Should you take a NC Workers’ Comp Settlement?

One of the most critical decisions an injured NC worker will make is whether to accept a NC Workers’ Comp Settlement.  Often an insurance adjuster or even an attorney working for an employer will contact an injured worker to discuss settlement.  If you have not already consulted a Board Certified Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in North Carolina this is a good time to do so.  NC Workers' Compensation Settlement

Many workers’ compensation claims in North Carolina will eventually settle by “clincher” agreement. A “clincher” is a full and final NC workers’ compensation settlement.  A clincher agreement is a full a final settlement and resolves all the issues in a NC workers’ compensation case, including all medical treatment and wage replacement benefits. A clincher or settlement agreement ends all compensation and is intended to entirely resolve the claim.

There is no requirement in North Carolina that a workers’ compensation case settle and in fact some cases should not settle.  A badly injured worker with an accepted workers’ comp claim who is permanently disabled and will require continuing medical treatment will usually be better off letting the employer/insurer pay lifetime wage replacement and medical benefits.  This employee should focus on coordinating their workers’ compensation with other public and private benefits.

The decision of whether to accept a NC Workers’ Comp Clincher Settlement requires an analysis of the value of the benefits the injured worker is giving up.  For this reason, great care must be taken in settling a workers’ compensation claim in North Carolina before all critical medical treatment is completed and the employee has reached the end of the healing period, called Maximum Medical Improvement “MMI,” . Prior to MMI it is impossible to accurately evaluate future medical needs and to identify any permanent physical limitations.  In accepted cases it is usually better to wait until the injured worker has reached Maximum Medical Improvement before beginning settlement discussions.

In order to determine the value of a NC workers’ compensation clincher settlement the worker must first determine the medical treatment the worker is likely to need in the future and the cost of that treatment.  This includes future medical appointments, medications, physical therapy and revisions to any medical hardware such as a revised knee replacement.

The injured worker must also factor in the remaining wage replacement disability benefits, including total disability and partial disability payments.  This evaluation should include any assigned disability rating as well as the likelihood of continuing total disability or partial disability payments over the life of the claim.  If the employee is expected to receive a stream of future disability benefits then those future payments should be reduced to their current value for settlement purposes.

Another important consideration is coordinating workers’ compensation benefits with other available benefits.  Other benefits include Social Security disability, Medicare, Medicaid, private long or short term disability policies, and Social Security retirement. Settling a workers’ compensation case without regard to how it may affect these other benefits can be a serious mistake.  In particular Medicare takes a dim view of a workers’ compensation claimant settling their case and then coming to Medicare to pay for medical treatment related to the injury.  In fact, the law requires that injured workers consider Medicare’s interest in settling their workers’ compensation claim.

Social Security disability payments may be dramatically affected if the settlement documents do not properly “offset” settlement proceeds. There are several methods for calculating these Social Security offsets and the injured worker is entitled to pick the one that works best for them. If the worker fails to do this Social Security will determine how the funds are treated, often to the detriment of the worker.

Finally, it is important not to confuse the payment of a percentage disability rating with a settlement.  The payment of a rating does not cut off medical benefits.  (But note that medical benefits may end two years from the last payment of any compensation.)  In addition, if a compensable injury worsens after a rating is paid the employee can request additional wage replacement compensation by making a change in condition claim within two years of receipt of the ratings payment.  The payment of a rating is not a settlement, but does mark the beginning of an important two year deadline for additional benefits.

Whether to accept a settlement in a North Carolina workers’ comp case is a complicated question. There is no settlement calculator for a NC workers’ comp case.

If you have questions about whether you should accept a NC Workers’ Comp Settlement, please call or click for your free consultation with Board Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist Kevin Bunn.

Kurt Kettering
Kurt Kettering
15:06 25 Jul 17
I really appreciate the personal touch Mr. Bunn gave to all aspects of the case. I am very satisfied with the way the case was handled and the outcome received. I would highly recommend Kevin Bunn to anyone in need of help with their workers compensation claim.
Jake St. Peter
Jake St. Peter
18:07 19 Jul 17
I've used Kevin in the past and was extremely pleased with the results. Highly recommended and trustworthy attorney.
André L. Farmer
André L. Farmer
17:10 27 Jun 17
I would highly recommend Kevin Bunn. He was very professional and responded promptly to all questions. I am very satisfied with his services and his staff.
Daniel Chido
Daniel Chido
07:23 21 Mar 17
Kevin Bunn is a great lawyer and a great man. I consider myself very lucky and blessed to have had him representing and working for me over the past few years. I found him by word of mouth while I was looking for a lawyer to handle my worker's compensation claim and my application for social security disability. He was one of the only lawyers I found in the area who would handle both of these. I knew from the first time I met him in person that he was the right choice. Kevin is a straightforward, honest, rational, down to earth and very kind person who went above and beyond to help me and to bring forth favorable results on all fronts for my situation. He always explained things well, we were always on the same page before making any moves, and I truly felt like he put me as a person first and foremost, before lawyer fees or anything else like that. I honestly only have positive things to say about Kevin and my experience working with him. Also, his paralegal JoAnne is awesome, and it always cheered me up to hear her voice on the phone. I highly recommend Kevin Bunn to anyone who is searching for top notch representation for their worker's compensation claim or social security disability application. Thank you, Kevin and JoAnne!
Terri Perry
Terri Perry
21:20 25 Jan 17
Mr. Bunn was straightforward and a highly respected good attorney. I recommend anybody looking for a workers' comp lawyer in NC contact Mr. Bunn. He can represent me any time.
Paul Kemper
Paul Kemper
00:37 31 Oct 16
I have used Kevin, twice for work related cases. Kevin, was open and honest with me and my wife. I highly recommend Kevin Bunn, for any injury claim case. If I ever need anything attorney for an injury I will use him again. His secretary Joanne Latta, was always helpful and friendly to us. Thank you Kevin Bunn for your expertise and help. Paul Kemper
shane cargain
shane cargain
19:00 17 Jun 16
One of the best experiences I've had with a lawyer! He gets the money that you deserve and doesn't quit until you are satisfied with the outcome! He knows his stuff when it comes to the law and I HIGHLY recommend him to anyone for workers compensation cases or anything else that involves the law! You can't go wrong with him by your side when you need a good lawyer to battle for you!
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Top Ten Tips and Traps for North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Claims

After twenty years of practicing workers’ compensation law in North Carolina I have seen just about every mistake an injured worker can make.  These mistakes range from failing to file their claim, to settling when they should not have, and everything in between. Download my Top Ten Tips and Traps for North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Claims

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