Every workers’ compensation claim resolves differently depending on the goals of the injured worker. There are three main ways to resolve a workers’ compensation claim: Compromise & Release, Stipulation and Request for Award, and Findings and Award. An injured worker should discuss these goals with a worker’s compensation attorney during the pendency of the claim to determine the method of resolution that works best. However, sometimes a workers comp lawyer cannot control how the case resolves as various factors can affect the settlement.
COMPROMISE & RELEASE
A Compromise & Release (C&R) is a lump sum settlement. In this type of settlement, most employers require an injured worker to voluntarily resign. This type of agreement settles out the applicant’s permanent disability, future medical care and all temporary disability benefits owed (see Kesh Law – What Is Permanent and Stationary Defined From A Los Angeles Workers Compensation Lawyer for an explanation of permanent disability, future medical care, and temporary disability). In this type of settlement, any future treatment of compensable body parts will be procured by the applicant and releases the employer and carrier from liability. This type of settlement is appropriate when an injured worker is given permanent work restrictions by a doctor. Permanent work restrictions are work limitations recommended by a doctor to prevent further injury.
Once Permanent Work Restrictions are in place by a doctor, an employer has 60 days to do an American Disability Act assessment. This is an interactive process between an injured worker and the employer working together to find a solution. The employer would need to be able to accommodate the work restrictions without undue hardship. If the applicant’s employer cannot accommodate those restrictions, it is best for the applicant to resolve the worker’s compensation claim by way of C&R. An injured worker would also be given a job displacement voucher worth up to $6,000 to help the applicant with job retraining in this situation. (see the section Supplemental Job Displacement Voucher from the article Kesh Law – What Is Permanent And Stationary Defined From A Los Angeles Workers Compensation Lawyer)
STIPULATION & REQUEST FOR AWARD
I am often asked by my clients, “can I get a settlement from workers comp if I go back to work?” The short answer is yes. However, the type of settlement will be different in this situation. An injured worker who wishes to still work for their employer would resolve their case by way of Stipulation & Request for Award. This means that the applicant will receive payments from the carrier/employer until the permanent disability amount is reached.
In this situation, the applicant will receive biweekly payments calculated based on their wages, from the date the applicant is declared permanent and stationary by a doctor until the money runs out. Under this method of case resolution, an injured workers’ future medical care will remain open. This means that the carrier will pay for treatment to body parts that are found compensable by the worker’s compensation system until the case is closed, i.e. the future medical is resolved by C&R. However, the injured worker will need to obtain treatment for compensable body parts within the carrier’s medical provider network.
In this type of settlement, if the injured worker wishes, they can close out their future medical care by Compromise & Release. This means that any future treatment sought for compensable body parts will be paid by the injured worker, out of pocket.
FINDINGS AND AWARD
If you find yourself asking, “why is my worker’s comp case going to trial?” It is because the parties cannot agree on a lump sum settlement amount or a Permanent Disability percentage to resolve by way of Stipulation by Request for Award, thus, the case will go to trial.
Depending on the fact of the case, the odds of winning a workers comp case will be different. (see Kesh Law – Will You Win Your Worker’s Compensation Case).
When a case goes to trial, the case is essentially going to be resolved by way of Stipulation and Request for Award. At trial, the Judge will decide the correct permanent disability rating and temporary disability benefits owed and issue a Findings and Award.
PETITION TO REOPEN
If an injured worker’s case has been resolved by way of Stipulation and Request for Award or Findings and Award, the injured worker may be able to file a Petition to Reopen. In order to be eligible for a Petition to reopen, the injured worker must be within 5 years of the date of injury originally filed. This petition should include an explanation of why the case should be reopened based on new and further disability. Contact a workers comp lawyer to determine if you are eligible to file a Petition to Reopen.
Contact your local worker’s compensation law firm, Kesh Law, for a free consultation.