If you decide to settle your workers’ compensation claim, the amount you may receive is not capped by New York State law. The maximum settlement amount is whatever your representation and the insurance carrier’s representation agree to set in your individual case.
But to understand what you can reasonably expect to receive in relation to your workplace injury, it’s important to know the difference between benefits that come from a workers’ compensation claim, and a personal injury lawsuit. They have significant differences in New York State.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
When you are injured on the job, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits through your employer’s insurance carrier. These benefits primarily cover medical expenses and lost wages directly related to your workplace injury. The New York State Workers Compensation Board administers this program.
Cash payments for lost wages are determined on a formula that considers your average weekly wage and the amount of disability you’re judged to have. Between that formula and your medical bills, you can just about figure out the amount of workers comp benefits you can expect.
Another benefit that may be available is a schedule loss of use award. If you endure a permanent disability from your injury — even if it is a partial disability — the schedule loss of use award could provide an additional sum. But like the other workers’ comp benefits, the schedule loss of use is based on a formula and is not open-ended.
Section 32 Settlement
In some cases, one party in a workers’ compensation claim might seek to end ongoing benefit payments in favor of a lump sum or annuity. This requires a negotiated settlement called a Section 32 Waiver Agreement.
The most important consideration for an injured worker in a Section 32 Waiver Agreement is the finality. If one of these agreements is negotiated, signed and approved by the New York Workers Compensation Board, the case ends there and cannot be reopened. So if you, as the injured worker, suffer a relapse of your condition or residual injuries, you have no recourse. The Section 32 Waiver Agreement ends your claim for good.
No maximum settlement amount exists in a Section 32 agreement. The negotiated amount will consider factors similar to your claim — the medical care required to treat your injury, the lost income and the degree of your ongoing disability. Settlements of hundreds of thousands, or even into the millions, do happen but every case is unique. An experienced workers compensation attorney will help you set reasonable expectations and fight for every dollar to which you’re entitled.
Personal Injury Settlement
New York is one of the few states that does not cap awards from personal injury lawsuits. This is the category the public tends to associate with outsized awards to plaintiffs in the millions or even tens of millions of dollars because personal injury cases can include punitive damages — unlike workers’ compensation cases.
But most workplace injury cases are handled through the workers’ compensation program instead of civil courts. Even if your workers’ comp claim is initially denied, most appeals still take place through the system set up by the state board. There may be situations, however, where a lawsuit is an option. Examples include:
- Your employer intentionally injured you, as opposed to your injury occurring due to negligence or accident.
- Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance is not sufficient — or if it circumvented the law and has no insurance at all.
- Your injury is connected to the negligence of a third party, such as the manufacturer of the equipment you use on the job.
Lawsuits over workplace injuries are typically more complex, riskier and time-consuming than working through a workers’ compensation claim. Don’t let the dream of a multi-million dollar settlement draw you into a poor decision. Paul Giannetti, Attorney at Law, provides free consultations to help you understand the right path to making yourself whole again following a workplace injury. Contact us online or call (518) 243-8011 to schedule your consultation today.