The average worker's compensation settlement is only about $22,000, but about a third of all injured workers can get up to $100,000 when settling their case, and a small percentage can go way up from there.
But what makes the difference between a small settlement and a large settlement? Is there anything you can do to get the biggest settlement possible? And could you be losing thousands of dollars on your worker's compensation claim?
We're going to answer all those questions right now.
My name is Rex Zachofsky and I became a New York workers compensation lawyer 17 years ago after getting injured on the job. If you’re looking for a lawyer to help you with your claim with New York Workers Compensation Benefits, please give me a call at 212-406-8989 to schedule a free consultation.
We’re also able to assist with Personal Injury Matters, Social Security Disability, and Labor & Employment Issues.
How much you earn plays a big role in the size of your settlement offer because it's used to calculate the value of things like lost wages, future earning capacity, disability benefits and job training.
Here in New York State, your income is calculated by dividing your gross salary for the one year leading up to your accident by 52 weeks.
This gives you your average weekly wage which is what we use to help determine the value of your case.
Note that this is your gross salary and not your take home pay, which means your calculation should include things such as:
Please be very careful making this calculation and always ask to see how the insurance company calculated yours, because if they're off by even just a little bit, it can result in your settlement being undervalued by thousands of dollars.
Permanent disability benefits typically make up the bulk of a worker's compensation settlement, so your disability rating plays a big role in the size of your offer.
If your work injury leaves you with a permanent disability, your doctor will perform a physical examination to give you a rating for your disabled body parts.
For instance, you might get a 30% disability of your right arm or a 50% disability rating for your right foot.
This rating will then determine the permanent disability benefits you're entitled to for loss of use of that particular injury.
Here in New York State, other injuries to the head, neck and back and systemic injuries are rated differently.
Regardless, if you go to a doctor and they give you a low disability rating, that means you're also going to get a lower settlement.
This is one of the reasons why it's crucial that you go to a doctor that's familiar with your state's worker's compensation system.
The insurance company might also have you examined by their doctor so that they can obtain their own opinion as to your permanent disability.
Once there have been some medical opinions on your level of disability, the insurance company will often present you with a starting offer, which will likely be very low.
This is where it becomes crucial for you to negotiate, which I'm going to discuss in just a moment.
Surprisingly, the state you're located in has a significant effect on how big your settlement offer can be.
As we discussed in my other video about calculating the value of your claim, there's oftentimes a cap on the maximum weekly benefits allowed a number of weeks you can receive benefits.
This cap actually varies from state to state, with some states having a higher cap and others having a much lower one.
For instance, if you're from Iowa, the state with the highest maximum weekly payment at over $2,000 per week, any settlement negotiate will likely be higher on the average.
Whereas if you're from Mississippi, which tends to be the worst state to pursue a worker's compensation claim in, the maximum weekly payment is less than $600, so most settlements will be considerably lower.
I'll include a link in the description below with maximum weekly benefit amounts for all 50 states.
If your case is being disputed by the insurance company, it may prevent you from getting a big settlement.
They might still offer to settle because they want to avoid the expense and uncertainty of a trial, but any offer they make is likely going to be low.
However, there is still hope.
If you know you have the evidence to win in court, statistics show that continuing to litigate your case or in some circumstances filing an appeal from an adverse decision can get you, on the average, 34% more in benefits than if you accept that their initial low first offer.
Workers who file an appeal receive an average of about $25,000, while those who don't only receive an average of about $19,000.
And statistics show that almost half of those who receive a settlement had previously had their case denied initially.
So it pays to take the insurance company to court.
Another way to get a large settlement is by getting leverage over the insurance company.
If they want something from you, then you can give it to them in exchange for more money.
Some examples of this include if they're willing to settle, but want to avoid setting a precedent of accepting a certain type of case, or if they want to avoid having your case become public knowledge and ask you to sign a nondisclosure agreement, or for some reason they want you to settle your case sooner rather than later.
Sometimes insurance companies might be willing to negotiate a favorable settlement without formally accepting liability.
One of my clients once had a heart attack at work and the insurance company did not want to accept the case, but they were willing to settle for a favorable amount without formally accepting the claim.
We agreed on the terms of my client got a settlement which made him very, very happy.
So what happens if the insurance company provides you with a low first offer?
This is extremely common. In fact, in all my years as a worker's comp lawyer, it's very rare for me to even remember an insurance company making an acceptable first offer.
That means you should be prepared to negotiate because injured workers who accept the first settlement offer they receive end up with an average of about $10,700, which is half of the average settlement amount most injured workers will get.
Whereas those who engage the insurance company in negotiations receive an average of $26,300, almost a 150% increase.
So as with a disputed case, it seriously pays to push back against the insurance company.
To learn more about negotiating, be sure to watch my other video on how to negotiate a big worker's compensation settlement.
Most people get a worker's comp lawyer to help them settle their case.
However, about a third of the injured workers still try to do it by themselves, and on the average they receive a smaller amount of total compensation, at around $18,000.
Whereas those who do hire a lawyer receive nearly 30% more compensation at around $23,500.
Why is that?
Because not only are workers compensation attorneys skilled negotiators, but they also know how much your case is worth and understand how to get that money out of the insurance company.
So if you or a loved one have been injured on the job here in New York State and you would like to set up a free consultation with an experienced lawyer who will fight for what you deserve, give me a call at 212-406-8989 to schedule a free consultation. Our conversation is confidential, costs you nothing, and will help you understand whether or not you have a strong case.
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