“When I seek out professional advice, I don’t want B.S. I want it straight up, with no double talk. I figure do also. I always use plain English, with no sugarcoating no B.S lawyer talk, and no double talk- just old fashioned, unsweetened, unvarnished truth-just the way that I would want it.” -Bill Turley
Am I getting low-balled on my DBA settlement?
Most Defense Base Act cases are resolved with a settlement, rather than through litigation. This is because at almost any point during your case, You (or your attorney) can make a deal with DBA insurance company to settle your case. Hoprfully, to get you the best deal considering the circumstances of your case.
Most folks are concerned about getting a reasonable or fair settlement. What is "reasonable" or "fair" depends on a lot of different factors. Based on what I see, at some point you may be faced with a difficult decision. Rarely will the DBA insurance company agree to pay anything close to what you may receive based upon them value of your claim if you play out the math, so to speak.
Then you are going to have to decide whether you want to be in it for the long haul or settle your case for what is being offered by the DBA insurance company. I tell clients that they either have to bet for themselves or against themselves.Not an easy question.
In the simplest terms, this means that do you think that you can do better over the course of your life in regards to earning wages than the weekly payout that you may receive from your DBA case?
Of course, there are many factors that go into this. Are you fed up with having to deal with the insurance company? Are you ready to move on with your life? Do you have other means to get medical treatment? If not, how much (i.e., what is the value of your future medical treatment?
Based on what I see, at any moment the DBA insurance company can stop your weekly compensation benefits. All they have to do is file a LS-207 - Notice of Controversion. You need to be thinking/planning ahead for this, and understand that they cut folks off, for no good reason, all the time.
Any settlement you accept must be approved by either the Department of Labor or the Administrative Law Judge. The Department of Labor claims examiner or the judge will use a number of factors to decide if the Defense Base Act settlement is reasonable, including:
- Medical records. Your medical records are key to proving your Defense Base Act claim, so it is vital that you get treated for your injuries as soon as possible and continue to receive ongoing medical treatment. The judge in your case will examine your injuries and disabilities carefully and decide whether you have any impairment ratings that will qualify you for benefits.
- The relative strength of your medical records. The better written and reasoned medical reports you have that lay out your injury, your disability and how your disability was caused by and/or contributed to by your being overseas is crucial.
- The relative strength of the insurance company's doctor's opinions and/or report. The insurance company likes to call their hired doctor an "IME." Which stands for Independent Medical Examination. Which would be a joke, other than it is being used to take food off of you and your family's table. There is nothing independent about it. It is essentially a doctor that has been hired by the insurance company to poke holes in your medical evidence. One of the key factors in determining the value of your case is comparing your doctors medical opinions with the insurance company doctor's opinions. That is, evaluating the medical evidence. It is, most likely, what the Judge is going to do in order to determine whether you win or lose.
- Loss of wage earning capacity. The court will examine whether you have returned to work on a full- or part-time basis, or if there is other work that you can perform with your injuries.
- Disputed issues. Any disputed facts in your case could potentially result in a lower settlement. If you and your employer disagree with any points, it is vital that you have as much evidence on your side to convince a judge of your account of the story.
- Your credibility. I say it again and again - nothing is more important than your credibility. Nothing else is even close. You can have the best medical evidence, the best witnesses, the best incident reports and all of that may not matter if the Judge doesn't believe you. This is why I preach like a mantra - "Always tell the truth."
- Stipulations vs. Settlement. You and the DBA insurance company may enter stipulations or a agree to a settlement. Examples of common stipulations include whether a person is eligible to receive ongoing or future medical benefits and agree to a weekly amount per week. These are much less common. With a settlement you will be paid a lump sum for a permanent impairment rating.
No simple formula
I'd like to tell you that there is a simple formula for figuring all of this out. But there isn't. It all has to be evaluated and sifted through. It's one of the reasons why you need to find the best, honest DBA lawyer that will agree to take your case.
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This why I strongly suggest that you put the majority of your efforts into finding and hiring the best honest DBA lawyer. I tell you how to do this in my book.
How Soon Could You Receive Your Defense Base Act Settlement?
After the court approves your settlement, your employer and insurance carrier has 10 days to issue the compensation to you. If you do not receive the payment within the 10-day period, your employer can face an additional penalty up to 20 percent of the amount you are owed.
I encourage you to download a free copy of our guide, Win Your Defense Base Act Case, to find out more about what steps to take next.