While there are many benefits to settling your workers’ compensation case, you will also likely be giving up significant rights. Because settlements are typically final, it’s wise to consult with a Kansas workers’ comp lawyer before you sign any agreements. (To learn how much that might cost you, see our article on attorneys’ fees in Kansas workers’ comp cases.)
A workers’ comp settlement is a way to resolve a workers’ comp claim. In exchange for a sum of money, you agree to give up some or all of your rights in your workers’ compensation case.
In cases involving permanent disability, lump sum settlements are allowed in Kansas. The insurance company will give you a one-time payment in order to close out your workers’ compensation case. Lump sum settlements are often “full and final,” meaning that you give up your right to all benefits for your injury, including future medical treatment. However, in some cases—for example if you have severe injuries that will require long-term care—the insurance company might agree to leave your right to future medical care open.
Some settlements call for the funds to be paid in installments over time, instead of a lump sum. These are called structured settlements.
There’s no specific deadline for settling your workers’ comp case. However, most workers wait to settle until they reach maximum medical improvement. This is when your doctor declares that your condition has improved as much as it’s going to with treatment. If you have a permanent disability, your doctor will assign you a permanent disability rating at this time. Before this point, it will be difficult to know how severe your injury is and how it will impact your ability to work.
All workers’ comp settlements must be approved by an administrative law judge. The judge will hold a settlement hearing to ask you questions and make sure you understand the terms of the agreement. The judge will approve the settlement if it’s in your best interests or if it would avoid undue expense, litigation, or hardship for either party. Once your settlement is approved, it is final and generally can’t be undone—except in rare situations, such as where the insurance company has committed fraud.
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 Kansas 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.