Q: When can I settle my case?
A: Once you know the value of your permanent disability, you can begin to think about how to settle your case. There are two kinds of settlement documents which may be available to you: one is a Stipulation With Request for Award; the other is a Compromise and Release. We will review this with you in great detail and explain what is the best option for you.
Q: What is a Stipulation with Request for Award?
A: A stipulation with request for award (stipulation or agreement) is essentially a set of agreements. You are agreeing on the level of your permanent disability based on the rating, the amount of money payable to you because of the rating, the temporary disability period that is owed (if not already paid), and whether you require ongoing medical care.
A stipulation is normally the only type of settlement used when you continue to work for the same employer, and it is normally the only way to resolve your case where the insurance carrier continues to be responsible for paying for your ongoing medical care. When you settle your case with a stipulation, your permanent disability payments are made over time until the full amount is paid. At the same time, you continue to be entitled to ongoing medical care if your doctor has stated that you require such care. Another advantage to this kind of settlement is that it grants you the ability to reopen your case for new and further disability for up to five years from the date of your injury. This means a stipulation is a good way to resolve your claim if you are concerned that your condition might worsen.
Q: What is a Compromise and Release?
A: A Compromise and Release is a settlement of all your rights against the insurance carrier and your employer for payment of one lump sum. After signing the settlement agreement and receiving payment, you lose the right to ask for future medical care or additional disability because of your injury. The advantage of a Compromise and Release is that you receive a lump sum payment up front; the disadvantage is that in the future you are responsible for directing your own medical care, and will have no right to seek such care or payments from the insurance carrier. If you are on Social Security Disability and are either on or eligible for Medicare, we must consider certain other complicating factors to protect your interests.
Q: How do I know which kind of settlement to choose?
A: It will depend on many personal factors. For example, you must consider what, if any, medical care you might need in the future and how you would plan to pay for it. You must consider whether you are currently working for the same employer or have you moved on to someplace new, particularly if this impacts your private health insurance and whether the insurer has provisions about treatment for a pre-existing condition. Additionally, any other benefits, such as Social Security Disability, Medicare, or long-term disability insurance, may be offset by money you receive in a settlement of your workers compensation case. We are dedicated to assisting you in evaluating the complex factors that affect which kind of settlement you choose. You will meet with an attorney who will counsel you on the best option.