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What is a lump sum and is it right for me?

In the workers' compensation context, a lump sum is a payment that you receive one time. It replaces your weekly workers' compensation benefit checks. There is a lot to consider when deciding whether or not to give up your weekly checks in favor of a lump sum, and a judge will try to determine if a lump sum payment is in your best interest. It may be helpful to consider whether you are able to return to your job, if you have ongoing medical issues from your injuries, your current income, and how accepting a lump sum will affect your ability to pay for future medical expenses related to your injuries.

It is important to know that accepting a lump sum payment does not disallow you from returning to your job. However, you are presumed to be unable to work for one month for every $1,500 you receive in your settlement. Yet, if you decide to switch employers, then you can return to work as quickly as you would like.

Accepting a lump sum will close your workers' compensation case, and you will be unable to file a claim for that same injury resulting from the same accident. It does not, however, affect any future claim that may arise from another accident and another injury, whether at your current employer or another.

The workers' compensation process can be complicated and difficult for an injured worker to navigate. Potential issues like lump sum settlements can leave you unsure of what to do and how to protect your best interests. Therefore, it might be helpful to consult with a legal professional who knows how to fight for what you deserve, which may include compensation for lost wages and medical expenses.

Source: Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents, "Lump Sum Brochure," accessed on Dec. 19, 2014

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