You have the right to file an appeal for a workers’ compensation claim that your employer’s insurance company did not approve. A California workers’ comp attorney represents you by filing an “application for adjudication of claim.” Just a small number of workers’ comp appeals reach the litigation stage. Most appeals end up getting settled when the lawyers representing both sides in a dispute negotiate a deal.
Should You Settle Your Claim?
You should decide whether to settle your workers’ compensation claim by leaning on the legal advice presented by your attorney. Settling a workers’ compensation claim makes sense if the settlement is in your best financial interests. Sometimes, a claim is backed up by insufficient medical evidence, which means a settlement might be the best way to receive financial assistance. Settling a claim out of court also might make sense if you need the money right away to pay bills and/or you do not want to spend the time required to litigate your case.
Type of Workers’ Compensation Settlements
California law allows for two methods of settling workers’ comp disputes. Your lawyer can help you determine which of the two methods works best for your claim.
Compromise and Release
Compromise and release means that you agree to close out your case in return for a lump-sum payment. Going this route prevents you from collecting money for future medical expenses, which can be significant for recovering from a serious injury. You cannot reopen your claim if your medical condition worsens. For example, accepting a compromise and release settlement for someone who suffers from work-related carpal tunnel syndrome might not be a prudent financial decision because the painful symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome often linger for months, if not years.
Stipulated Finding and Award
A stipulated finding and award settlement gives you biweekly payments instead of a lump sum. Your attorney and the attorney representing your employer’s insurance company strike a deal that defines the extent of your permanent disability and the amount of your biweekly benefits. The insurance company agrees to pay for qualified future medical expenses, as well as allow you to reopen your case within five years if your medical condition deteriorates.
Getting a Workers’ Compensation Settlement Approved
If you settle with your employer’s insurance company, a California workers’ compensation judge must approve the settlement. Your lawyer files the proper paperwork with the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board that describes the terms of the settlement. The judge deciding on your proposed settlement holds an informal hearing to ensure both parties understand the terms of the agreement. A worker’s comp judge also confirms that the terms of the deal are fair to both parties. If a workers’ compensation judge approves the proposed settlement, then you should receive either a biweekly or lump sum payment within 30 days of the decision.
The Importance of Working with an Experienced Employment Attorney
The insurance company representing your employer might pressure you to agree to a less than favorable settlement. By working with a California-licensed workers’ compensation lawyer, you can learn how much your claim is worth and whether you should accept biweekly payments or a one-time-only deposit into your bank account. If you receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), your attorney can save you money by minimizing the impact workers’ compensation has on your SSDI benefits.
Schedule a free case evaluation with a workers’ compensation lawyer at the PLBSH Law Firm. You can reach us by calling (800) 435-7542.