Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Can I settle my Pennsylvania workers' compensation case?

Sure! (Well, most of the time.) At C&C Law, we represent injured workers who receive PA workers’ comp. Sometimes, a case is just right to “settle” - or “put an end to” - either your medical benefits, wage benefits or even both.

Settling a Workers’ Comp case means that the injured worker and the insurance company, after negotiation, have come to an agreement as to just how much ‘value’ (or ‘money’) the case is worth when considering medical bills and treatment as well as any past or future lost wages. Once everyone agrees on a value for the case, a Workers’ Comp Judge reviews the terms of the settlement (in Comp lingo, called a ‘Compromise and Release Agreement’). Then, the Judge issues a Decision approving the C&R and the insurance company pays you the ‘value’ you agreed upon. Here is .pdf version of a blank Compromise and Release Agreement that must be filled out and submitted to the Judge for review.

Do we settle every case? Definitely not! In most cases we start thinking about settling only after our client is finished treating with his/her doctor and once we know the client’s long-term prognosis. It makes no sense to settle your case if you are unsure about the need for future surgery, therapy or the like. It also makes no sense to settle the case if you are unsure whether you’ll be returning to work at the same wage you earned before the injury or whether you might not return to work at all.

And then there are the times that settling the case is the right thing to do despite the medical or wage issues. Based on our years of experience in litigating Pennsylvania Workers’ Comp cases, we may have reason to believe that your chances of winning before the Judge are slim. If this is
the case, it may be in your best interest to settle the case rather than risk losing before the Judge and getting no Comp benefits at all.

It is important to remember that each case is different. You need to evaluate your case based on these and other factors to determine if settlement is appropriate. More likely than not, there is value in your case and many times the insurance company can be motivated to pay “top dollar” to clear their books of open claims. Because every case is different, there is no way to give you a "value " for a lump sum settlement of your case by using an easy equation. You may have heard of an equation of 10 years' worth of wage benefits. Or another one often cited is 3 to 5 years worth of wage benefits. Although some times cases settle within these general guidelines, often times cases settle for more or even less, depending on many circumstances.

At C&C Law, we will evaluate your case to determine if it’s ready to settle, and if so, the fair ‘value’ of your case so you can move on in your life and support your family. Send us an email, give us a call or just stop by if we can help with your PA Workers’ Comp case.