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When Should I Settle My Workers' Compensation Case?

Jude Kerrison

Every case is different but, in general, the best time to settle your Rhode Island Workers' Compensation case is when the case can't do anything more for you. To illustrate what I mean by that, I will use the example of a case that I recently settled. The employee was 24 years old when he injured his low back moving heavy equipment during the course of his employment as a laborer. Because of his young age he followed a conservative treatment plan and tried to avoid surgery for as long as possible, however he ended up having a low back fusion. The insurer paid for multiple MRIs, chiropractic treatment, pain management specialists, consultations with three different neurosurgeons, multiple rounds of physical therapy and ultimately the surgery.

Following that surgery he had a good result but the surgeon indicated he was not going to be able to go back to the heavy duty work that he was doing when he got hurt. Shortly after that we got him compensated for the scar from his surgery which had reached an end result. At this point decisions had to be made regarding the employee's future. The employee can only collect benefits for 6 years (extended by the number of weeks that he was totally disabled following surgery), so he had to figure out what he was going to do with the rest of his life because at some point the weekly checks from the insurer would stop. The employee met with a vocational expert to examine his work history, education and skills to determine how best to re-enter the workforce. At this point we could have pursued vocational rehabilitation and had the employee retrained in another line of work but he took the initiative to pursue some lighter duty jobs that he was interested in.

Finally after all of the above we decided that it would be in his best interest to pursue settlement because 1) He had exhausted his options medically and no more treatment was on the horizon 2) He received his disfigurement compensation 3) He was not going to pursue vocational rehabilitation and 4) He had some other job leads. Basically the only thing the workers' compensation system was doing for him was giving him a check every week. At that point, he would be better served by getting a lump sum of money and moving on to the next chapter of his life


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