While there are many benefits to settling your workers’ compensation case, you will also likely be giving up significant rights. Below, we explain the settlement process in New Hampshire. However, because settlements are typically final, you should consult with a New Hampshire workers’ comp lawyer before you sign any agreements. (To learn how much that might cost you, see our article on attorneys’ fees in New Hampshire workers’ comp cases.)
A settlement is a voluntary agreement between you and the insurance company to resolve your workers’ compensation case. In exchange for an agreed-upon sum of money, you give up some or all of your rights in your workers’ compensation case.
Lump sum settlements are common in disputed New Hampshire workers’ comp cases. A lump sum settlement is where the insurance company makes a one-time payment to close out your workers’ comp case. This often requires you to give up your rights to all future benefits, except for medical coverage. In other words, the lump sum is all the money you will ever get for your injury. However, your medical treatment will continue to be covered after a lump sum settlement.
In some cases, the insurance company may agree to an alternative arrangement. For example, the insurance company might agree to make periodic payments instead of a lump sum or leave your right to vocational rehabilitation open.
Lump sum settlements are allowed once you have been disabled by your injury for at least 12 months, or sooner, if it’s found to be in the best interest of all the parties.
If you have a disputed claim, you will continue with the workers’ comp appeal process and a judge will ultimately decide your case. If your claim is accepted and there is no dispute, you will continue to receive benefits until they are paid out. You will also continue to be eligible for medical care, and you can ask for additional benefits if your condition worsens.
The New Hampshire Department of Labor must approve all workers’ compensation settlements. Once you’ve reached an agreement with the insurance company, its lawyer (or yours, if you have one) will prepare the settlement paperwork.
A hearing officer will meet with the parties to review the terms of the settlement agreement and make sure it’s in the best interest of the parties. This hearing may take place in person or over the phone. The hearing officer will make sure you understand the terms of the agreement and that it’s fair before signing off.
The amount of the settlement varies widely based on the severity of your injury, your ability to work, and your pre-injury wages. Conflicting evidence in your case—for example, as to whether your injury is work-related or whether you are permanently disabled—will also impact your claim’s settlement value.
To get a general idea of how much you might be entitled to, see our article on New Hampshire workers’ comp benefits. However, a claim’s settlement value depends on many factors, which can only be evaluated by a workers’ comp lawyer familiar with your case.