After suffering an injury at work, you might be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Typically, if you are hurt while working, your medical expenses and lost income should be covered without having to prove another party was at fault. Under Arkansas’ workers’ compensation laws, employees are financially protected when their injuries are severe enough to require medical treatment and result in lost time at work.
In some cases, a workers’ compensation insurance company could offer a lump sum payment or annuity to settle a case. You are allowed to agree to such a settlement. However, before doing so, there are many factors to consider. You should not accept any settlement without speaking with our experienced Arkansas workers’ compensation lawyers.
For over thirty years, our attorneys have been protecting the rights of injured workers throughout Arkansas. While a lump-sum payment or annuity might look attractive, you should call (479) 316-0438 to schedule an appointment to review your options and rights.
Structured Settlement Annuities in Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Cases
You are free to accept an annuity or lump sum payment settlement from a workers’ compensation insurance company. However, it is critical to understand precisely what you are receiving and what you are agreeing to. Once you have accepted a settlement offer, you will be prohibited from claiming additional medical expenses or lost wages based on your injury – no matter what complications you might suffer. If your injury requires long-term medical care, accepting a settlement offer might not be in your best interests.
Under a structured settlement annuity, you would be guaranteed a steady income over a specified period of time. This income stream allows injured workers to pay for their ongoing medical care or supplement lost income if their earning capacity has been diminished. Unlike a lump sum payment, an annuity removes the temptation of using a windfall for other financial needs or luxury goods.
However, annuity funds are generally inaccessible outside of the payment schedule. If your circumstances dramatically change or if your injury results in unforeseen expenses, you will not be able to access the remaining funds in the annuity.
What is Covered Under an Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Settlement Annuity?
A structured settlement offered by a worker’s compensation insurance provider should include compensation for any medical expenses you have incurred to date. Additionally, it could also include a portion of your lost income due to the injury. Furthermore, the settlement could include an amount for your future medical treatment depending on your injury and prognosis.
When an injured worker sees the total amount available through the annuity, it often surpasses their initial expectations. However, in many cases, the settlement offer is lower than what an injured worker is entitled to receive under Arkansas law. If you do not know the full extent of your injury or what you could be entitled to if you experience unforeseen complications, accepting an annuity could put you into a precarious financial situation in the future. With the help of our experienced Arkansas workers’ compensation lawyers, you will be better able to understand your available benefits.
A workers’ compensation insurance company is usually attempting to limit its liability and the benefits it is required to pay. When you accept a structure settlement annuity, you will have to sign documents waiving your right to seek any additional claims or benefits. For instance, if you require additional surgery, the workers’ compensation insurance company is no longer liable for any medical expenses. Because it is often difficult to determine how your injury will progress or anticipate every potential adverse complication, accepting an annuity could force you to pay out-of-pocket for necessary care.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Annuity Settlements in Arkansas
Structured settlement annuities are not without some advantages. Through an annuity, you will have control over the funds and the treatment you receive. There is no requirement to prove that your injury was work-related to use the annuity proceeds. Additionally, if you received medical care through workers’ compensation benefits, the insurance company would have to approve your doctor and any necessary treatments.
However, the most significant disadvantage remains the possibility that the settlement amount is insufficient to cover your medical treatment if you require care that was not anticipated. Once the money runs out, you will not be able to appeal to the insurance company for additional funds.
In some situations, an insurance company could require that you resign from your job as a condition for the settlement. This is especially the case when there is a chance you could suffer a similar injury. For instance, if you hurt your back, it is likely that if you returned to work, another injury could occur. The insurance company is protecting itself from another claim based on a new injury. You should speak with our Arkansas workers’ compensation attorneys before agreeing to any settlement offer.
In Arkansas, You Do Not Have to Accept an Annuity Settlement
When offering you a lump sum settlement or a structured annuity, an insurance adjuster will make it appear that they are doing you a service. It also might seem that you have to accept the annuity when it is offered. In some cases, an adjuster will use details from your file to hint that you are not eligible for other benefits and the annuity is your best option.
However, this is not accurate. While a settlement might be an immediate windfall, it might not be enough if your injury requires additional and unexpected treatment. There are also situations where an injured worker has a right to pursue a personal injury claim against a third party. Before accepting any settlement offer from a workers’ compensation insurance provider, it is critical to consult with our experienced Fayetteville attorneys.
Our Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Are Available to Evaluate Your Annuity Settlement
While you have every right to accept a structured annuity or lump sum settlement from a workers’ compensation insurance company, you should thoroughly consider all options before signing on the dotted line. Our Springdale workers’ compensation attorneys have helped many injured workers maximize their benefit payments, whether it was through a settlement, traditional workers’ compensation benefits, or suing a third party. Call our law offices at (479) 316-0438 if you were hurt at work.