This global pandemic has uprooted the lives of many American citizens, but those with an open workers’ compensation case may face a unique problem.
Many injured workers are now being pressured into settling their cases in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, if you’re also under home isolation, you may be wondering if it’s possible to settle your case remotely.
First Thing’s First: You May Not Need to Settle
This pandemic has created a lot of financial uncertainty for people, so injured workers may feel tempted to take the insurance company’s settlement offer without considering if that’s really the best move for them.
Settling your case most often means that yes, you receive a lump sum which can solve your immediate problems, but may also cut all future benefits you may be entitled to. Most often, insurance companies will add a line in the settlement in which you agree to waive your right to any future medical reimbursements you could be entitled to. So, if over time your work injuries present with further complications, you may not be able to receive financial support from the insurance company anymore.
Before you sign anything, it is a good idea to speak with an experienced St. Louis worker’s compensation lawyer and have them review the details of your case.
How the Settlement Process Works During a Pandemic
The process itself is virtually identical, the only difference is that now instead of having face to face meetings, you will likely need to discuss with the insurance company via phone calls, Skype, or other conferencing software.
The settlement process involves negotiating a lump sum (or weekly payments, though insurance companies usually prefer lump sums), where both sides will make an argument for either a higher amount (you) or lower amount (the insurance company).
Once both parties agree on a settlement, you will need to sign a document for it to come into effect. You will likely receive the contract via email, and be asked to sign and mail it to the insurance company later on.
Then, the settlement agreement will be sent to an administrative judge for consideration using the local office docketing email. If needed, the Division will request a teleconference with both parties.
In some cases, however, the parties involved cannot reach common ground, which is usually when the Division steps in and tries to resolve it either through mediation, or having an administrative judge weigh in on the case.
Missouri has announced that both these processes are still available to injured workers during the pandemic, but that they will be done remotely, using teleconferencing software.
Have You Been Injured on the Job in Missouri?
This pandemic does not mean you need to accept any settlement the insurance company is offering. Please reach out to our law office for a free case evaluation and help to negotiate a fair deal with the insurer.
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