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Lump Sum Settlements for Workers Compensation Claims… a Good Idea?

If you suffered an injury in a job-related accident in Ohio, you are entitled to file a claim for benefits through the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (OhioBWC) or through your employer’s self-insurance program. In addition to medical expenses, you may be eligible for other benefits, including temporary total disability (TTD), permanent partial disability (PPD), permanent total disability (PTD) or wage loss (WL) compensation.

If you qualify for monetary benefits, you receive compensation funds on a biweekly basis. However, compensation generally covers only about two-thirds of your wages. Under Ohio law, you have the option to receive a lump sum settlement — meaning that instead of receiving a check every few weeks, you would get the entire amount of compensation at one time. And oh, how enticing that can seem.

Before jumping at that one bigger check, though, think about these issues:

  • What is the value of your claim? Usually, the current value of your claim is the amount you would receive from your employer’s insurance company over the life of the claim. To calculate, simply multiply the amount you receive in your regular workers’ comp check by the number of weeks left in your claim.
  • Are you or might you be eligible for extended benefits? The “life” of a workers’ comp claim is five years, but your claim benefits may be extended for five years when a compensation or medical bill is paid.
  • What is a reasonable settlement amount? What is reasonable to you may not seem reasonable to the insurance company. Undervaluing your claim, including the cost of future medical bills, can be catastrophic to your health and cause irreparable damage to your family’s financial security.
  • A settlement is forever. Once a settlement agreement is reached, there is no going back for more. This is why insurance companies often prefer a lump sum payment: it takes away the element of the unknown and eliminates the need for compensation reserves (the amount of money the employer or insurer would need to put aside for legal or financial obligations).

So, is there ever a time that a lump sum makes sense? There may be. But it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced Cleveland workers’ compensation attorney before you sign on the dotted line.

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