This is general information to give a basic understanding regarding Worker’s Compensation settlements and should not be construed as legal advice. Workers compensation cases are unique in that only a workers compensation judge at a Workers Compensation Appeals Board venue can only finalize them. Work injury lawyers are the only regulated attorneys in the state of California and that the only fee a workers compensation attorney can receive is with the approval of a workers compensation judge at a Workers Compensation Appeals Board. Remember that a workers compensation attorney cannot ask you for an advance payment from an injured worker without the approval of a workers compensation judge.
There are three basic types of settlements or outcomes for workers compensation cases. The first type of settlement for a work injury is called a Stipulation with a Request for Award. This type of workers compensation settlement involves a percentage of work injury disability which is paid out over time according to the workers compensation laws put into place by the California legislature. Because the workers compensation laws change radically with each reform, the rules are different according to your date of injury. The payments will vary depending on your earnings and whether you are able to return to work or not after finishing your treatment for your workers compensation injury. The amount of benefits you receive will very depend on your date of injury also. In addition to the payments for your percentage of work disability, you receive lifetime workers compensation benefits for your work injury in the form of future medical care. With this type of workers compensation settlement, you do have the right to reopen your work injury case for additional workers compensation benefits for five years from the date of your work injury. After those five years have passed, the work injury disability percentage will be final but a lifetime workers compensation medical care for your workers compensation case will remain open.
The second type of workers compensation settlement is called a Compromise & Release. This type of work comp settlement involves a tax-free lump sum payment to settle all workers compensation issues in your work injury case. Generally the issues involved in your workers compensation case will be temporary disability, some percentage of permanent work injury disability, possibly retroactive unpaid benefits or penalties, and future work injury medical care. In a lump sum payment, all of these workers compensation issues are settled. Once a Compromise & Release is approved, by a workers compensation judge at a workers compensation appeals board, this is a final settlement of all issues except in some rare circumstances.
The third type of closure for workers compensation cases is Trial. The outcome of a work comp trial is generally identical to a Stipulation with a Request for Award discussed earlier in this article. The difference is the workers compensation judge will hear and review your evidence and testimony then issue a decision called a Findings & Award. If you are successful at trial, the judge will award some percentage of permanent disability, future medical care and possibly other benefits or penalties. If you are owed unpaid workers compensation benefits or if your work injury case is denied, a workers compensation judge will determine what happens to these issues when they issue a Findings & Award. The Findings & Award is the trial decision by the workers compensation judge and in certain circumstances can be appealed within certain time limits by filing a petition for reconsideration.
The road to all three of these workers compensation settlements is a bumpy one, you can make the road a lot smoother by hiring an experienced and local workers compensation attorney. Calling an experienced local attorney at the Law Offices of Cleveland & Metz can help you get through this process. Call us for a free consultation; our office serves the eastern Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County areas. If you live outside of these areas, we can help you find an experienced local workers compensation attorney or you can find one at CAAA.org