Archive for November, 2019

Pros and Cons of Settling Workers’ Comp Claim in Ohio?

One of the bad things about workers’ compensation is that the pros and cons of settling a claim amount to the same thing. In short, accepting a settlement on outstanding bills and replacement wages ends the case. Depending on your current circumstances and future needs, this can be a positive outcome or a negative one.

The Pros

The way things usually work, accepting a workers’ comp settlement means you receive a lump sum payment in exchange for agreeing to drop all current and future claims related to your present case. This can be a relief, allowing you to clear up current bills and keeping you from going to court to argue for benefits.

The Cons

Work-related injuries and occupational illnesses can cause serious problems throughout a lifetime. Accepting a workers’ comp settlement means you almost definitely will not be able to go back to the program to request coverage for follow-up surgeries, ongoing treatment or additional therapy.

Decide When to Settle

Recognizing when settling is in your best interest requires taking three considerations.

First, the surest way to decide whether the pros of accepting a worker’s comp settlement outweigh the cons is to determine whether you can expect to experience new or worsening symptoms from your work-related injury or occupational illness. If the answer, reached in consultation with your doctors and therapy providers, is no, then settling your case with Ohio Workers’ Compensation often makes sense.

Learning that you will probably need future treatment or ongoing therapy could convince you to keep at least part of your case open. The workers’ comp program lets injured or ill people negotiate partial settlements and petition for a reinstatement of benefits at a later date. For instance, a workplace accident that results in the amputation of a finger can be partially settled to accept a lump sum for the amputation and kept partially open for coverage of reconstructive surgery years later.

After considering future needs, you must factor in your current reality of either having returned to work or receiving a notice that you have achieved what the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation calls “maximum medical improvement.” The workers’ comp program stops approving payments on new medical and therapy bills once you go back to your job or after you reach the point when additional health care interventions will not improve your physical function. Since workers’ comp benefits will end anyway, it makes sense to strongly consider negotiating a lump sum payment on outstanding claims.

A final consideration will be whether you have been approved to receive long-term disability benefits through a program like Social Security Disability Insurance. Being on workers’ comp will not affect your eligibility for SSDI or Supplemental Security Income, but the money paid by the workers’ comp program could lower your federal benefits.

Speaking with a workers’ comp attorney in the Cleveland offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman could help you decide whether to accept a settlement. You can schedule a free consultation online or talk with a lawyer by calling (800) 678-3318.

What Happens After a Deposition in Ohio Personal Injury Case?

A personal injury lawsuit can take multiple paths once attorneys start taking depositions from witnesses, the plaintiff, and the defendant. Some personal injury cases do settle after it seemed obvious that the defendant would insist on their day in court. Other cases resolve via arbitration or mediation, and a handful go all the way through a jury trial.

As personal injury attorneys in Cleveland, we cannot guarantee which way one of our client’s cases will go. We do make sure to keep every client fully informed throughout the process and to explain each of their options as they become available.

What Is a Deposition?

Depositions occur when initial efforts to reach a negotiated settlement fail and an injured victim’s lawyer files a personal injury lawsuit. The number of depositions will depend on how complicated the case is, but the list of people called in to be deposed almost always includes:

  • The plaintiff, who is the person who suffered the injury or the individual who is taking legal action on behalf of a victim who is decease, younger than 18, or too disabled to represent themselves;
  • The defendant, who can be the person who inflicted the injury (such as a driver who caused a crash) or an official from the company named as the defendant (such as a business owner when the case involves a slip and fall); and
  • Expert witnesses, who can include health care providers, independent investigators, economist/accountants, and vocational experts.

During each deposition, lawyers will ask the person being deposed questions based on previous statements and documents that were collected and analyzed during a separate process called discovery. Depositions can last anywhere from an hour to all day with breaks. The question is usually not hostile, just aimed at collecting as many details as possible.

Each session is usually recorded on video, and every deposition is transcribed. When witnesses are called to testify in court, they will be asked to confirm, restate, clarify or expand on what they said during their deposition.

Negotiated Settlements After Depositions

Negotiations over what constitutes a fair and adequate settlement for medical expenses, lost wages, and noneconomic losses such as pain and suffering rarely end when a personal injury lawyer files a lawsuit on behalf of their client. In fact, depositions often convince defendants that they will lose in court and will be better served by settling claims.

Offers to settle can be made and accepted right up until jurors return a verdict. Consulting with their personal injury lawyer will help a plaintiff understand if agreeing to terms proposed by the defendant makes sense.

Arbitration and Mediated Settlements

Judges encourage plaintiffs and defendants to pursue alternative dispute resolution processes like arbitration and mediation because doing so shortens the process and usually saves everyone money on attorney’s fee and court costs. During a mediation, a person who is not a judge brings the plaintiff and defendant together in a room to talk through what each considers a fair outcome. If both sides agree to a solution, then they avoid trial. A mediator cannot force either side to accept a particular outcome.

Arbitration is more formal than mediation, and arbitrators are often empowered to decide a case in favor of the plaintiff or the defendant. During the arbitration hearing, lawyers for each side present summaries of their best evidence. Limited questioning of witnesses may be allowed. Following the hearing, the arbitrator issues a decision. Grounds for appealing the arbitrator’s decision, if they exist at all, are extremely limited.

Jury Trials After Depositions

A trial will generally be scheduled to start months after depositions are completed. As noted, a witness’s deposition will be key to their testimony in court, but lawyers from each side can ask other questions. Not every person who gives a deposition will be called as a witness, and only the portions of a deposition that a lawyer considers very convincing to jurors will come up at trial.

Personal injury attorneys in the Cleveland, Ohio, offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman have decades of experience in conducting depositions, mediations, arbitrations, and jury trials in personal injury cases. Call us at (800) 678-3318 or schedule an appointment online to let us know how we can help you.

Cleveland OH Workers Comp Lawyer
Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman
6100 Oak Tree Blvd., Suite 200, Cleveland Ohio 44131 USA
Tel: (216) 328-2125 Fax: (614) 221-7308 Map