If you have been injured at work, and particularly if that injury was serious and disabling, chances are you qualify for and deserve workers’ compensation benefits. Taking timely action on asserting your rights to those benefits is of critical importance. Certainly, you should enlist the services of a qualified, knowledgeable, and experienced workers’ compensation attorney to investigate what potential benefits you may be entitled to and to fight for the rights and compensation that you deserve.
One particularly complicated question, when navigating the workers’ compensation maze from a legal perspective, is what settlement might best suit your needs after you have filed your claim and negotiated with the insurance company that is providing your benefits. When you initially file a claim, you might not be considering the ultimate details of your settlement. But it is important to weigh your options carefully from the very beginning.
Under New Jersey law, injured workers can opt for a Section 20 settlement or a Section 22 settlement. Different settlement options, understandably, have different benefits. And depending upon your unique circumstances, one might be a better choice than another for your needs. It is, therefore, helpful to take a look at the key components of both settlements in order to have an idea of how your claim might be a better fit with one option over the other.
Section 20 Settlements
A Section 20 settlement is essentially a lump sum, full and final payout settlement. The key components of a Section 20 settlement are listed below.
- A lump sum payment is paid, as opposed to a monthly or bi-monthly installments over a period of time.
- The employer, in entering into the settlement agreement, does not admit to liability in any way.
- The payment is not technically categorized as workers’ compensation – aside from with respect to insurance ratings.
- Both the employee and the employer must agree to the terms of the agreement and submit it for approval by a judge. If all parties do not agree on every term, the agreement is discarded.
- There must be a genuine issue of dispute between the parties. This essentially means that the insurance company either denied your claim or disputed some part of your claim.
Section 20 settlements are most often preferred from an employer’s perspective because they constitute a full and final settlement of the matter, allowing the employer to essentially be free of having to further address the injury after the settlement has been paid. From an employee perspective, however, a Section 20 settlement may – or may not – be the ideal settlement choice. Certainly, if the insurance company is vigorously disputing your claim, it may be a viable and logical option to take the Section 20 settlement being offered. If liability for your injury is accepted, however, you may want to consider the advantages of a Section 22 settlement as well.
Section 22 Settlements
A Section 22 settlement, as opposed to a Section 20 settlement, is an award that basically consists of a percentage of your total disability. In this sort of agreement, the following components would apply.
- You, the injured worker, agree with your insurance company as to a specific payment based upon a percentage of your total disability. In a workers’ compensation claim, you are assigned a disability rating by your physician. The insurance company then agrees to pay your permanent disability benefits in installments, based on the New Jersey schedule of benefits.
- When you agree to Section 22 settlement, you do not give up your right to future medical care should you ultimately need it.
- Furthermore, under a Section 22 settlement, if your condition worsens in the future, you retain the right to reopen your workers’ compensation claim to seek additional disability benefits, provided that you do so within two years from the last payment under the claim.
While many employers generally will prefer entering into a Section 20 settlement due to the fact that it creates finality in the claim, if you are an injured worker who anticipates needing a good deal of future medical care or one who would prefer the option to reopen your claim when necessary, a Section 22 settlement might be a good option for your needs.
Call Petro Cohen Today
Without question, the complicated legal maze of workers’ compensation can be difficult to navigate alone. From beginning the process of filing for benefits through the final resolution, the team at Petro Cohen has the knowledge and experience that you need on your side.
The outcome of your case will largely depend on the skill of your New Jersey work injury attorney and the quality of your legal representation. Your attorney’s level of education, experience, track record, legal abilities, and reputation matter – big time.
At Petro Cohen Petro Matarazzo, our team of workers’ comp lawyers has more than 100 years of combined experience that we would be honored to put to work on your behalf. Our firm has been consistently recognized as one of New Jersey’s leading firms in the area of workers’ comp. The firm received the highest rating by Martindale-Hubbell – the world’s foremost authority on law firm credentials – in Professional Excellence and Ethical Standards and Legal Ability.
In addition to the firm’s stellar reputation, the department head, Frank Petro, is respected locally, regionally, and nationally as a leading attorney in this specialized field. He has been recognized as an outstanding attorney by Best Lawyers® every year since 1995 and by Super Lawyers® every year since 2005. Moreover, he has achieved a rating of “Superb” on the leading lawyer-review website, Avvo®, the highest achievable rating.
Along with Stephen M. Matarazzo, Suzanne Holz Meola, Terri Hiles, Steven Lubcher, and Daniel Rosenthal, our New Jersey workers’ comp attorneys have successfully handled thousands of litigated workers’ comp cases throughout New Jersey. We have four office locations in southern New Jersey, including Northfield, Cherry Hill, Hamilton (Trenton), and Cape May Court House, and can meet with you at your convenience, even after hours and weekends.
If you are injured at work, don’t leave money on the table. Select Excellence™. Call us today at 888-675-7607 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.