Let’s say the insurance company offers you $100,000 to settle your work injury claim. This means that they pay you $100,000 and you agree to close your case and not ask for any more benefits in the future. To many people, that’s a lot of money, and saying yes seems like a no-brainer.

However, you should be skeptical. There are times when $100,000 isn’t a good offer. If your case is really worth $200,000, then it’s a terrible offer. It’s also bad if you have a lot of treatment ahead of you. If you need back surgery, then $100,000 isn’t enough. If you settle, that surgery will be on your own dime; workers’ compensation no longer pays for treatment after settlement. It’s also not enough if you can’t return to your old job and you were making good money. If you can get $250,000 at trial, that’s obviously better than $100,000.

It can be scary to turn down a settlement that seems like a lot of money. This is why it’s important to have an attorney with tons of experience in how insurance companies work. For example, they’ll know that the insurance company isn’t going to offer you more than your claim is worth. So if you’re getting an offer of $100,000, it’s not a windfall. Your claim could actually be worth much more. A good attorney will be able to give you solid advice on whether you should accept an offer or go to trial.

It’s really important to have an attorney who isn’t going to urge you to settle because they see dollar signs. Your attorney should look out for your best interests and take your case to trial if necessary. Their focus shouldn’t be on getting their fee but getting you the amount you really deserve. They should be thinking about your future, including any medical care you might need and your job prospects.

Once you settle a claim, your case is essentially closed. Never settle without getting legal advice from someone who knows what they’re doing. 

By Michael Helfand