I recently got a call from a guy who hurt his back this past fall. He missed two months from work and had a MRI scheduled to see if he has a herniated disc. If that is his injury, it’s a big deal and at a minimum will require a lot of physical therapy. If that doesn’t work then he’ll either have an epidural steroid injection or possibly back surgery.
An MRI isn’t cheap and neither is any of the medical procedures that could happen. Before the MRI could take place, this injured worker got a call from the insurance company telling him that instead of them spending $1,000.00 on a MRI, they’d give him $2,000.00 to just resolve the case. He smartly said no and they quickly increased their offer to $5,000.00.
Now this is a young guy and $5,000.00 is more money than he’s ever had in his life. It would be a big deal for him. Perhaps he could get a car or move out of his parents house.
The problem is that it’s a dirty trick and it would be a terrible idea for him to accept the offer and close out his case. This is true for many reasons.
First, the insurance company would not have to pay for any more medical care. So if it is a herniated disc and he needs all that treatment, he’d be out of luck. If a surgery was needed he could be looking at close to $100,000.00 in total medical bills which gives you an idea why the insurance company is so eager to settle.
Second, by settling, he’ll no longer receive weekly TTD checks. He doesn’t make a ton of money, but within four months he’d lose out more than $5,000.00 in benefits alone.
Third, there’s nothing more important than your health, so to settle while still injured is just not smart and not in YOUR best interests. It’s certainly in the best interests of the insurance company. They make money when they don’t pay on a claim.
Finally, if he does have a more serious injury that requires lots of medical treatment, the case is going to be worth much more than $5,000.00. I can’t tell you exactly what it would be worth, but can tell you that it makes no sense to take $5,000.00 today when you could instead receive $25,000.00 (or whatever it’s worth) in a year or two.
This strategy is actually being pushed by a Chicago law firm who defends insurance companies. They have nothing to lose by throwing these offers out there and some desperate attorneys might tell their clients to take the offer.
No matter who you are and what your case facts are, I can tell you that you should NEVER settle before you are done with your medical treatment. It’s not what is best for you. If your lawyer is telling you to do that then they are looking out for themselves, just as the insurance company is looking out for themselves by making the offer in the first place. You don’t lose your right to settle by waiting and the offer not only isn’t going to go away, it will in all likelihood increase by a lot.