Watch out for low ball offers on a Michigan workers’ comp settlement for back injury claims from the insurance company and learn how to increase the value of your claim.
We previously blogged about magistrate disposition statistics and how most plaintiffs are choosing to settle their cases instead of proceeding with trial. The primary reason is that 2011 legislative reforms have made proving entitlement to wage loss benefits much harder. This is because insurance companies can now use post-injury wage earning capacity (PIWEC) to offset weekly checks. Here is what injured workers need to understand about a workers’ comp settlement for back injury claims.
Michigan law permits injured workers to trade medical and wage loss benefits for a lump sum cash payment. This amount of money is tax free and can be used for any purpose. Many of our clients use this amount money to finish medical treatment and do vocational rehabilitation on their own terms. It is an attractive option when faced with the prospect of getting small weekly checks and being under the thumb of the insurance company.
Some of the more difficult cases involve back injuries. These can be devastating if they result in permanent work restrictions and lifetime medical costs. If an employee has always done heavy work, the transition to a light or sedentary job can be nearly impossible.
The amount paid for a workers’ comp settlement for back injury claims depends on several factors. Insurance companies look at potential exposure for medical and wage loss. It is a business decision and it must make financial sense. Asking for too much money for a workers’ comp settlement back injury claim can sometimes be counterproductive. Watch out for insurance companies who make low-ball settlement offers because of financial distress.
Medical treatment includes conservative measures like physical therapy, injections, and prescription medications. Some injured workers must undergo surgery like a discectomy or spinal fusion. A spinal cord stimulator might also be implanted for treatment of chronic pain symptoms. These items are not cheap and should be factored into any workers’ comp settlement for back injury claims.
Wage loss benefits are based upon 80% of an employee’s after-tax average weekly wage. Weekly checks are paid indefinitely but can be offset starting at age 65. Insurance companies use PIWEC to reduce the comp rate and what must be paid out. A good-faith job search is very important to refute this argument.
Insurance companies tell people that back problems are just part of the aging process. Watch out for IME doctors who say it’s just degenerative disc disease. This is especially true if diagnosed with herniated disc, disc protrusion, pinched nerve, sciatica, or radiculopathy.
Preexisting medical conditions are also not a basis for a dispute if underlying pathology was changed by a workplace injury. If an injured employee is suddenly unable to work, this is a sign that something might have changed. Watch out for new symptoms like pain and numbness down the leg.
Any workers’ comp settlement for back injury claims is going to depend upon future medical treatment and how long an employee will remain disabled from work. An experienced lawyer can maximize the value of a worker’ comp settlement for back injury claims by using medical and vocational evidence to show continuing entitlement. Get a free consultation before accepting any insurance company settlement offer.
Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (844) 316-8033 for a free consultation today.