Is a Lump-Sum Settlement for Your Defense Base Act Claim the Best Decision for You?
If you have a Defense Base Act case you have probably thought about settling the case or how to settle your case. It’s a natural thought. At the end of the day you should be asking yourself, “How can I get the most money for my DBA case?”
You might not be there today or even tomorrow, but at some point you might consider settling your DBA case.
The main way that Defense Base Act cases are resolved is by what are called 8(i) settlements. The “8(i)” refers to the section of the law that concerns the settlement of claims. Generally, with an 8(i) settlement you are settling all aspects of your Defense Base Act claim for a lump-sum payment. Not always, by usually.
Once you settle your case - and the settlement has been approved by the Department of Labor, the settlement is final. You can’t come back in a few years and get more money because you discovered that you have more problems or disability than you had previously. In other words, it sort of like what you read when you buy something at a retail sale: all sales are final and no returns are allowed.
But first I digress - your credibility is a huge factor
One of the biggest factors that will determine whether you should settle your case is whether you have credibility issues. That is, will the DBA insurance company lawyer be able to poke holes in your case based upon your truthfulness. This is why it is so important for you to always tell the truth. Always. Don't fudge, don't exaggerate about anything.
Have you fallen for one of the DBA insurance company tricks or traps? What I see happen again and again is good honest folks falling for the tricks and traps that the insurance company uses to try to tank your case. My book - Win Your Defense Base Act Case will help you avoid these tricks and traps.
Also, don't lose sight of your lack of objectivity on your own credibility. You need to step back and try to take the emotion and anger that many people feel when they have a valid claim, to be viewed as being not credible because they fell for one of the tricks or traps that the DBA insurance company will try and trip you up with.
You have two options
“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
At the end of the day - you have two ways to proceed with the disability benefits (read: money) part of your Defense Base Act claim. You can settle with a lump sum settlement or you can receive weekly compensation benefits.
At the end of the day, when you simplify it - there are two benefits under the Defense Base Act - weekly compensation benefits and medical treatment benefits.
A lump sum settlement
A lump sum settlement is where the DBA insurance company pays you one amount of money in order to settle all of the issues in your case. Sometimes a lump-sum settlement is used to settle part of your case. But most settlements, settle or finalize all the issues in your DBA case.
Click here for an article on: How to Tell If a Defense Base Act Settlement Is Reasonable
A weekly disability payment
Under the Defense Base Act, you are entitled to weekly disability benefits. The two main types are “TTD” or temporary total disability benefits or PD permanent disability benefits. This can be PTD or permanent total disability benefits or PPD permanent partial disability benefits.
Click here for more information on permanent disability for an unscheduled injury.
I realize I am being a little simplistic here and I explain all of this in more depth in my 5 Star book - Win Your Defense Base Act case.
Click here for the 5 Star amazon.com reviews of my book.
The Judge can only award you a weekly benefit
The important point that you need to understand is that if you take your case to trial, the Judge can only award you a weekly disability benefit. If the Judge finds that you were unpaid or underpaid the weekly disability benefit that you will receive a lump-sum when the Judge issues an order awarding benefits (assuming you win your trial). Meaning, you will get the number of weeks of underpaid or unpaid compensation that the Judge awards you.
The Judge can’t award you a lump sum for your case. So, if and when you take your case to trial - you will be receiving a weekly compensation amount. And if the Judge finds you have a permanent disability - then the Judge can award an ongoing weekly benefit amount. You should also know there is a difference between a scheduled injury and an unscheduled injury.
The Judge, you and/or your lawyer can’t force the DBA insurance company to offer you a lump sum settlement
No one can force the DBA insurance company to offer you a lump sum settlement or a certain amount for a lump sum settlement. Your attorney may be able to persuade the DBA insurance company to offer more money for a lump sum settlement. But, the important part here is no one can force the insurance company to do so.
Your only options are usually to:
(1) Accept the lump sum that the insurance company is offering,
(2) try and convince the insurance company to offer more, or
(3) Accept the weekly amount that is being paid.
(4) If you are entitled to a larger weekly amount, then you can take your case to trial and try and get the Judge to award a higher weekly amount.
That really is the extent of your options.
In essence, you need to decide whether you would rather continue to receive a weekly compensation benefit (or, if you aren’t receiving any weekly compensation benefits currently, to continue with your case and try to receive weekly compensation benefit) or settle you case with a lump sum settlement.
This is your “fork in the road.”
Do you want to bet on yourself or against yourself
What I mean by this is are you better off taking the weekly benefit or the lump sum settlement?
If you have an unscheduled injury (back, neck, internal, PTSD) then the value of your claim is based on your loss of wage earning capacity. I explain this a little bit better in this article. Go to this article and come back here after you read it.
Click here for more information on permanent disability for an unscheduled injury.
Click here for more information on a nonscheduled injuries and wage loss concept.
The way this works is the DBA insurance company is going to get a Labor Market Survey in order to determine you wage earning capacity. Go here to read about Labor Market Surveys.
The Judge is are going to compare your overseas civilian earnings with the what you can earn now. The Judge will consider your physical disabilities, education, experience, etc.
All this ties into your average weekly wage. Click here for an article on average weekly wage (AWW).
All of this results in your current loss of wage earning capacity.
What I mean by “are you willing to bet on yourself” is this: can you earn more than this in the future? If you think you can, than you may be better off accepting a lump sum settlement.
What else is involved?
Of course, there is more to all of this than just this “betting on yourself” part.
Do you want to put all of this behind you?
Do you want to have to depend on the DBA insurance company actually sending you a weekly disability check for the rest of your life? Knowing they can, and regularly do, stop folks weekly checks for no apparent reason.
Do you need the lump sum money in order to get back on your feet again? That is, what are your current financial needs?
Another factor is what future medical treatment you will need and cost of the medical treatment? Do you have other means to get the medical treatment. For example, do you have access to medical treatment because of your current work or your spouses insurance?
Do you want to have to rely on the DBA insurance company providing your medical treatment? In many cases, the DBA insurance company will make it extremely difficult for you to get timely and needed medical treatment.
Do you not want to go through a full blown trial where you know the DBA attorney is going to attack your character and credibility?
Have you weighed all of medical evidence, other evidence? Meaning, have you weighed the pros and cons of whether you will actually win your case?
Know this, the “best” cases tend to settle. This is probably why so many DBA cases lose at trial. You have to realize that in a large percentage of DBA cases, the Judge rules in favor of the insurance company.
Another factor to consider is, who is the Judge? Some Judges find for the Claimant (read: the person bring the DBA claim) more often than other Judges. Some Judges tend to deny claims more often than other Judges. Not all Judges are equal.
Are there legal issues which may affect the outcome of your claim?
What is the law that will apply to your case? Different case law applies to different Circuit Courts of Appeal. For example, generally if your case is venued in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals the case law is generally more favorable to Claimants than some other Circuit Courts of Appeal.
All of these questions and your answers may result in you coming to the conclusion that taking a lump sum settlement is better for you. Or in the alternative - you may come to the conclusion that you are better off receiving a weekly compensation benefit.
Get good help
Putting yourself in the best possible position to get the best result possible for your DBA case is what my book - Win Your Defense Base Act Case is all about. Read the 5 Star reviews of the book on amazon.com here.
I suggest you get your free copy from this website. Or you can Order the book through amazon.com, and pay for it if you like also. By getting the book and reading it and following all of the ways you can avoid the tricks and traps laid by the insurance company is the very best way to getting the best result possible for your case.
My book explains how to find and hire the best DBA lawyer for your case
Even if you decide to handle this yourself, you want to be as well prepared as possible. As a start, I suggest you read the opening chapters of my book, Win Your Defense Base Act Case: The Ultimate Straight Talk.
Disclaimer: Please understand these discussions and/or examples are not legal advice. All legal situations are different. This testimonial, endorsement and/or discussion does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter, your particular case/ situation and/or this particular case/ situation.