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Is a lump sum payment an option in my workers' compensation case?

For Massachusetts residents who are injured on the job and are receiving workers' compensation benefits, there are times when a lump sum payment is a potential option. Before accepting a lump sum, it is important to understand various important factors that accompany it. The lump sum is a contract between the worker, the insurer and, in some instances, the employer. The lump sum payment will be made in lieu of the workers' compensation payments and possibly other benefits. A judge will hear the case when it is decided whether a lump sum should be paid and determine if it is in the person's best interest.

The value of the lump sum must be compared to the benefits that will be surrendered when accepting it. If the person was injured on the job on or after November 1, 1986, the rights to future benefits will be surrendered. If, however, the insurer agrees that it is responsible for payments or there was a judgment that ordered the benefits, any medical benefits and vocational rehabilitation will be paid for. The insurer will retain the right to dispute medical bills even after the lump sum payment.

For people who are still working when they get the lump sum, their job status is often a concern. The employer cannot tell the employee that accepting a lump sum is an agreement not to return to the job. The lump sum does not stop a worker from the following: staying employed at the same job; seeking employment elsewhere; getting benefits that the employer owes; filing another workers' compensation claim if there are other injuries or illnesses; or filing a wrongful discharge or breach of contract case.

The employer is generally required to approve a lump sum offer. If the employer denies it, there will be no lump sum payment. The weekly benefits for workers' compensation will continue. If approved, the lump sum closes the case permanently in most respects.

People who are receiving workers' compensation benefits and are considering a lump sum settlement should be fully aware of all the benefits, negatives and requirements that go along with it. Before deciding, it is imperative to have assistance from an experienced legal professional who understands all aspects of workers' compensation.

Source: mass.gov, "Lump Sum Brochure," accessed on Aug. 6, 2017

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