Lump Sum Settlements
Illinois law sets forth a remedy for workers who are hurt in a job-related accident or suffering from a job-related illness. Under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, injured employees have the legal right to pursue benefits through their employer. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca, our Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers can help workers negotiate settlements with their employers that reflect their potential continuing medical needs and protect their rights. In certain situations, but not all, a lump sum settlement may be in an injured worker’s best interest. Throughout the process of pursuing a workers’ compensation claim, we make sure that our clients understand the full extent of their options.Understand the Option of a Lump Sum Settlement After a Workplace Accident
After suffering a job-related injury, employees are entitled to recover benefits that ease the financial strain of medical costs and all reasonably necessary treatment. By filing a workers’ compensation claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, employees are protecting their legal right to a system of benefits, regardless of who was at fault for the work-related accident. Benefits may include medical care, temporary total disability benefits, and permanent partial disability benefits, as well as permanent total disability benefits. Surviving family members of workers who die in a tragically fatal accident may be entitled to death benefits.
Many cases that are filed at the Commission end up being resolved through compromises. These settlement contracts are agreements in which employees and employers close a claim in exchange for money. Settling a case often allows an employee to recover compensation more quickly than they would by contesting a hearing.
Lump sum settlements pay injured workers in a single payment. According to the Workers’ Compensation Act, other rights may cease if a worker accepts a settlement. For this reason, the details of a settlement contract must be read carefully, since the employee may not have rights to any future medical benefits or cash payments after approving the settlement.
However, a potential positive consequence of accepting a lump sum payment is that an injured worker may recover costs for reasonably necessary medical services that might become less necessary over time. For example, an injured worker may recover costs for a required surgery in their settlement agreement, if medical evidence indicates that this surgery is reasonably necessary to alleviate their condition. In the future, if their injuries heal without the surgery, the worker will have recovered the surgery costs without needing to spend the money.
On the other hand, a possible downside of accepting a lump sum settlement is that an injured worker typically waives their right to future medical benefits, even if their condition worsens. In some situations that are exceptions to this pattern, the settlement contract may specifically state that the parties provide for a renewed right to benefits if the worker’s condition changes.
It is important to abide by any deadlines that control making changes to a settlement. The Commission maintains strict time periods for filing petitions that seek changes after a lump sum settlement has been issued.
The main alternative to a lump sum settlement is receiving weekly benefits, often in the form of permanent disability payments. Injured individuals who find it challenging to manage their money may feel reassured by receiving these ongoing payments, which also may help ease the financial burden of lowered wages in the future.
After the Commissioner approves a settlement, an employee has a period of time in which they may request additional medical services. These services must be reasonably necessary to help cure or relieve any symptoms associated with the work injury or disease. In some situations, the employer may not agree to the request for medical services, and the employee may file a petition asking that the Commission help resolve the dispute.Contact a Skilled Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in the Chicago Area
A knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer can help make sure that injured employees’ rights are protected as they consider whether to accept a settlement for their work-related injuries. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca, our Chicago workers' compensation attorneys have experience helping injured employees throughout Illinois. Call us at (800) 444-1525 or contact us online to set up a free appointment. We also represent people who need a job injury attorney in Springfield, Aurora, Rockford, Champaign, Quincy, and other communities throughout Winnebago, Cook, Sangamon, Kane, and Adams Counties.