I get asked this question all the time. Remember, it takes two to tango. You cannot settle your PA Work Comp case on your own. The work comp carrier and/or employer must agree to the terms of the settlement. Generally speaking, you will want to first hire an experienced, Certified PA Work Comp Lawyer. If you don’t do that, you risk getting taken advantage of by the insurer/employer because you won’t be on an equal playing field regarding the complex Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act.
Once you hire an attorney, you will want to discuss many details with him or her. Some of these details include your age, work history, date of injury, work-related diagnoses, symptoms, pre injury average weekly wage, any post injury earnings, and what if any opposing medical records exist which offer an opposing point of view, in addition to any pending litigation, the Judge to whom the case is assigned, and other relevant factors.
After careful consideration of the factors, you will present what’s called a Demand– this is usually structured as a lump sum amount, in addition to a proposition regarding the medical benefits. This can be complicated if you’re on Medicare or soon to be eligible. Sometimes a Medicare Set Aside is needed for future medical benefits, and in other cases a portion of the proceeds can be designated and used as future medical to account for Medicare’s interests.
After a Demand is presented, the attorney will follow up to obtain an offer. And then negotiations tend to heat up. It can take days, weeks, months, or even longer to settle a case. It depends on when both parties are satisfied with the terms- at which point a hearing must take place so that a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Judge can approve the deal.
If an agreement isn’t made, the parties may wish to agree to a Mediation which is a meeting with a Work Comp to help resolve the matter.
There is a lot of inaccurate and misleading information floating around about Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Settlements. Not every case results in a “Large Cash Settlement”. And, most importantly, every case is unique. Comparing your case to a friend or neighbor’s case is a terrible idea. Consult with an expert and let him or her evaluate your case on the merits of YOUR situation.