Oftentimes the idea of settlement will come up in the life of your case during the time when nothing is actually pending in court. It may just be that you’ve been collecting weekly benefits for some time and the carrier or someone else reaches out and asks whether there’s any interest in ending the case with the lump sum settlement.
In many cases, however, the prospect of settlement rears its head during a contested hearing or a trial. That may be a trial regarding whether or not you’re even entitled to continuing benefits under the workers’ compensation act. Alternatively, an ancillary dispute may come up regarding payment of a particular medical bill or authorization for a particular type of treatment, which may be the impetus for the parties or the judge to suggest that settlement be explored.
One of the things that the judge will ask the employee during the settlement hearings is whether or not they understand that they do not have to settle the case. The employee should be aware that he or she could go to trial or proceed with the full hearing, present evidence, present witnesses, and have a judge make the official determination. In making that determination, there could be a decision that the employee is no longer entitled to benefits or whatever they’re asking for. In that case, weekly checks would stop. On the other hand, the matter could be decided in the employee’s favor, in which case the weekly checks would continue. In light of the consequences of proceeding further, the employee has to make an intelligent decision about whether or not settlement is in his or her best interest.