Legacy claims that have been sitting on the books for months, years or even decades can add up to major headaches and expenditures for workers’ compensation payers. Despite all attempts to close them, the injured worker involved just doesn’t seem to be interested in settling the claim.
The good news is, there are organizations solely committed to bringing even some of the most difficult cases to settlement and creating a true win-win for all stakeholders involved – including the injured worker.
Structured settlements are an alternative to lump sum settlements, which often fail to take care of the injured workers’ needs long term. Structured settlements can be set up to deliver varying amounts of money over the injured worker’s lifetime which can address all his current and future needs, such as:
- Medical expenses
- Living costs
- Children’s education
- Special needs trusts
- Establishing a business
- Home modifications
Working with an experienced, highly professional structured settlement consultant can be a lifesaver, for the injured worker, his family, employer and the payer.
Why Claims Don’t Settle
Structured settlement consultants specialize in settling claims. Typically the most difficult challenge in settling claims is addressing the injured workers’ concerns:
- Concerned there will be no money
- Not wanting to deal with Medicare compliance issues
- Worried about losing support to navigate the medical system
- Uneasy about the red tape involved in paying medical bills
- Afraid of change
The emotional concerns of injured workers with legacy claims are just as, or even more important than the practical concerns, such as running out of money too soon. While injured workers may abhor dealing with the workers’ compensation system, they find some comfort in knowing they will get a consistent flow of money and that they have someone, the claims adjuster, who helps steer them in the right direction.
Part of the problem with trying to close these claims is that the injured worker has not had anyone fully explain the options available in settling. The claims adjuster may ask every few months whether the injured worker is interested in settling, but that person is not in the best position to develop a settlement plan. This process requires someone getting involved with the injured worker; understanding his particular needs, his family situation, and what he wants for the future. Engaging with an injured worker this way can reveal his true needs and concerns, which can lay the groundwork for a settlement.
Why a Structured Settlement Consultant
Structured settlement consultants don’t get paid unless and until the claim settles. Therefore, they work with all parties involved, rather than promoting one side or entity over another. For claims to settle, everyone involved must agree it is a win-win arrangement.
Your consultant knows that the easiest way to achieve a solution is by ensuring that all needs are addressed. Working under the premise that there is no one-size-fits-all, or cookie-cutter approach to settlements, the consultant creates a customized plan that takes into account any and all issues that may arise over a person’s lifetime. Using the flexibility of a structure allows for addressing these issues, but a good consultant will present a variety of solutions, sometimes even going beyond the structured settlement.
For example, the settlement might involve a large initial payout for the injured worker to pay off medical bills, attorney fees, liens, and other bills. It might then have an ongoing stream of specified monthly payments, and it might include a larger stream of payments designated for a certain time period if, for example, a child will reach college age and needs money for education.
Engaging a Structured Settlement Consultant
Often, a settlement consultant can help by finding a block of claims with high reserves that seem to be going nowhere. Providing the name of the case, the adjuster, the claims liaison, attorneys, employer, TPA and a brief synopsis to the structured settlement consultant starts the ball rolling. With permission, the consultant can reach out to the various parties, gather information and report back as to which claims make sense for settling, as well as which cases do not and why.
The best and most efficient time to engage a settlement consultant is as early as possible, rather than waiting until the 11th hour when the claim has been open for 22 years. As new cases come up, they too can be earmarked for possible settling.
Best Claims for Settling
Despite all the advantages of structured settlements, not all claims are ripe for them. Identifying these cases can be difficult to manage, thus it’s important to choose a consultant who understands both structured settlements as well as other settlement options, and which are most preferable for the case at hand.
Ultimately, choosing a company that employs objective Settlement Planners over Structured Settlement Brokers can be the best route. Settlement Planners are trained to offer a variety of solutions, rather than a single approach. However, whether you choose a Settlement Planner or a Structured Settlement Broker, these consultants are trained to think outside the box and are much more likely to bring legacy claims to settlement.
Structured settlement consultants are a great vehicle for getting long-term workers’ compensation claims off the books. By giving them minimal information on claims, they do the legwork and determine whether a claim is likely to be settled. They then go about getting a settlement agreement that meets the needs of all stakeholders.
Author Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%. He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center.
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