When California workers are injured on the job, they can seek workers’ compensation benefits. There are different levels of being disabled and the Division of Workers’ Compensation will classify a worker as temporarily disabled or permanently disabled. This disability rating will impact how much the worker receives in benefits and its duration. In some cases, after the disability has been rated, the claims administrator in the case might decide to try and settle it. With a settlement, the sides agree on an amount the work accident victim will get, there will be an agreement regarding medical care, and the benefits might be subject to change.
There are two ways in which a case can be settled. First, is stipulations with request for award, also referred to as “Stips.” For payments, the worker and the claims administrator will agree on the duration for which the permanent disability payments will continue. The amount must also be agreed to. As for medical care, the claims administrator will generally agree that the medical care for the injury will continue and be paid while it is necessary. In some cases, the worker’s condition will worsen. If that happens, the worker will be allowed to ask for more benefits. If there is an improvement in the condition, the claims administrator can ask for a reduction in benefits. In general, these requests must be made within five years of when the injury occurred.
The second way is compromise and release (C&R). With C&R, there is one payment that the claims administrator will agree to make. This will be for the permanent disability compensation that the worker has not yet gotten. With medical care, if the lump sum is sufficient for the estimation as to how much medical care the person will need, there will not be any more payments to the doctor. The worker will need to address that issue on his or her own. There cannot be changes in the benefits. The worker cannot ask for more workers’ compensation benefits if the condition worsens. The claims administrator cannot ask for a reduction in benefits.
Once there is a settlement, it must be reviewed by a workers’ compensation judge. When workers have gotten their workers compensation benefits and have been rated as permanently disabled, it might be wise to consider a settlement should there be an opportunity to receive one. A lawyer who understands the various positives and negatives of such a decision can help with the case and negotiating that settlement. Calling a workers’ compensation lawyer for help is wise before accepting or rejecting a settlement offer.