Sometimes, in the case of a personal injury claim, individuals hope they can use money that has been settled for their new injuries. Whether or not this is possible relies on wording of the settlement.
If an attorney represents you, then they typically understand that a settlement should not be made until the individual is “medically stationary.” This means that no further medical treatment, including surgeries, can be done. Waiting until the individual is medically stationary is helpful but not always the solution.
Often with age – or as new injuries/illnesses arise throughout a lifetime – old personal injuries can flare up or come back completely if they were once dormant. For this reason, hiring a knowledgeable attorney is crucial. If your medical practitioner is not 100 percent convinced that your condition is stable from a personal injury caused by an auto collision, pedestrian, or motorcycle accident, then your attorney will know how to settle or not settle. Specifically, your lawyers should know how to write and agree to the terms of a settlement that clearly state damages can be paid for a future prognosis.
Individuals who self-represent are often unaware of these terms. In all personal injury claims, individuals will sign a settlement release that prevents future financial recovery from the third party or third party’s insurance. A settlement release without a clearly negotiated settlement that outlines a potential future prognosis, will prohibit you from receiving compensation.
Worker’s Compensation Settlements
Worker’s compensation settlements are similar to personal injury ones – it all comes down to wording. If the settlement specifies that you could be awarded for future medical expenses, then that is the case. You may submit your medical bills before the surgery and still be compensated. Hiring an attorney who is knowledgeable in worker’s comp cases is the best way to ensure future compensation. A lawyer will be able to ensure that terms for future compensation are in the settlement, if required. Otherwise, without these terms, your future medical ailments due to a worker’s compensation claim will not be paid for.
In other scenarios, it is common for individuals to seek short-term or permanent disability. If these elements were also not included in the original workers’ comp settlement, you will need to reopen your case to include them. Most businesses allow cases to be reopened with medical evidence that injuries have gotten worse.
Be sure to check your state’s individual policies. However, if you signed a full and final release of claims on your workers’ comp settlement, you will likely not be able to reopen your case. A full and final release clearly states that you may not bring up future conditions to the case. On the other hand, if back pain qualifies as a new injury, you may be able to submit a new workers comp claim.
When it comes to settlements for personal injuries or injuries at work, even if your injuries are minor, it is best to hire an attorney. Many people believe they understand the ins and outs of the law, but then agree to settlement terms that restrict them when pain persists or flares up.
A knowledgeable attorney will ensure that the proper guidelines are included in your settlement, to ensure the most compensation to you, present and future. If you believe the injuries sustained are not 100 percent stable, speak up to both your doctor and legal counsel. You will need evidence and the right legal representation on your side.