Can I receive a lump sum settlement from workers’ comp and can I sue anyone else?

by Karl Voigt

Karl just answered this Pennsylvania workers’ compensation question on Avvo.com:

“I was hurt at work 2 weeks ago, the company doctor put me on light duty and i lost a week of work now im on full duty and my employer says they gave away my position. i have a surgeon and my private doctor telling me that i need surgery asap and they told me not to go back to work until i have the surgery and im healed. i was told i am not getting workers comp and i have not returned to work.
I work for a hiring agency and was contracted to work at a water treatment plant through them. my paychecks come from the agency. Also i went to the comp doctor 3 times they told me that i didnt have a hernia at all and that i pulled a muscle, 4th time i went they tell me i do have a hernia and that i dont need surgery”

The other answers are correct – we don’t know enough of the facts in your case. However, some general answers can point you in the right direction.

First and foremost, nearly any case can settle. The big questions are “when?” and “for how much?”. As a general rule I think that settlement should only come after two prerequisites are met. Namely, an injured worker’s medical condition must be plateaued; it may be unwise to settle the case when one is facing imminent surgery. Second, an injured worker should have a plan as to what happens after the settlement. Reeducation? Move on to a different job? Collect Social Security disability? Once these conditions are met, that is the time to seriously contemplate settling your case for a lump sum.

As far as being able to sue anyone else, certainly your employer enjoys immunity from civil lawsuit. Which means immunity from any assessment of damages for pain and suffering. Sometimes, however, other parties are more responsible for your injury. As an example, a worker could be injured in a motor vehicle accident. If it happened while working, clearly it should be covered by Workers’ Compensation. However, that individual may also have the right to sue the person who hit him. However, any recovery could be reduced because of the concept of subrogation. If the Workers’ Compensation insurance company paid any benefits, they may be entitled to reimbursement from the proceeds of the personal injury award.

If all of this seems complex, you’re right. I will echo the other answers here and strongly suggest that you meet with a certified Workers’ Compensation specialist. Good luck!

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