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 Maine workers’ comp lawyer before you sign any agreements. (To learn how much that might cost you, see our article on attorneys’ fees in Maine 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.
Lump sum settlements are allowed in Maine. 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.
Structured settlements are also permitted in Maine. With a structured settlement, you will receive your funds in installments over time instead of a lump sum.
In Maine, settlements are not allowed until at least six months have passed from the date of injury. You will typically also need to reach maximum medical improvement first. This is when your doctor declares that your condition has improved as much as it’s going to. If you have a permanent disability, your doctor will assign you a permanent impairment rating at this time.
All workers’ comp settlements must be filed with the Maine Workers’ Compensation Board. The board will review your settlement within 14 days of receiving your settlement paperwork. The board will approve the settlement if:
Once your settlement is approved, it is final and 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 Maine 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.
If your claim is disputed and you’ve initiated the appeals process with the Maine Workers’ Compensation Board, you will continue on to a workers’ compensation hearing and a judge will ultimately decide your case. If your case is not disputed, you will continue to receive your weekly benefits from the insurance company until they are paid out.
Whether it makes sense to settle your claim, and for what amount, depends on many factors specific to your case. Because settlements are final once approved by the board, you should consult with a Maine workers’ comp lawyer beforehand. A lawyer can assess the value of your claim, negotiate a higher settlement, and structure the settlement in a way that protects your interests.