people will confuse Workers' Compensation settlements with settlements in other injury cases such as car accidents, slip and falls, or other personal injury claims. However, there are two (2) main differences with a Workers' Compensation settlement. The Workers' Compensation rules do not allow for an injured worker to recover pain and suffering damages, nor do the Workers' Compensation rules allow for an injured worker to recover lost wages or loss of future earning capacity. This is difficult for many people to accept because of the financial problems a work injury can cause. However, because Chapter 440 of the Florida Statutes does not say that any injured worker can recover these types of damages, they are never considered in the Workers' Compensation settlement formula, nor can a Workers' Compensation Judge award these types of benefits.
Most Workers' Compensation insurance companies are motivated to settle claims so that it can limit any financial exposure for payment of future wage benefits and/or future medical care they may have to pay. For instance, if an injured worker has been released from his treating physician, and the treating physician's opinion is that the injured worker will need additional surgery, additional physical therapy, additional pain management care, and/or a referral to a specialist such as a Neurologist or Chiropractor, an insurance company can avoid having to pay for these items by offering to settle with the injured worker. The cost of future medical care is never exact, but it can be estimated. Obviously, surgeries are the most expensive medical procedures that insurance companies will have to pay for in a Workers' Compensation case. Although there is no specific Workers' Compensation settlement formula, an estimate of the cost of future medical care can be made based upon your doctor's opinions, and the estimated cost can be included in a settlement demand.
In addition to any estimate of the cost for future medical care, you will also want to include the estimated amount of any wage benefits you may be entitled to through Workers' Compensation. If you are permanently totally disabled at the end of your medical care, there is a settlement formula through which you can compute the present value of your total wage benefits that would be paid by the Workers' Compensation insurance company base upon your life expectancy. If you are not permanently totally disabled, and you have only been paid 52 of your 104 weeks of temporary wage benefits under Florida Statute Chapter 440.15(2), you can argue that your future medical care will cause the insurance company to have to pay you the remaining wage benefits available, and include the value of those future wage benefits in a settlement demand.
An additional item to consider in the Workers' Compensation settlement formula is whether you need job retraining through the State of Florida. Florida Statute 440.491(6)(b) states that if an injured worker has reached maximum medical improvement and requires training and education to return to employment, a Workers' Compensation insurance company may be required to pay the injured worker an additional 26 weeks of wage benefits while the injured worker receives additional training and education.
No Workers' Compensation claim is identical to another one. Claims vary based upon the injured workers education, job skills, injury, wage earnings, and many other factors. Before considering a Workers' Compensation settlement, you should consult with an experienced Florida Workers' Compensation attorney to try and maximize your recovery. Without extensive knowledge of the benefits an injured worker is entitled to under Chapter 440, an injured worker may give up many valuable benefits in a Workers' Compensation settlement.
Florida's Workers' Compensation Attorney Joseph M. Maus specializes in Workers' Compensation claims. Mr. Maus is AV rated by Martindale Hubbel, indicating a pre-eminent knowledge of the Workers' Compensation laws as recognized by his peers and judges. For a free consultation, contact Joseph M. Maus today or call our law office at 866-556-5529.