• Resources
  •   >  Workers compensation
Workers compensationSettlements

When Will Workers' Comp Offer a Settlement?

Written by
A drawing of the lead workers' compensation lawyer for Atticus.
Victoria Muñoz
Lead Attorney
Published June 28, 2023
Updated May 10, 2024
4 min read
Why trust us?

Atticus offers free, high-quality workers' compensation advice to those injured at work. Our team of Stanford and Harvard trained lawyers has a combined 15+ years of legal experience, and help thousands of Americans get the benefits they deserve each year.

See if you qualify

If you got injured or sick at work, you’re not alone. Private companies in the United States reported 2.8 million workplace injuries last year.1 State workers’ comp insurance can provide payment for lost wages and medical bills, but you may also receive a lump-sum settlement offer instead of regular benefits.

You can negotiate a settlement on your own, but that quickly becomes complicated. Insurance wants to pay as little possible, but you need to ensure you get enough to cover all current and future expenses related to your injury.

Let's look at how workers’ comp settlements work, when you might get one, and what your options are if you receive an offer.

What is a worker’s comp settlement?

A settlement is an offer from the workers' comp insurance company to pay you a set amount of money instead of regular medical and wage benefits. A settlement is usually one lump-sum payment, but you may also have the option for a structured payment plan. When you agree to a settlement, your workers' comp claim is closed and you receive the settlement in their place.

Not all workers’ comp cases end in a settlement, but many do. How much you get also depends on your workplace injury, the workers’ comp laws in your state, and other factors that we discuss below.

When will workers’ comp offer a settlement?

You can receive a settlement offer at any point in the process, but settlements commonly happen around the time you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). At this stage, you and the insurer have a better idea of whether you could need long-term benefit payments, how much more medical care you’ll receive, and how much treatment will cost.

In some cases, a settlement offer could also come very early in the process. Giving you one lump-sum payment early on is much simpler for an insurer than navigating months of payments and medical care. Early settlements also protect the insurer in case you have unexpected symptoms or setbacks during treatment.

Another factor that can impact when you get a settlement is the time of year. Some insurance companies (or even workers’ comp lawyers) will push to settle before the end of the calendar year in order to get the settlement contract on their books for the upcoming tax season.

Related: Average Workers' Comp Settlements by Body Part

How to respond to a settlement offer

Once you get a settlement offer, you have three possible actions to choose from:

  1. Accept the settlement as offered (least common).

  2. Negotiate the settlement amount (most common).

  3. Reject the settlement and continue benefits (not always possible).

The first settlement offer from insurance is rarely the best payout you could possibly get. The insurance company will be looking to maximize its own profits, and generally has it's own team of lawyers who decide the lowest offer it can make.

Even if you want to accept a settlement, it’s important to pause and double check whether it’s enough to cover your current medical bills, future medical expenses related to your injury, and the money you’ll need to pay for housing, food, and all other bills while you’re out of work.

We recommend connecting with a workers' comp lawyer for help negotiating a fairer deal.

Settle your workers' comp claim today.

When should I get a lawyer for my settlement?

If you've received a settlement offer, a workers' comp lawyer can negotiate a much larger settlement. Since an experienced lawyer has helped workers in similar situations, they’ll understand how to estimate your future medical costs and how much income you could lose because of your injury.

On average, the settlement for workers with an Atticus lawyer is twice as high as people who don't have a lawyer.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with accepting a settlement offer and you don’t need a lawyer. But it's important to make sure the settlement is enough to cover all your current and upcoming expenses. The last thing you want is to accept an offer because it sounds fair, only to realize a few months later that your medical bills are higher than expected and you need to either go into debt or try returning to work while still injured.

Further reading: 7 Situations When A Workers' Comp Lawyer Can Help

How much does a workers’ comp lawyer cost?

Finding an affordable lawyer is easier than you think. Atticus workers’ comp lawyers all offer a free consultation and don't charge anything upfront.

There is a one-time lawyer fee, which you only pay after you get your settlement. The fee you pay varies by state, but the average workers' comp lawyer fee is between 15% and 30%. And while that can be a lot, the average settlement with an Atticus lawyer is twice as high as what you'd get on your own, so you're still making significant money even after the fee.

To get started, fill out our workers’ comp questionnaire or call us at the number below. Our team will reach out to learn more about your situation, answer your questions, and connect you with a lawyer who's a good fit for your case.

Get workers' comp help today.

6 Factors that affect your settlement

The following six factors will impact your settlement amount and timing.

  1. The severity of your injury or illness: The insurance company may be more motivated to settle if it looks like your recovery will last months or years. An injury that’s more severe or involves an unpredictable recovery will also lead to a higher settlement value because it needs to cover more medical bills and more weeks of lost wages.

  2. The treatments you receive: Certain treatments can increase or decrease your potential payout. For example, a surgery that improves your symptoms could lower your payment, while a surgery with complications could raise it. (Learn more about how surgery affects settlements.)

  3. Where you live: Workers’ comp laws vary by state and your state may have more guidance on how much insurers should pay for certain injuries. Learn more about how much workers' comp pays in every state in 2024.

  4. Appeals and denials: Your claim can take much longer to settle if the insurer denies your workers’ comp claim or appeals your benefit amount. Both of these scenarios could lead to some sort of mediation or court hearing to confirm that you should even get benefits. In this case, your settlement may also cover the payments you've missed so far.

  5. Your disability rating or impairment rating: As you reach maximum medical improvement, your doctor will do an assessment to give you a disability rating or an impairment rating. These ratings use a scale of between 1% and 100% to define how much your disability impacts your ability to work or function. A 100% rating would mean total disability, whereas a 50% rating would mean you’ve lost 50% of functionality in the affected part of your body. A higher rating often leads to a higher payment.

  6. Your lawyer’s, mediator’s, or judge’s opinions: During a settlement negotiation, your employer’s insurer can debate all of the factors above to limit how much you get. Your lawyer will advocate for the highest settlement possible by making a case for you (so finding a good workers’ comp lawyer really helps). If your settlement goes to mediation or court, the opinions of the mediator or judge will also affect how much you get. A lawyer will also know how to build a convincing case to a judge.

How long does a settlement take?

Unfortunately, there is no one answer that applies to every situation. Smaller settlements could take a few weeks to work out while larger settlements could take two years or more. A safe estimate for many people could be at least one year to complete a settlement, but you’ll get a much more accurate estimate from a lawyer who knows your claim details.

Getting a settlement may take longer with a lawyer, but ultimately you're still getting more. A lawyer will also work around your personal situation to make sure you're getting proper benefits in the short-term while you aren't working.

How long after a settlement will I get paid?

Most people will need to wait at least a month or two for their payout, but that depends on where you live, the size of your payment, and the other details of your settlement. A lawyer can provide a more precise answer.

Get help with your settlement

The best way to get personalized advice on your settlement is by talking with a lawyer. They’ll know your local laws and can help you negotiate for the benefits you deserve so you can get back to work and move on with your life.

Atticus is a law firm with lawyer across the country, and we can match you with an experienced lawyer in your area. To get your questions answered and connect with a lawyer today, fill out our intake quiz or call us at the number below. Getting matched is free, your first consultation is free, and the lawyer won’t charge anything up front.

Get workers' comp help today.

Frequently asked questions about workers’ comp settlements

Do all workers’ comp cases end in a settlement?

Not all workers’ comp cases end in a settlement, but many do. Claims that will continue after you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) may especially lead to a settlement. Injuries with short recovery times are less likely to result in a settlement, but you can still request one.

Should I accept a workers’ comp settlement?

We recommend getting a lawyer’s opinion before you make any decision related to a workers’ comp settlement. It’s important that you negotiate enough to cover your current and future medical expenses, plus enough to cover your other bills when you’re out of work. Knowing how much to ask for and how to negotiate for the highest amount are things a lawyer can help you with.

Which body part has the highest value in a workers' comp claim?

Head, spine, and central nervous system injuries have the highest average workers' comp payouts, but your exact injury makes a big difference. For example, an eye injury that keeps you out work for a week but heals fully won't be worth as much as an eye injury that results in blindness. Try our workers' comp body part selector tool for more on average settlements.

How much does workers’ comp pay if I don’t settle?

People on workers’ comp receive payments equal to a percentage of the wages they earned before their injury (usually two-thirds). Here’s how much workers’ comp pays by state.

How long after a workers’ comp settlement do I get paid?

You should plan to wait at least one to three months after a settlement before you actually get your payment, but that timeline depends on multiple factors. Your lawyer or the insurance company will have a more specific answer for your settlement.

Does surgery increase a workers' comp settlement?

It depends. Surgery could decrease or increase your potential settlement depending on how much it improves your symptoms and whether you experience complications. You can learn more in our breakdown of surgery and workers’ comp settlements.

Are workers’ comp settlements taxable?

No, workers’ comp settlements aren’t taxable. Other workers’ comp benefits aren’t taxable either, with rare exceptions.

Find a local workers' comp lawyer









New Jersey

New York

North Carolina



South Carolina




Related resources:

Does Surgery Increase Your Workers’ Comp Settlement?

Average Workers’ Comp Settlements by Body Part

See what you qualify for

How long ago did you get an injury or illness at work?


  1. 1.
    Bureau of Labor Statistics, Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities,” U.S. Department of Labor, accessed January 26, 2024, https://www.bls.gov/iif/.
A drawing of the lead workers' compensation lawyer for Atticus.

Victoria Muñoz

Lead Attorney

Victoria Muñoz is an attorney on Atticus’s Workers' Compensation team. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of Stanford Law School, and has counseled hundreds of people seeking workers' compensation. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and spending time with her pup.
About Us
  • Mission
  • Careers

At the bottom of many websites, you'll find a small disclaimer: "We are not a law firm and are not qualified to give legal advice." If you see this, run the other way. These people can't help you: they're prohibited by law from giving meaningful advice, recommending specific lawyers, or even telling you whether you need a lawyer at all.

There’s no disclaimer here: Atticus is a law firm, and we are qualified to give legal advice. We can answer your most pressing questions, make clear recommendations, and search far and wide to find the right lawyer for you.

Two important things to note: If we give you legal advice, it will be through a lawyer on our staff communicating with you directly. (Don't make important decisions about your case based solely on this or any other website.) And if we take you on as a client, it will be through a document you sign. (No attorney-client relationship arises from using this site or calling us.)

  • This website is lawyer advertising.
  • Cal. Bar #23984
  • © 2024 Atticus Law, P.C.

Terms | Privacy | California Privacy | Disclaimer