As with many legal questions, it depends. Whether it’s a good idea to agree to a New Jersey workers’ compensation claim settlement depends on many factors. It depends on the facts of the case, the type of injury you suffered, the amount of disability, and whether the disability is permanent. If everything is right, there are benefits of a workers’ comp settlement. But the most important thing to do is discuss your case with an experienced New Jersey Workers’ comp lawyer.
You should never attempt to settle your claim yourself because you probably don’t know how workers’ comp settlements are negotiated. You also probably don’t know the actual value of your claim and what the possibilities are. But a skilled workers’ comp lawyer will be able to guide you through this to get the best result.
What Is a Workers’ Compensation Settlement?
If you have an existing work injury claim and are receiving benefits, either wage benefits or medical benefits, then there’s a possibility that you can settle your case. Also, if you have a particular occupational injury, you can settle the case for a lump sum amount. There are two types of workers’ compensation settlements, one under Section 20 and the other under Section 22 of the New Jersey workers’ comp law. When deciding which kind of settlement to consider, you have to review three things:
- Whether the claim is denied or disputed,
- What rights a worker must give up in the agreement, and
- How the payments are made.
Section 20 Workers’ Comp Settlements
Section 20 settlements (Order Approving Settlement with Dismissal) are available only in cases where the insurance company denies a workers’ comp claim or where there is a disagreement about an issue within the claim. A Section 20 settlement is final. You will not be able to go back and open it up again if there is a change in circumstances. So, if you agree to end your fight for compensation in exchange for a lump sum amount of money, make sure that you have thoroughly discussed it with your lawyer and understand the consequences. For Section 20 settlements, you must also attend a hearing, where a workers’ comp judge will make sure that you know how much money you’ll receive and that you understand that you are giving up your future rights as part of the settlement.
Section 22 Workers’ Comp Settlements
Section 22 settlements (Order Approving Settlement) can be used in any other type of workers’ comp claim no matter its status. This is not a full and final settlement of your workers’ comp claim. If you sign a Section 22 agreement, you can seek future medical care and reopen your claim. However, there’s a two-year time frame to open your claim back up, beginning on the day of your last payment. This type of settlement is not done in a lump sum amount, but consists of scheduled payments based on a permanent disability rating agreed to by both parties according to the current disability benefit rate. Each settlement has to be approved by the Division of Workers’ Compensation, which determines if it is in the best interest of the injured employee.
How is the Settlement Amount Determined?
First, this is something that your experienced and skilled New Jersey workers’ comp lawyer should discuss with you in great detail. You should understand how whatever amount of money you agree to was calculated. Many factors go into your New Jersey workers’ compensation claim settlement. You want to understand all the issues in your workers’ comp settlement before agreeing to anything. Obviously, more serious injuries will settle for a larger amount than less serious injuries. Other factors that you will go over with your attorney include:
- The need for ongoing and future medical treatment;
- If the claim is disputed, which side has the better evidence and chance of winning;
- Any disputes as to the future necessary medical treatment; and
- Amount of pre-injury wages.
Every case is going to be different. So, if you have heard from a relative or co-worker about the amount of money they received in a workers’ comp settlement, don’t go by what they got. Their case may have different factors that made their settlement either higher or lower than yours should be. But you should rely on the knowledge that your experienced NJ workers’ comp lawyer has gained over several decades of representing injured New Jersey workers. Your attorney knows the value of claims such as yours and can negotiate on your behalf so that you can get the full and fair settlement you deserve.
Call the Experienced Workers’ Comp Attorneys at Petro Cohen
Petro Cohen, P.C. has assisted injured workers in South Jersey for decades. The firm’s Workers’ Compensation Department has more than 100 years of combined experience, among Department Head and Senior Partner Frank Petro, Partners Suzanne Holz Meola, and Terri Hiles, and attorneys Daniel Rosenthal and Sam Scimeca. Working together with you, they will ensure you receive the medical treatment you need and the compensation you deserve. Petro Cohen, P.C. has offices to serve you in Northfield, Cape May, Cherry Hill, and Hamilton, NJ. To determine if you may have a potential workers’ comp and/or personal injury case, schedule your free and confidential consultation with a Petro Cohen, P.C. attorney. Contact us today.