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Think carefully before accepting a settlement offer

When you have a dispute over workers' compensation, at some point the other side will make you an offer of a settlement. You should think carefully before you decide whether to accept it.

One of the first things you should ask is whether the proposed settlement adequately compensates you for your medical care and the wages you lost while you were unable to return to work. Likewise, you should add up the costs you incurred related to your medical treatment. If you had to travel out of town for treatment, you should factor your travel costs into your calculations.

If your injury left you with ongoing medical needs, such as prescription medication or other treatment, you should factor your future costs into your calculations. And if your injury was permanent, you must ask yourself whether your earnings will be permanently affected. Next, you should calculate your lost future income.

You should also consider how accepting the settlement can affect your rights in other legal areas. Are you considering a personal injury lawsuit related to the injury? Will a settlement interfere with your benefits for Social Security Disability, Medicare or unemployment?

Speak to an experienced lawyer about your rights and your options for workers' compensation benefits. A lawyer can help you calculate how much your injury affected your life, so you know how much to ask for in a settlement. A lawyer can represent you in negotiations and argue on your behalf in hearings and appeals.

Remember: A settlement agreement finalizes your case. You will not be able to get more compensation from your employer's insurer after you sign the agreement. Be sure to avoid settling for less than you need and deserve.

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