This is an area that confuses many injured workers because if you sustain a serious work injury at some point you will likely receive a letter and one or more checks for your permanent partial disability based upon your functional impairment rating. Most people think that this is a settlement, but in reality, it is just a payment that the insurance company is required to make in order to avoid being penalized later on. Our general advice is that if you receive a check from the insurance company and you have not previously agreed to a settlement or signed any paperwork, then you should be able to cash the check without agreeing that it is a settlement or that this is all you are owed.
The only way to formally settle a workers compensation case in Iowa is to sign settlement paperwork, submit it to the agency for approval and have the settlement approved by the agency. However, keep in mind that if you speak with the insurance adjuster on the phone and agree to a settlement sometimes they will try to enforce that settlement against you. It is always the best policy to ask for their offer in writing so you can review it instead of just agreeing to something on the phone. If you do get a written offer, then you should consult with an experienced Iowa workers compensation attorney so you can avoid being taken advantage of. Our office will review your matter for you at no cost or risk. Remember, if you really settle your case it is very difficult, if not impossible, to undo a written settlement. Why not do the smart thing and have your matter reviewed before you even think about accepting a settlement in your workers' compensation case.
Keep in mind that there are several different types of settlements in Iowa workers compensation cases and they include:
Agreement for settlement- This is when the parties agree that the injured worker has sustained a certain percentage of disability and will be paid a set number of weeks and an agreed-upon weekly rate. Depending upon when benefits were last paid, some or all of the money owed will be paid in a lump-sum fashion while some benefits may be paid weekly. The advantage of this settlement is that the medical remains open and the injured worker has 3 years from the date of the last check to bring a review-reopening action should their medical condition worsen, they lose their job because of the work injury, etc.
Agreement for settlement with full commutation- This is similar to the above settlement, but in exchange for a lump-sum payment the medical benefits and the right to review-reopen the case are lost.
Compromise Settlement- This is most commonly done with the injured worker is no longer working for the employer and the parties reach agreement for compensation to close the past items owed, the future medical and weekly benefits all to be paid in a lump-sum fashion. If the injured worker is on Social Security Disability this settlement can be used if the proper language is inserted into the settlement documents to avoid or reduce the Social Security offset.
If you, in fact, have signed settlement paperwork and your settlement has been approved by the Iowa Workers Compensation agency then you should expect to receive a settlement check based upon the amount you agreed to within 7 to 14 business days. Often the check will have to clear your bank before the funds are available to you. This usually means the money has to sit in your account for 10 banking business days before you can withdraw money.
We are here to answer your questions and help you through what can be a complicated and frustrating process. We offer you a workers compensation consultation at no cost or risk. Just give us a call at (641) 792-3595 and ask to speak with one of our workers' compensation attorneys. If one is not immediately available, then we will set a specific time and date to answer your questions and see how we can help.
If you are not ready to speak with an attorney but would like more information then request our Iowa Work Comp. Book available at no cost to you at: IowaWorkInjury.com