January 4, 2023
If you’ve been hurt at work the workers’ compensation system is designed to provide benefits that cover the cost of medical expenses and lost wages. Workers’ compensation payments, which are dispensed through your employer’s insurance company, are paid in the form of bi-weekly checks based on your average weekly wage and the degree of disability at which the doctor has you out of work. These are called temporary wage loss replacement (or “indemnity”) benefits. Bi-weekly indemnity benefits can also be paid for a specified period of time due to a permanent disability, typically involving spinal injuries, or as a schedule loss of use award, which is a non-settlement lump sum payment for permanent disability to a limb/extremity. Settlements are another potential way to pursue a lump sum payment of awards in your case.
Section 32 settlements are named after the section of the workers’ compensation law dealing with settlements and usually occur in cases with injuries to the spine. These are most typically considered as you near maximum medical improvement, the point where your doctors do not anticipate that you will either get better or worse from a medical standpoint. These involve careful and detailed evaluation of the future value of both your indemnity and medical benefits based on your specific injury, wages, degree of permanent impairment, and projected future medical treatment and cost. Section 32 settlements take place with the intention to completely close your case – either indemnity payments, medical coverage or, in most cases, both – and provide a lump sum payment in return. The value of your settlement is determined by negotiations between your attorney and the insurance company’s attorney or adjuster.
Settlements are optional for both parties as there always remains the option to litigate the outstanding issues and allow a Judge to determine their outcome. In general, the length of time it takes to finalize the settlement process varies, depending in large part on the responsiveness of the insurance company. Typically, however, it takes anywhere from four to nine months from start to finish to complete a settlement deal (from the beginning of negotiations until you have a check in your hand).
At Zea Proukou, our experienced and trusted workers’ compensation attorneys are happy to work with you to explain the process, share information about the workers’ compensation law, and help you move your case forward.
To learn more information please contact us. We have offices located in Rochester and Canandaigua, where we can be reached at 585-423-9444 or 315-853-9444, respectively. Or you can email us through the secure contact page on our website.