How to Settle a Workers' Compensation Case Without a Lawyer

February 19, 2021

Hardhat on a construction site.

You’ve had an accident at work. You’ve told your supervisor. Your supervisor’s response is, "Okay."

  • What should you do next?
  • Should you just keep working out of fear of losing your job?
  • Should you ask for medical attention?
  • Should you ask to fill out an accident report?
  • Should you consult with an attorney?

Before you think about settling your workers' compensation claim, you must first file and establish that you have a compensable claim under North Carolina law.

If Your Workers' Compensation Claim Is Accepted

Your employer or their insurance company will pay for your medical treatment and will pay weekly compensation while you remain out of work. However, you may think you deserve more than the amount your employer or their insurer is offering. In this case, you may want to negotiate a workers' compensation settlement.

Factors to Consider Before Negotiating a Workers' Comp Settlement Without an Attorney

You may choose to negotiate a workers' compensation settlement without a lawyer; however, you must understand the law and several other factors in accepting a settlement.

  • Your future medical needs and cost
  • The amount of the impairment — permanent partial disability (PPD)
  • Your physical restrictions and how those affect your ability to return to your occupation or whether you can return to other types of employment
  • Whether your employer will ask for resignation as part of the settlement

In almost all cases, a workers' compensation settlement cannot be undone once signed, so it's very important to make sure you are considering all compensation to which you are entitled before agreeing to a lump sum settlement.

What are the Workers' Compensation Settlement Options?

There are different types of workers' compensation settlements, and you are entitled to compensation based on the severity and permanence of your injuries.

I have returned to work at my regular pay, and my injury has healed.

In this situation, your medical expenses have been paid 100%, and no further compensation is owed.

I have returned to work but at a different job that pays a smaller wage.

In this situation, you are entitled to two-thirds the difference in your pre-injury and post-injury earnings for a maximum period of 500 weeks (with deductions for any periods of total disability previously received).

I have returned to work, and my doctor has given me a PPD rating.

In this situation, you are entitled to payment for a specific number of weeks depending on the body part injured and the percentage of disability (the treating physician assigns this percentage). When you accept this settlement, your claim will remain open for two years. During that time, you can claim additional medical treatment and other compensation if the later condition is related to the original work injury.

I have not been able to return to work.

This is a much more complicated situation. Your benefits will continue for at least 500 weeks from the date of your first disability. However, you or your insurance company may want to settle your case with a one-time payment rather than continuing weekly checks for such an extended period. If a lump sum settlement is offered, the insurance company will not pay you an amount equal to the total of your future checks, and you will give up future compensation. Settling your case in this final way has serious consequences, so you must carefully consider this option.

I continue to require medication or medical treatment for my injury.

In this situation, you may still be able to settle a part of your case or even settle your entire case, but you will need to consider your future medical needs. We recommend speaking with your doctor and consulting a lawyer before considering this option.

Ensuring you get fair compensation after a workplace injury

You only get one chance – settling your case is FINAL (except in rare situations). It costs nothing to consult with an attorney who has experience with workers' compensation before you settle. Call us BEFORE it is too late for an attorney to help.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.