When an Iowa worker suffers a work-related injury, condition or illness and seeks workers’ compensation benefits, it may be beneficial to consider a settlement rather than going through an extended process regarding benefits. For many, this is preferable to the uncertainty as to how a claim will be resolved. Settling a workers’ compensation case will at least give the worker a concrete understanding of the benefits he or she will get, its duration and allow for future planning.
Still, it is wise to have a legal advocate to protect the worker and explain the details of a settlement, should it be offered and accepted. In the state, there are six kinds of workers’ compensation settlements. They are:
- Agreement for settlement
- Compromise settlement
- Combination settlement
- Lump sum payment
- Full commutation
- Partial commutation
If a worker and insurer seek a settlement, it must be approved by the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner before it can be put into effect.
If there is an agreement for settlement, the sides will formulate an amount the worker will be paid. It is voluntary. Once it is approved by the commissioner, the worker still has the right to more payments or medical benefits in the future. A compromise settlement is used if the parties are on opposite sides as to the extent of the injury, disagree on what should be paid, its duration and how much medical coverage is needed. This could be beneficial for workers who are concerned that they might end up with nothing if the case is decided in favor of the insurer. Compromising means the worker can no longer receive any benefits in the future.
A contingent settlement is based on a specified event taking place after the case has been settled and approved. Settlements that are based on an event that is expected to take place but does not could result in the settlement and the commissioner’s approval being vacated. Combination settlements are used when there is a part of the claim that is deemed to be worthy of compensation.
Lump sums are separate from the usual way in which compensation is paid. In general, these workers’ compensation payments are doled out weekly. A lump sum payment – as the name suggests – is made at once. Legally, there are two kinds of lump sum payments: full and partial commutation. With full commutation, the worker will receive a lump sum payment that covers all future workers’ compensation payments. It is important to understand that accepting a full commutation will eliminate the worker’s claim to weekly benefits and could end medical benefits as well. To receive this payment, the worker must show that it is necessary and serves his or her best interest. A partial commutation will, as the title implies, pay a lump sum for part of the future benefits that would otherwise be paid on a weekly basis. Once this is approved, it will say in the agreement that the worker has the right to disability benefits. It will not eliminate the worker’s right to receive future weekly payments or the medical benefits.
Work accidents can happen in any industry whether it is physically taxing, sedentary or anywhere in between. A person who was hurt in an industrial accident, on a construction site, while working in areas where there is a chance at occupational illness (a major concern under the current circumstances), in a store, at an office, or in the service industry should be cognizant of the steps necessary to recover workers’ compensation benefits. This can cover for wage loss, medical expenses and more. Discussing the case with a professional, experienced and aggressive law firm can help to get a worker the compensation needed to move forward.