Settlements in Workers’ Comp Cases in Florida
What Constitutes a Settlement?
According to Florida Statutes and the Florida Division of Financial Services, Workers’ Compensation “settlements may be made under certain circumstances and are voluntary; not automatic or mandatory.”
Under qualifying circumstances any settlement that the claimant agrees to will finalize the liability and obligation of the employer to that employee. Any costs or losses that exceed the settlement amount are non-recoverable. Receiving a settlement requires the claimant to give up all rights to any workers compensation, or medical coverage from federal, state, or private insurance. Medical costs and lost wages already paid will be reimbursed to the agency that paid them from the settlement moneys.
What’s There to Lose?
The law further requires the claimant to pay his or her attorney fees and legal costs from the settlement funds. The claimant should prepare his or her estimate of past and future lost wages, medical treatment and care costs, and all other costs associated with their claim very thoroughly as he or she will have no recourse if injuries manifest later, inflation exceeds the settlement, or any other costs arise that were not anticipated. Other amounts, such as unpaid child support are required to be paid from settlement funds, even though these are not related to the employee’s claim.
Do I Need an Attorney to Represent Me?
While a claimant may file a claim without being represented by an attorney, there are requirements for additional forms for claimants who do not have representation. Naturally, this complicates the process and, historically, has delayed settlements.
If Medicare eligibility is anticipated in the near future, or within 30 months of the settlement, Medicare requires submission of the settlement papers with an allocation of the amounts set aside for medical care and for compensation. They will expect evidence of responsible provision for medical care from the settlement. Obtaining Medicare’s approval of the allocation also can delay the settlement even longer.
It’s advisable to consult with an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney before filing a settlement claim. The process can move more quickly with representation because a lawyer can ensure that all steps in the process and the final settlement address all of the claimant’s interests for the best possible outcome.
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Experienced personal injury attorneys can help protect you in the case of a work-related injury. For a free consultation and explanation of your rights under the Florida Workers’ Compensation Laws, please contact personal injury attorneys Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter at The Florida Firm in Orlando, Florida.