Is Estimating The Value Of A Settlement Difficult If I'm Totally Disabled?
How do I estimate the value of my settlement if I’m totally disabled?
This is more difficult to estimate because the employer has to pay indefinitely.
The Clock Isn't Ticking
If someone is totally disabled, then estimating the value of a settlement is a bit more difficult. This is because the exposure to the employer is potentially much larger than it would be in the traditional or typical case where a worker is “partially” disabled (and therefore only entitled to weekly checks for 312 weeks or six years). When an employer looks at the exposure on an employee who is totally disabled, the six-year limitation that generally applies to the people who are partially disabled does not apply. That is to say that the six-year clock for the checks is not ticking. Theoretically, an employer has a lifetime of exposure for an employee who is totally disabled, because they will continue to receive weekly checks until they die or until their total disability is removed.
The other thing that makes the value of a total case larger is the fact that weekly benefit checks will increase over time through the cost of living adjustment (COLA) provisions of the Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Act. These provisions provide that employees who have been totally disabled for more than a year will get an annual cost of living adjustment to their weekly check. In a given year, there may be no cost of living increase, and other times it may be as high as four percent or more. On average, though, the exposure to the carrier grows significantly, and almost exponentially if the injured worker outlives their life expectancy. Insurance companies are usually much more motivated to resolve cases like this for a fixed lump sum number.