“How much is my workcover case worth?” Is a question we receive very often from seriously injured workers. It is a very difficult question to answer because the “commercial value” of your case depends of many factors, and each case is unique.
How much is my workcover case worth?
We recently received an email from an aggrieved injured worker, who believes his case is worth ‘much more’ than what his lawyer has advised is a reasonable settlement. The injured worker refused to accept the settlement offer and shortly thereafter received a stern letter from his lawyer advising that if the injured worker does not follow their (legal) advice then the injured worker will no longer be able to pursue his workcover claim through the “no win no fee” contract, as he is not following “reasonable advice” (even though the injured worker believes their advice is far from reasonable).
The “commercial value” of your workcover case depends on many factors, and each case is also different.
The main factors considered are
- the extent of your injury and how it has affected you, or will affect your life, in the past, present and future
- the amount of pain and suffering, past, present and future
- the amount of other damages such as lost wages, medical bills
- the likelihood of winning the case at trial is probably the biggest factor (a “difficult” case to prove will be worth less in settlement value than a straight forward black on white negligence case)
- and, perhaps, the amount of compensation money juries (courts) have awarded to others injured workers with similar injuries, and in the area where your case will be tried (if you go to court).
Will you win your workcover case?
This is the golden question indeed. You lawyer(s) will generally not pursue your workcover case in court (by trial) unless they think you have a very good chance at success. However, even if your lawyer agrees to pursue your case by trial, there are no guarantees of winning the case, or to be awarded more than the settlement offer. There is always a risk involved and even the best lawyers lose cases.
How long will my case take?
The short answer: it depends. It depends first and foremost on how long it takes until you are either completely recovered or you have reached a “plateau” where you will never get any better. A competent lawyer will never suggest that you settle your case before that happens, because doing so reduces the value of your case. Where a significant injury is involved, this may take up to a year or much more. And it is well worth the wait. Settling early means selling yourself short. If the case cannot be settled and must go to trial, the process to get there can take a year or more. But most cases do settle out of court. Be patient. In the meantime, your lawyer will be working hard for you, collecting and analysing your medical records, researching the law relevant to your case, keeping in touch with the workcover insurer, etc.
How soon will my claim be settled?
Well, first of all, your claim might not settle. If the workcover insurance company does not offer you a fair settlement, your lawyer will (or may) advise you to go to trial. The decision as to whether to do so, however, is yours. You may decide you would rather settle than go to trial, even though we tell you the settlement offer is less than fair. Most cases do settle. Remember you should not never settled until your doctor either releases you from treatment or indicates you are not going to get any better ever (this usually means you won’t get better or worse by 3% WPI with or without treatment). At that point, the doctor can give your “prognosis” and a “permanency rating”. It is important to get this prognosis or permanency rating before settling so that your lawyer can ask for compensation not only for your past pain, suffering medical expenses, lost wages, etc., but also for your future pain and suffering and other losses. Your lawyer can’t know what to ask for to compensate your future losses until we know what your doctor says about your future, i.e., your prognosis or permanency rating. Depending on your injury, and how fast you heal, this could be a matter of months or even years.
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