In Florida, a workers’ compensation Claimant can settle their work comp case for a lump sum of money. This settlement is in exchange for the workers’ compensation carrier to no longer be responsible for future medical care and any possible future wage benefits. However, a quick or non-thought-out settlement can result in devastation, according to research performed by the Saint Louis University.
“There are many casualties in the current system. Those casualties can leave people worse than we previously believed, and at a cost to society that appears pretty high. Our research shows those who are African-American, at lower income levels, young or all of the above have the greatest problems, and these problems escalate over time,” said Raymond Tait, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and lead author of the research that appeared in the August issue of Spine. “Regardless of the settlement that you receive, if you continue to experience pain, our findings indicate you will often get worse over time — worse in ways that can lead to the loss of a home, lead to family disruptions, and even lead to divorce.”
In the study, researchers analyzed court records of 1,475 African-Americans and non-Hispanic whites who settled Missouri workers’ compensation claims in St. Louis City and County, and Jackson County, which includes Kansas City. After examining 10 years of court records – spanning five years before claim settlements and five years after — to study the impact of claim settlement on major life disruptions, they found that many workers’ compensation Claimants were involved in court records related to cases such as breach of contract, child support, adult abuse, stalking, divorce, foreclosure and eviction. Workers who were younger than 35 also had significantly more financial problems than those who were middle-aged and older. Younger workers had three times more financial legal actions than those between 35 and 55, and five times more than those older than age 55.
The findings indicate previous research that took a short-term view of outcomes for those who had workers’ compensation settlements for back injuries underestimated the magnitude of the difficulties ahead, particularly for younger and African-American workers.
This study reinforces the importance of consulting with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney before discussing settlement of your claim with the work comp carrier. Failing to understand all your rights could have a dramatic effect on you and your family for years to come.
Attorney Matthew Noyes has helped Florida workers involved in Florida workers’ compensation claims for nearly 20 years. His Clearwater law firm — Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes — has been caring for clients since 1955. Click here for a free case consultation with Attorney Matthew Noyes.