In Pennsylvania workers’ compensation cases, there many times is the option of settling your case, whether or not the case has been accepted. Let’s say that you suffer a work related injury, your employer reports it to their workers’ compensation carrier, and your claim is accepted. From this point on, you begin receiving both indemnity (wage loss) and medical benefits for your work injury. After a while, the workers’ compensation carrier will attempt, in various ways, to modify, suspend, or terminate your benefits. All of these actions require going before a Workers’ Compensation Judge. Typically in the beginning of the litigation, the Workers’ Compensation Judge will ask if Mandatory Mediation is agreeable. This gives the injured worker, their attorney, and the workers’ compensation carrier and their attorney the opportunity to mediate the case, trying to come to a mutually acceptable agreement to settle the case.
If the parties are able to agree to a lump sum amount, the case can settle per the terms agreed upon by the parties involved. Once the parties have agreed as to the terms and dollar amount, then your case will get listed for a Compromise & Release Agreement hearing. At this hearing, the assigned Workers’ Compensation Judge will hear testimony from you to ensure that you understand what rights you are giving up, what you are receiving in exchange for entering into the Agreement, and ensure that you are not being coerced into entering into the Agreement.
This process can also apply if you have filed a Claim to attempt to receive workers’ compensation benefits, however, you almost always have an advantage to settle your case if you are already receiving benefits, as the workers’ compensation carrier is already paying you benefits, and will continue to have to do so until a Workers’ Compensation Judge orders that your benefits be modified, suspended, or terminated.
In some rather rare instances, the workers’ compensation carrier will want to settle your case through an annuity. In these instances, they will agree to settle for a finite dollar amount, but will pay out the money over an extended period of time, in small increments. Settling your case in this manner does not really allow you to move on with your life, like you could with a lump sum of money.
If you or a loved one are contemplating settling your workers’ compensation case, you owe it to yourself to retain an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to negotiate not only the dollar amount, but the terms of any settlement; otherwise, you could be giving up valuable rights that could adversely affect you and your family. You don’t want to leave any money on the table, do you?