Settlement Process

A California workers’ compensation case can end through a judicial decision by way of a trial or as a result of a voluntary settlement. There are typically two ways that you can settle a workers’ compensation case in California. One is known as a “Compromise and Release,” and the other is known as a “Stipulation with Request for Award.” Each type of settlement has its differences, but both allow the injured employee to be paid a portion of permanent disability for the injury. The settlement process in a workers’ compensation case is a pertinent process and can be different for everyone. Your Stockton workers’ compensation attorney can help you through the settlement process no matter what route you end up taking.

How do workers’ compensation cases typically settle?

Settlement ProcessA workers’ compensation case can end with a workers’ compensation judge deciding on an award after a trial or by way of a settlement agreement. Workers’ compensation cases in California typically reach the settlement phase when the injured employee’s condition is not expected to change and is stable. You have the right to settle your workers’ compensation case at any time; however, our Stockton Workers’ Compensation Attorneys recommend that you do not settle until the full extent of your injuries is known. Settlements allow injured workers to conclude claims more quickly than a trial, but sacrifices often have to be made regarding the benefits they will receive. 

What is a Compromise and Release? 

A Compromise and Release is the most similar to a typical settlement agreement that you would see in other areas of law. A Compromise and Release agreement wraps up all of your potential, past, and future claims into one specific settlement and then wipes the slate clean. You do not have rights to any future medical care, rights to temporary disability, rights to permanent disability, and rights to vocational rehabilitation. To end the case, one party would pay the other party, and once paid, each party will have no further ties to the other. 

One drawback is that if the injured worker is still an employee of the company the insurance company insures, they will typically not agree to a Compromise and Release. A Compromise and Release typically will release the employer and insurance company from future responsibilities on the injury. If the injured worker is still an employee of the company, they could theoretically file a new claim for the same injury, and thus the insurance company would have to pay for the injury twice.  

What is a Stipulation with Request for Award? 

A Stipulation with Request for Award really isn’t a settlement of your case; rather, it’s an agreement reached over the workers’ compensation benefits that you’re entitled to receive. The agreement is put into a written stipulation and given to a workers’ compensation judge, who then issues an award. You still have future rights, and you have not settled those future rights when you have a Stipulation with Request for Award. If you need continued medical care related to that injury down the line, then you are entitled to that medical care. Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company will cover it, subject to utilization review. If your injuries worsen within five years of the injury’s original date, you can potentially go back and petition to reopen your case to increase your stipulation and award. 

Unfortunately, you do not receive a lump sum payment for your benefits, but you will receive compensation every two weeks. However, if you can show a financial need or hardship, you could potentially request a lump sum payment of all or part of your permanent disability. Nonetheless, you must persuade a Workers’ Compensation Judge that it would be in your best interest. Therefore, to characterize a Stipulation with Request for Award as a settlement really isn’t accurate. It really is a resolution of benefits to date, and you still have benefits in the future. 

Is a Compromise and Release or a Stipulation with Request for Award better? 

There are some critical differences in the ways that you settle your workers’ compensation case in California. It really depends on your situation.  

A Compromise and Release may be better if you want to control your own medical care for your injury. It is also good if you would prefer a lump sum payment for the value of your permanent disability and future medical treatment. You may even receive more money because you are giving up your future rights in exchange for money.

A Stipulation with Request for Award is typically better if you would rather have a continued relationship with the insurance company and have them provide you with your future medical care. You can also reopen your injury claim within five years of the date of injury if your injury worsens. A Stipulation with Request for Award is a quick and easy way to settle your case while still protecting your rights. 

What can Stockton Workers’ Compensation Attorneys do?

There are pros and cons to a Compromise and Release as well as a Stipulation with Request for Award. A Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Stockton, California can help you decided which is better for your situation. If you have any questions about the workers’ compensation settlement process, please contact a Stockton Workers’ Compensation Attorney today.