Generally, if you have an accepted work comp injury, your settlement is based on the medical report of a medical-legal evaluator (either an agreed medical examiner, a panel qualified medical examiner or your primary treating physician) who determines the nature and extent of your permanent disability and any future medical treatment you may require.
If you do not informally settle your case by Compromise & Release or Stipulations with Request for Award, but instead go to trial and let the judge decide your case, the judge will also base his decision (called a Findings and Award) on that same medical-legal report. Therefore, chances are that he will not award you any more money for permanent disability. Neither will the judge decide what the value of your future medical treatment will be. He can only decide whether or not you will require future medical treatment. You will receive the value of your permanent disability, if any, and your case will remain open for you to obtain any future medical treatment that the medical-legal evaluator has recommended. It will generally not be more money than what you may have been offered by the claims adjuster if you informally settle by Stipulations with Request for Award.
If you settle informally for a lump-sum amount (Compromise & Release Agreement), in most cases, you will get the value of your permanent disability, as well as the estimated cost of the future medical treatment recommended by the medical-legal evaluator in one lump sum. However, a judge must review all settlements and determine whether a settlement is fair and adequate. In this case, if the judge determines that the amount of your settlement is either not fair or adequate, he may decide not to approve the settlement unless the claims examiner increases the settlement amount. He cannot order the claims examiner to give you more money, but he can choose not to approve the settlement and may set your case for hearing, if the claims examiner will not increase the settlement amount.
As you can see, the judge cannot ‘give you more money,’ but he will decide whether the money that you are being offered in a settlement is fair and adequate based on the opinion of the medical-legal evaluator.
Keep in mind that if your case has been denied, other considerations may come into play. These will be discussed in another article.
If you have questions about treatment for your workers' compensation injury and want to talk to an attorney in Fresno, please call 559-408-7436 or fill out the form to the right.
The materials available at this web site are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this Web site or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between the Law Offices of Jeremy K. Lusk, Inc. and the reader.