When your workers’ compensation claim is resolved, you are likely to experience a great sense of relief as you have either reached recovery from your injury or you’re no longer living within the limitations of the CA workers’ comp system. Depending on the manner in which your case was settled, there may still be some work to be done.
STIPULATION VS. COMPROMISE & RELEASE SETTLEMENTS
Generally speaking, there are two ways a workers’ compensation case is settled: with future medical care left open or, alternatively, reaching a buyout of all benefits including future medical care. The former may be called a Stipulation (or Findings, if the matter proceeded to trial and the judge issued an opinion) while the latter is referred to as a Compromise & Release (“C&R”).
A STIPULATION WORKERS’ COMPENSATION SETTLEMENT
When a Stipulation is reached, the parties are agreeing to a level of permanent disability based on a doctor’s report and a lifetime award of future medical care for the industrially injured body part(s) is signed by the WCAB Judge. Whatever remaining permanent disability benefits are owed to you will be paid out in a bi-weekly fashion until the amount of the award is exhausted. The carrier/administrator is required to commence these payments to the injured worker within 30 days of the award signed by the WCAB Judge.
It is very important to remember that with a Stipulation, future medical care is left open for life. So, should complaints ever develop regarding the body part(s), treatment is available with a doctor in the workers’ comp system. If treatment is needed following a Stipulation and five (5) years have not passed since the date of injury, an injured worker may reopen a claim with the WCAB for new and further disability. This is significant because reopening a claim can increase the permanent disability award, make available any unused weeks of temporary disability benefits and document any additional body parts that are now claimed.
COMPROMISE AND RELEASE WORKERS’ COMPENSATION SETTLEMENT
A C&R, on-the-other-hand, is a lump sum buyout settlement which generally encompasses all issues, disputed or not, from the workers’ compensation claim. Since this resolves all issues, future medical care benefits are usually resolved and the injured worker inherits the responsibility for treatment of the work-related body parts going forward. Once a C&R is approved by the WCAB Judge, the carrier/administrator is responsible for paying the injured worker the proceeds within 30 days.
SUPPLEMENTAL JOB DISPLACEMENT BENEFITS
A workers’ compensation settlement may also include a supplemental job displacement benefit which provides for retraining and depending on the date of injury access to an additional $5,000.00 from the CA Return-To-Work Supplement Program.
The Law Office of Matthew Russell is a workers’ compensation law firm in San Diego that can help you get a big settlement. If you are interested, give us a call at (619) 544-1506