Types of Workers Compensation Settlements – Which Settlement is right for you?
Types of Workers Compensation Settlements
When it comes time to negotiate a settlement for your case, a settlement can be reached in a variety of ways. Deciding on settling can be difficult or it can even be an easy choice depending on your case. You should always consult with an attorney before trying to negotiate a settlement on your own or even settling your case. Each individual case is different than the next and needs to be evaluated on the facts and merits. Therefore, a settlement may not be the same as a relative, friend or acquaintance. Some of the types of workers compensation settlements you may encounter are “to-date” or a “Full, Final and Complete” settlement.
“To-date” Workers Compensation Settlement
This type of workers compensation settlement only resolves issues through the date of settlement or Award on Stipulation. All benefits that are not settled could be claimed in the future.
Full, Final and Complete
In a full, final and complete settlement “FFC”, you agree to give up any claim against the employer and insurer as a result of an injury. This type of workers compensation settlement is a closeout of benefits which typically includes wage loss, permanency, and/or rehabilitation. At times, the settlement may even include future medical. The following is sample language of a FFC settlement:
IT IS STIPULATED AND AGREED that it is the express intention of the parties, by and through this Stipulation for Settlement, to FULLY, FINALLY and COMPLETELY settle all claims (PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE) the Employee has, or may have, for temporary total disability, temporary partial disability, permanent partial disability, permanent impairment, economic recovery compensation, impairment compensation, permanent total disability, monitoring period compensation, RETRAINING/REHABILITATION services including medical expenses.
In the above language, the injured worker would be closing most, if not all, workers’ compensation benefits. Again, it is important to know what you are giving up in exchange for the settlement proceeds.
Language to Include Into a Stipulation for Settlement
Each workers’ compensation case will be different depending on the facts of your case. For example, if you are going to apply for or are receiving social security disability benefits, specific language should be included to protect those benefits. Here are some things to look out for regardless of the type of workers compensation settlement:
- Medicare or potential Medicare benefits in dispute;
- Social security disability benefits or you are applying for SSDI;
- Child support arrears;
- Third party claims or related personal injury claims;
- Long term or short term disability benefits;
- Pension benefits in the future;
- Termination of employment;
- Non-intervening medical providers or health insurance carriers
- Medicare Set-Asides;
- Payment to medical providers;
Stipulations for Settlements can be tricky if you are not experienced and do not know what you are looking for. Sadly, I see many inexperienced lawyers fail to include language into their settlements which would protect their clients’ interest. It is important to have a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer who understands the potential risks and pitfuls of settlement.
Settlements must be Outlined in a Stipulation for Settlement
Once the terms have been agreed upon, the Settlement must be finalized. In order for a Settlement to be valid, it must be approved by a Minnesota Compensation Judge or Mediator/ Arbitrator in limited situations.
I stress the above because many injured workers think they settle their case when they accept a permanent partial disability payment or when they stop treating – that is not true. Again, your workers’ compensation case continues to remain open for the rest of your life, even if an adjuster says it’s closed, unless a settlement is approved by a Judge or a Judge issues a decision stating your injury resolved.
In order for a Judge to approve a settlement, the terms must be put into writing. The settlement terms are typically laid out in a document called a “Stipulation for Settlement.” The Stipulation will contain certain language and will need to be signed by all parties which may include medical providers or third-party payers such as a personal health insurer. Once the document has been drafted and signed by all parties it is submitted to a Minnesota Compensation Judge for approval and issuance of an “Award on Stipulation.” The Award will be signed by the Judge and mailed to all parties. Once the Award has been served and filed, the insurance company must issue payment within 14 days of the award.
The Court will in certain situations following the parties agreeing to a settlement schedule a Stipulation Status Conference. These are held within 45 days of the parties requesting a Conference. This conference is held to keep the settlement documents moving forward toward an award and payment. In the event the paperwork has not been finalized prior to the conference, the parties will need to appear before a Judge and explain why the Stipulation has not been submitted to a Judge. Often times delays occur due to the drafting of the paperwork or dealing with medical providers.
What should you do? Contact Jerry at the Law Office of Thomas Mottaz
Before settling your workers’ compensation case, it is extremely important you know what you are agreeing to settle and the settlement documents mean. The types of workers compensation settlements matter. If you do not have an attorney and are contemplating a settlement offer, it is always a good idea to talk with a lawyer. Jerry is willing to sit down with and discuss your case at no charge. Often times, you can get a better idea of what you are giving up and what you are getting in return. When you meet with Jerry make sure to bring with you all relevant documents and materials.
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