Understanding Minnesota Work Comp Settlements If You Sustained a Traumatic Work Injury
September 15, 2023 – Paul W. Schroepfer & Robert A. Correia
For many injured workers in Minnesota, experiencing a traumatic work injury is not just about immediate pain and recovery. It’s about facing a future where returning to your job might be impossible. But what if the insurance company has approached you or your lawyer about potentially settling your workers’ compensation case?
At Robichaud, Schroepfer & Correia, we know the tough decisions involved regarding entering into a settlement after your traumatic injury. In this blog, we’ll share what you need to know so you can make the best decision for your situation.
If you have questions, need help with your claim, or want to learn more about work comp settlements, contact us at (612) 333-3343. We’re here to provide compassionate, knowledgeable support and help you secure a fair settlement for your injuries.
Understanding Traumatic Injuries
Traumatic injuries go beyond the average workplace mishap. We’re talking about injuries that have life-altering implications. Injuries include:
- Spinal cord injuries leading to paralysis
- Significant traumatic brain injuries
- Other conditions that permanently affect your ability to perform your previous job functions
Dealing with such injuries isn’t just about the physical toll; it’s about reshaping your entire life. These types of injuries often translate to higher settlements due to the prolonged or permanent nature of the disability involved.
Medical Considerations After a Catastrophic Injury
While immediate medical attention post-injury is paramount, the journey doesn’t end there. Catastrophic injuries can necessitate long-term medical treatments, therapies, and adjustments in day-to-day living.
Continuous medical evaluations are crucial, not just for your health but also to document the ongoing impact of the injury.
This documentation plays a pivotal role when determining the settlement you’ll receive. Never underestimate the power of consistent documentation. It’s a key weapon in proving the extent and impact of your injuries.
The Psychological and Emotional Toll of Permanent Work Disability
And while financial compensation is essential, prioritizing mental well-being is equally vital. Let’s face it: Not being able to return to work isn’t just a financial hit; it’s an emotional and psychological one, too. Your job may have been a significant part of your identity. Its loss can lead to feelings of worthlessness, depression, or anxiety. Additionally, prolonged pain can render an individual to feel these same feelings of worthlessness, depression, or anxiety.
Recognizing and addressing these feelings is crucial. Support groups, therapy, and counseling can offer much-needed solace during this time. With an experienced attorney, it may be possible to have these treatments covered under worker’s compensation.
How Work Comp Settlements are Determined After a Traumatic Injury
In Minnesota, a work comp settlement is an agreement between the injured worker and the employer (or, more specifically, the employer’s insurance company) to resolve a workers’ compensation claim.
This means that instead of continuing to receive ongoing benefits or pursuing a claim through hearings and potential litigation, you’ll receive a one-time lump sum or structured payment.
1. Stipulation for Settlement
A Stipulation for Settlement is an agreement that outlines the details of your workers’ compensation claim. Here’s what you can expect it to contain:
It’ll begin with a concise statement highlighting the undeniable material facts about your injury and the circumstances surrounding it.
Any disagreements or issues in contention between you and the employer or insurer will be laid out. This includes both the positions of the disputing parties and any evidence backing those positions.
The document will list the matters the parties have mutually agreed upon. This often encompasses the injuries you sustained, the wage you were earning when injured, the rate of compensation, any prior payments by the employer or insurance company, and potential third-party payments.
The agreement might discuss wage adjustments, specifics about vocational rehab services, and medical expenses – noting who’s covered what so far.
There is a section detailing attorney fees and other costs that need to be settled.
Crucially, the Stipulation for Settlement will specify the exact amount the employer or insurance company will pay you, outlining the specific benefits you’ll be foregoing in exchange. It will also mention payments made to third parties and if there are any outstanding medical bills, confirmation that those will be paid.
2. Factors Influencing the Settlement Amount
Several factors influence the final settlement amount:
Severity of the Injury
More severe injuries, especially those leading to permanent disabilities, generally result in higher settlements.
The cost of medical treatments already undertaken and anticipated future medical expenses play a significant role in determining the settlement amount.
If the injury has resulted in a loss of wages and diminished earning capacity, it will significantly impact the settlement amount.
3. Negotiation Process
While it’s common for your attorney to start the settlement process by making a demand, your employer’s insurance company can also take the first step. Both sides will review the demand, and either side may counter with a different amount.
The two sides will go back and forth until they reach an agreement. The case might proceed to a hearing or trial if an agreement isn’t reached.
Remember, negotiations are a strategic process. Every counteroffer and discussion is a step toward reaching a fair settlement.
4. Importance of Legal Representation
While it’s possible to negotiate a settlement without legal representation, having a Minneapolis workers’ compensation lawyer advocating for you can make all the difference in the outcome of your settlement.
Your attorney understands the intricacies of Minnesota law, can accurately value the claim, and can ensure you don’t settle for less than what you are entitled to.
Understanding Your Workers’ Compensation Settlement
In the process of reaching a settlement, you’ll be agreeing to give up certain workers’ comp benefits. In exchange, the insurance company or your employer will provide a specific amount of money to you.
Once you’ve signed the Stipulation for Settlement and received a judge’s approval, the funds are released, and specific claims related to those benefits are considered resolved.
However, Minnesota’s system offers flexibility:
- You might opt for compensation for lost wages but still maintain your rights for future medical coverage.
- It’s possible to settle on compensation for a particular medical procedure but preserve broader medical benefits.
- You can address outstanding medical bills and ensure provisions for any upcoming treatments.
Remember, each injury and claim is unique. Your settlement will be tailored based on your specific circumstances, the insurance company’s position, and the negotiations’ outcome.
Important Aspects to Consider
When you commit to a settlement, it’s a binding decision. Once it’s finalized, it’s challenging to reverse. Therefore, it’s crucial to:
- Understand the Details: Familiarize yourself with which benefits you’re relinquishing. Ascertain if there are any restrictions on future medical treatments.
- Examine the Agreement: Ensure the written agreement accurately reflects your discussions and understanding.
Take your time to ensure you understand every clause and every word before finalizing the agreement. Look to your attorney for guidance or clarification.
Fortunately, there’s no tax on workers’ compensation settlements in Minnesota. They’re considered compensation for personal injuries under both federal and state laws.
This tax-free nature ensures that every cent of your compensation directly supports your needs.
Settlements might seem like an immediate solution, but it’s crucial to think long-term:
- Assess Your Financial Outlook: Think about your current and future financial responsibilities.
- Consider Your Injury: If your injury might lead to long-term complications or disabilities, this could affect your settlement decisions.
- Understand the Long-Term Impact: Ensure the settlement will cover potential future costs associated with your injury.
The choice to settle is significant and often final. You should consider your current medical condition, potential future needs, and the unpredictability of future medical complications.
Speaking with an experienced Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer can provide clarity on your decision and the potential outcomes.
Robichaud, Schroepfer & Correia – Your Minneapolis Workers’ Comp Law Firm
Securing a settlement after a traumatic injury is a complex and significant decision that can impact the rest of your life. It’s essential to be well-informed and to have the right guidance every step of the way.
Our Robichaud, Schroepfer & Correia team will leverage our decades of experience to negotiate a fair workers’ comp settlement on your behalf.
To schedule your free consultation with a Minneapolis workers’ comp attorney, contact us at (612) 333-3343 or complete our online form. We’re committed to delivering individualized attention and vital support when you need it the most.
Copyright © 2023. Robichaud, Schroepfer & Correia, P.A. All rights reserved.
The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.