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Settling vs. taking a case to trial in florida’s worker’s compensation system

When injured on the job, navigating the Worker’s Compensation system in Florida can be quite a daunting task.  One of the most crucial decisions is whether to settle or take the case to trial (commonly referred to as a Final Merits Hearing).   Keep in mind, if the case proceeds to trial, a Judge cannot award a monetary settlement rather medical or indemnity benefits.  Regardless, either path has its own advantages and disadvantages, and understanding these can help one make an educated decision.

Understanding Worker’s Compensation in Florida

Florida’s Worker’s Compensation system is designed to provide benefits to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses.  These benefits include medical treatment, indemnity benefits, and last but not least compensation for permanent impairments. However, obtaining the aforementioned can be complex and sometimes contentious, leading to disputes between injured workers and their employers/insurance companies.

What is a Settlement?

A settlement is an agreement between the injured worker and the employer’s insurance company.  When a settlement is entered into, one is essentially receiving a lump sum dollar amount, in exchange for closing the case, and waiving any rights to future claims related to the injury.  

Some Advantages of Settling

  1. Certainty and Closure: Settling provides a definitive end to the legal process, allowing one to move on without the uncertainty of a trial outcome.
  2. Control Over Outcome: the injured worker is involved in the negotiation of the settlement terms.
  3. Less Stressful: The process of negotiating a settlement can be less adversarial and stressful compared to a trial.
  4. Financial Situation: Immediate financial needs might make a quicker settlement more appealing.

Some Disadvantages of Settling

  1. No Future Claims: Once the case settles, it is a complete divorce – the case cannot be reopened nor can additional claims related to the injury be made.
  2. Medical Coverage: A lump-sum settlement ends all authorized medical care related to the work accident.

Taking Your Case to Trial If And Only If There Are Outstanding Claimsgavelsmaller-1

When negotiations fail, and there are claims that have not been resolved, taking the case to trial is the next step.  In Florida, this involves presenting the case before a Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC), who will make a decision based on the evidence presented.  The judge’s authority over your Worker’s Compensation claim is limited to issues of medical care and lost wages payable for injuries on the job. Remember, a judge CANNOT award a monetary settlement rather rule on outstanding medical and indemnity claims.

Advantages of Going to Trial

  1. Potential for Higher Indemnity Compensation:  Trials can result in higher indemnity awards, if and only if indemnity is at issue and the Judge rules in the injured worker’s favor.
  2. Comprehensive Review: The trial process allows for a thorough examination of the outstanding issues, including testimony and evidence which might support a ruling in favor of a medical and/or indemnity benefit.

Disadvantages of Going to Trial

  1. Lengthy Process: Trials can be time-consuming, often taking months or even years to resolve.
  2. Uncertainty: There’s no guarantee of a favorable outcome.
  3. Stress and Emotional Toll: The trial process can be stressful and emotionally draining, involving depositions, hearings, and possibly appeals.
  4. A Judge Cannot Award a monetary settlement.


Deciding whether to settle or take a Worker’s Compensation case to trial in Florida is a  decision that can have long-term consequences.  Each option has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, and the best choice depends on specific circumstances, including the severity of the injury, financial needs, and the long-term health outlook.  The decision to accept a settlement offer and settle your claim is entirely your decision. Consulting with a knowledgeable Worker’s Compensation attorney can provide crucial guidance and help ensure that one makes the best possible decision for  the future.

If you have questions, or would like additional information, call one of our dedicated and experienced Worker’s Compensation attorneys at Jo Ann Hoffman & Associates, P.A., 954-772-2644 for a FREE consultation.  Helping the Injured is Our Passion!®

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