A Claimant’s Prioritization Towards Settlement
From the inception of a workers’ compensation claim, it is moving towards its conclusion, be that classification, a schedule loss of use award, or a settlement. A defense attorney will be working to move the claim towards an ideal conclusion reducing the exposure of their client. A claimant, however, will have other, often unpredictable, goals to their workers’ compensation claim.
A claimant will, by nature, focus on only aspects of their workers’ compensation claim. While the system can provide a comprehensive variety of benefits, awards, and treatments to an injured worker, the byzantine system is at best uninviting. In working to reach a settlement agreement, it is worth remembering that a claimant typically weighs the prospects of closing the file against exactly one thing, a “White Whale” priority to their claim.
Injured workers experience multiple pressures in their life, many of which involve or are a direct result of their work-related injury. Financial challenges, changes in lifestyle, marital issues and re-education are all things a claimant may experience due to or in tandem with their claim.
The workers’ compensation facet of their injury may be the last thing on their minds.
Combined with a claimant being less familiar with the workers’ compensation process, they are likely to focus their energies in resolving one problem at a time. An injured worker is likely to want one of three things: a specific medical treatment, a particular finding by a judge, or peace and quiet. Unless they are a veteran to the workers’ compensation system, claimants, even represented ones, are going to think less about how they will be classified and more about their one favorite issue.
In practice, knowing the claimant’s priority is vital to reaching a settlement agreement. A claimant could be holding out on reasonable settlement offers because of an outstanding mileage reimbursement, or three weeks of physical therapy. For this reason, when moving for a full and final settlement with a claimant, it can be a powerful tool to know the what “White Whale” they are hunting in their claim is.