Should You Sign It? | Workers’ Compensation Settlements in Minnesota

Should You Sign It? | Workers’ Compensation Settlements in Minnesota

Imagine you were hurt on the job and talked to your employer about seeking workers’ compensation benefits. After lots of discussion, you sit down in a meeting with your employer and your employer’s insurance company and they present you with a settlement agreement. It provides you with a certain lump sum of money and says that the money is in full and final settlement of any workers’ compensation claim you might have related to the injury at issue. It sounds like a pretty good deal. Should you sign it?

Rule number one is, as with many situations in life, take the agreement to your lawyer before you sign it. What looks like a good deal to you might or might not look like a good deal to someone who has experience with the usual amount of benefits awarded for your particular type of injury. And just to repeat: talk to your lawyer BEFORE you sign! This is much better than going to the lawyer and saying “I’ve just signed this legally binding agreement, was that a good idea?”

There are definitely some pluses to settlement agreements in general. You do not have to go through what could be a long, drawn-out court battle. You can receive benefits faster. You might receive a large lump sum instead of small payments drawn out over time. You do not have to keep dealing with the insurance company through weekly submission of your most recent wage information.

But, there can also be some negatives. A bit of background: in Minnesota, workers’ compensation laws do not apply to independent contractors. That means that if you are an independent contractor, unlike if you are an employee, you have the ability to sue the party you were working for regarding your injury. That can sometimes result in more damages than you would receive under the workers’ compensation system. And signing a settlement agreement is essentially admitting that you were an employee of the employer your claim is against. So, if you think you should be considered an independent contractor, signing the settlement agreement might not be in your best interest.

Also, be sure that you fully understand what your injuries are and what compensation is normally awarded for those injuries. Although workers’ compensation awards and settlements can sometimes be opened if your condition later becomes more serious, the settlement can’t be undone simply because you were unaware of how much compensation you were entitled to. Talk to your lawyer about how much your disability payments would be likely to add up to over time. It is possible that, although you could receive a nice big lump sum right now if you sign the settlement agreement, that might not be the most advantageous move for you and your family.

Workers' Compensation

Christopher Rosengren
Rosengren, Kohlmeyer & Hagen Law Office, Chtd.