CAN I SETTLE MY LONGSHORE CLAIM FOR A LUMP SUM AMOUNT OF MONEY?
Under the Longshore Act there is a lump sum settlement process. This is described under 33 U.S.C.A. 908(i) of the Longshore Act. A lump sum settlement is commonly referred to as an 8(i) settlement. In order to receive an 8(i) settlement, your employer or its insurance company must voluntarily agree to such a settlement. There is no way to force your employer to pay you future compensation benefits or money for future medical expenses unless your employer voluntarilies agrees to an 8(i) settlement. Additionally, the Department of Labor is required to approve and “sign off” on any 8(i) settlements in order for them to be binding.
There are many advantages to entering into an 8(i) settlement for your future compensation benefits and/or medical benefits. First, such a settlement will typically provide you with the largest single payment that you would ever be able to receive in regard to your longshore claim. In other words, it provides you with the greatest amount of recovery at any single time. This is because your 8(i) settlement typically involves a settlement of all of your employer’s exposure or obligation to pay compensation and/or medical benefits to you. Additionally, an 8(i) settlement can very often provide you with compensation and/or medical benefits quicker than the regular Department of Labor process for resolving claims with an Administrative Law Judge. If you are able to obtain a reasonable 8(i) settlement from your employer, typically the settlement and paperwork can be completed within 60 days. This includes the “waiting period” after the 8(i) has been submitted to the Department of Labor pending approval from the Department of Labor.
Before even considering any type of 8(i) settlement, it is critical that you speak with an experienced longshore attorney. A longshore attorney can advise you as to whether the proposed 8(i) is fair and reasonable based upon your rights to compensation and medical benefits.