Fayetteville, AR workers’ compensation lawyer Ken Kieklak has handled thousands of workplace injury and other personal injury lawsuits. One of the most common questions clients have revolves around what their case will be worth or what the average settlement is for their case. In many cases, there are no good statistics about what the average settlement is, and looking at information from other cases can be misleading because the facts could be so drastically different. However, our Fayetteville AR personal injury lawyer can help you understand how these settlements and damages are calculated so you know what your case might be worth.
Determining Your Work Injury Settlement in Arkansas
The term “settlement” is often used as a generic term to describe any damages you receive from an injury case. In truth, “settlement” technically refers to the money you win by “settling” your case through discussions with the opposing party. Most workplace injury cases in Arkansas are resolved through Arkansas’ Workers’ Compensation system, which awards damages differently than a lawsuit settlement but still allows victims to settle their claims for potentially increased damages.
Workers’ compensation typically pays damages on an ongoing basis. These damages come in the form of medical benefits for workers’ compensation and wage loss benefits.
The medical benefits paid through workers’ comp. can cover any medical expenses your treating physician recommends as related to your workplace injury or work-related condition. These are usually covered on an ongoing basis rather than in one lump-sum because your healthcare needs can change as your recovery progresses.
Wage loss benefits often cover around 2/3 of your average weekly wages. These are subject to absolute minimums and maximums under Arkansas law, based on the typical wages of other workers. These benefits may also be modified depending on your injury. For instance, a more severe injury allows you to recover wage loss damages for a longer period since it is expected you will be out of work for a longer period.
Permanent injuries and partial permanent injuries also result in damages for a longer period, but benefits for permanent partial injuries may be reduced by the percentage of function you retained after the injury. For instance, retaining 50% function in your hand after suffering a serious hand injury at work would mean receiving 50% of the benefits for total loss of or loss of function in a hand.
In many workers’ comp. cases, you can settle your case instead of receiving these Workers’ Compensation benefits on an ongoing basis. To project the total cost of your benefits, you should speak with an attorney and medical experts about how much your medical care is expected to cost, and how long you would receive wages for. Your employer may offer to pay this total amount in one lump-sum settlement rather than waiting and paying you piecemeal over time for ongoing medical care and week-by-week lost wages.
Should I Accept a Lump-Sum Settlement for Workers’ Compensation?
When you suffer a workplace injury, you may be tempted to accept your Workers’ Compensation benefits in one lump-sum settlement. In some cases, this is a fantastic solution that allows you full control of your benefits and helps you get the coverage you need immediately. However, some injuries may benefit more from ongoing payments. You should always talk to an attorney before settling any injury claim to ensure you receive the full benefits or damages you could be entitled to.
In many work injury cases, lost wages are simple enough to calculate accurately. Many injuries dictate how long you will receive benefits for, and you can multiply your wages by the number of weeks to find out how much the settlement should cover in wage loss benefits. However, medical expenses can be trickier.
Some medical costs are clear. For instance, the cost of 6 months of physical therapy can be simple enough to calculate, and you already know the cost of any treatment you already underwent. That makes it easy to calculate the total medical benefits needed for your case. However, some illnesses and injuries are harder to predict, and your condition could worsen, requiring additional healthcare costs. If your medical costs are difficult to predict, such as in cases of work-related cancer, heart disease, and other ongoing illnesses, accepting a settlement may not help your case.
Another factor to consider is the eligibility for other assistance programs. If you plan on applying for Social Security Disability benefits alongside your workers’ comp. benefits, disability payments could be reduced based on your ongoing workers’ comp. benefits. However, structuring your settlement differently may allow you to receive full benefits from your employer’s workers’ comp. benefits and disability. Talk to a Fayetteville, AR disability lawyer for help structuring your workers’ comp. settlement to maximize disability benefits.
Our Lawyer Offers Free Consultations on Worker Injury Cases
If you or a loved one was hurt in a workplace injury and needs compensation for medical expenses and lost wages, contact Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, today. Ken is a Fayetteville workers’ comp. lawyer and personal injury attorney in Arkansas offering free consultations on workplace injury cases. For help understanding what your case is worth and how to maximize your compensation, contact our law offices online or call us today at (479) 316-0438.
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