In 2017, the Montana Department of Labor and Industry revealed that for every 100 workers, at least 5 of them filed a Workers Compensation Claim. However, 30% of these claims are denied. It goes to show just how difficult it is to have your application approved by the labor commissioners.
The basic tenet of a workers compensation claim is grounded on the protection and just indemnification of an employee who has acquired an injury or illness because of his work. So, if you think you are entitled to such benefit, then it is best that you must know the nuances of getting this claim and how you could obtain a fair amount.
How Workers Compensation Work
When an injury is sustained during work hours, there is a presumption that it was acquired by virtue of the employment, and the injured employee is then entitled to certain benefits. An exception for this is when the employer can sufficiently prove that the injury is not related to any work-related matters.
Whether or not there is a claim for compensation, such an issue is usually resolved by choosing between two options: going into a trial or negotiation through a settlement proceeding. Litigating your case can be expensive, and besides, a final judgment may be obtained only after a more extended period than necessary. For this reason, many employees choose to negotiate their claims.
How Settlement Proceedings Go
Undergoing negotiations are said to be the most effective process in getting a fair amount out of the compensation claim. Generally, there are two ways to negotiate a settlement for a compensation claim, an informal and formal proceeding.
As its name suggests, an informal procedure is a situation wherein only the parties involved (employee and employer or insurer) come into an agreement. There is no ‘proper’ way to go about this proceeding since they are up to parties’ preferences in which it can even be done over the phone.
On the other hand, formal procedures are more stringent. Aside from the involved participants, a neutral third party, called the mediator, is also included whose goal is to help find a resolution to any dispute surrounding a compensation controversy. While formal proceedings can be quite time-consuming, it remains to be the most preferred method of dispute resolution because it takes into consideration the desires of each side.
Despite the absolute agreement of both parties, the settlement award is still subject to the approval of the Montana Department of Workers Compensation. Such rule is in line with the government’s interest in protecting workers by determining whether the award is equitable and does not unduly favor one over the other. The judge must also see to it that there was no undue force or intimidation projected by a party for them to come into an agreement.
How Much Money Should I Expect?
Many factors come into play in a claim for workers compensation. Some of these include the extent of the injury, effect on the capacity to work, as well as incurred expenses in treating the condition. There is no definite expectation on how much money one could get when awarded the benefit, which means that it is entirely up to the employee’s assertion that he is entitled to it, subject to proving such case.
How to Get a Good Deal?
Like other negotiations, a workers compensation deal must also be evaluated carefully to prevent any injustice and financial burden. For this reason, it is a common practice that the injured employee should reject initial offers made by the company because of the possibility that the insurer owes them more than their offer.
To get a great deal out of the settlement, you must have an actual estimate of the amount that you want, which must consist of at least the following:
Past Expenses Should Be Covered
To determine the minimum amount of how much you should be repaid, there must be evidence to prove past expenses that are incurred because of the injury. This can come in the form of physician examination fees, medical prescriptions, and other hospital bills.
Your settlement award must never be any lower than how much money you have already shelled out. It is these expenses that are primarily sought to be reimbursed by the employer.
Future Expenses Should Be Secured
Aside from costs that are already made, you should also be able to get a value as to how much fees are waiting. Although future expenses are just mere presumptions, it can still be duly proven upon a doctor’s result showing that the injury will affect the future of the employee, such as his ability to earn money.
Future expenses must also be taken into account to avoid the possibility of getting buried with mountains of debt. These kinds of liability include maintenance medicines as well as regular check-up fees.
All Other Deductions
Not only should a person be keen into the details of the amount of indemnification, but an injured employee should also know how much will be deducted out of the settled amount. Medicare, unpaid child support, attorney’s fee, and taxes, are only some of the amount that will make your take-home award lesser.
That is why it is vital to take note of these things so that you would not be disappointed when you get a lesser value than you expected. For any legal case, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Knowing How Fair the Amount Is
An injured employee should not only adhere to the factors previously mentioned. Other factors directly affect how much a worker is entitled. Ultimately, what determines if the award is fair is if it indemnifies those expenses that have already been made and if the amount will cover a reasonable period for daily sustenance of the workers family.
Determining the amount to be repaid only compromises one of the things that must be agreed upon by the parties. The parties must undertake the manner of how the settled amount should be paid.
If you want to acquire your money on the get-go, then the lump sum method is the best choice for you. This settlement involves the agreement by the employee to prohibit itself from further disputing the claim on account that it will receive the agreed money on its whole. The insurance company or the employer will then be exonerated from any claim of liability and other responsibilities.
Structured Payment plan
On the other hand, the most popular option that injured workers go for is the structured payment plan. If you think you have a long-term injury, then this option is the best choice.
This payment plan is done by dispensing the settled amount on a weekly or monthly basis. This option is undoubtedly the most popular because it helps assure the worker of financial security even when he has an injury.
A Review of the Essential Points of a Fair Settlement
In sum, many factors must be taken into account to determine whether the compensation agreed upon is fair to all parties. The agreed amount must indemnify all past expenses as cover future costs. The agreement must also establish a payment plan that the employee prefers.
To make sure that you will get the best value out of your claim, you must thoroughly run over the contracts, and any disagreements must be resolved amicably. Also, before you sign the agreement contract, make sure that the following questions are addressed:
• Is the amount sufficient enough to cover my daily needs for weeks?
• Is the agreed settlement proportionate to compensate for the suffering I have undergone because of the injury or illness?
If you are duly satisfied and convinced that the settlement will provide an affirmative answer to these questions, then, by all means, you can end the proceeding by agreeing to it.
Get a Trusted Workers Compensation Lawyer
As can be gleaned throughout the discussion, settling a workers compensation claim is not easy. Many things must be considered in order to get a fair value out of the employers. For this reason, one must use the services of someone who knows the law by heart.
In the state of Montana, the Glacier Law Firm is one of the leading experts in handling workers compensation cases. Thousands of families have acquired a fair amount in their settlements, which were done with the help of the firm. With years of experience under their belt, it is safe to say that the firm knows the law well enough to help you get what you are entitled to from the law.
So, if you or a loved one is stuck in a workers compensation settlement proceeding, you can contact the firm anytime. In addition, they also provide free case evaluation so that you will know how strong your case is legally. Contact Glacier Law Firm today by calling (406) 298-6725 or by visiting the office at 20 Four Mile Drive, Ste #4, Kalispell, Montana.