In a typical workers’ compensation claim, an injured employee is entitled to weekly checks to cover lost income, payment of medical expenses, vocational rehabilitation, and permanent disability, if applicable. The amount of these benefits is dependent on the worker’s average weekly wage and the extent of the injury. Once in a while, a large workers’ comp settlement will make the news and injured employees will ask us if they can get a large cash settlement in lieu of benefits. As with anything in the workers’ compensation system, it all depends on the facts of the case.
THE LARGEST WORKERS’ COMPENSATION SETTLEMENT IN CALIFORNIA
In March 2017, a worker collected a $10 million workers’ comp settlement for injuries sustained in a car accident. The employee was driving home from work early in the morning when her vehicle veered off the road and collided with a tree. The woman suffered serious trauma as a result of the accident, including a brain injury. Typically, injuries sustained during an employee’s routine commute are not covered by workers’ compensation, but as this case demonstrates, there are exceptions to the rule.
EXCEPTIONS TO THE “GOING AND COMING” RULE
In order for an injury to be compensable, it must arise out of and occur during the course of employment. Meaning, the worker needs to be employed and providing a service to the employer at the time of the incident. This is not usually the case when an employee is commuting to or from work. However, in the case above, the employee was driving home after working on a special audit project that required her to stay late. Because she was on the road outside of normal commuting hours and under particular circumstances, the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) recognized the accident as a valid workers’ comp case.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO SETTLE A WORKERS’ COMP CASE?
In the workers’ compensation system, an employer’s insurance carrier has a responsibility to pay on-going weekly benefits and medical expenses to an injured worker. When the worker and his or her attorney decide to settle, they are essentially agreeing to end the legal proceedings in exchange for a lump sum of money up front. This cash settlement represents the value of expected benefits and medical expenses the injured worker will need going forward. In accepting a cash settlement, the worker is agreeing to close his or her workers’ comp case forever. For this reason, it’s important to work with an experienced workers’ comp lawyer who can negotiate the highest cash settlement possible in case a major surgery is needed in the future.
HOW MUCH CAN I GET FROM A WORKERS’ COMP SETTLEMENT?
The $10 million workers’ comp settlement above set a record not only in California, but also in the entire country. While not every cash settlement will be this large, an experienced workers’ comp attorney will work diligently to understand the specific details of your case and negotiate for maximum compensation. At The Law Office of Matthew Russell, we have more than 45 years of collective experience representing injured workers. During this time, we’ve developed a deep understanding of the types of work-related injuries, predictive analytics, and negotiation tactics to get our clients full and fair compensation for their losses. Call us today to schedule your free consultation at (619) 544-1506