Perhaps the most common question I receive is: What is my workers compensation claim worth? For how much can I settle? The answer is not as straightforward as you might think.
It is always important to remember that there are three parties to any workers compensation settlement: you (the injured worker), the employer, and the BWC. Settlement occurs only if all three parties are in agreement. The motivation of all three parties can drive the value of any settlement.
Timing can play an issue. If your claim is with a state fund employer, and is less than five years old, then your employer must sign off on the terms. If it is older than five years, then BWC will negotiate with you directly. Self-insured employers are always involved.
An employer may have less obvious motivations to settle. Some employers with a history of multiple claims can face what is known as a “penalty rating” by Ohio BWC. If so, they may be inclined to settle to remove some claims from their “experience rating.” It works similar to auto insurance – the more claims the higher the premium.
As a general rule it is best to ask the following question: How much is my claim likely to cost both BWC and the employer over the rest of its lifespan. You must consider both future awards of compensation as well as the anticipated cost of future medical treatment.
Settlement can provide the injured worker with a unique opportunity. I typically discourage an injured worker from settlement if they anticipate the need for costly future medical treatment. On the other hand, if they are certain of their prognosis, then settlement can provide a great opportunity to receive top dollar for a claim by potentially including the value of medical treatment that the injured worker may never need or receive. Fortunately, the injured worker, in consultation with their medical provider, is in the best position make this evaluation.