A settlement is an agreement between two parties to conclude the legal proceeding in exchange for something, usually monetary compensation. For workers’ compensation claims, the settlement typically involves the injured employee receiving compensation for the physical impairment and/or the vocational disability in exchange for a lump sum of money. By accepting this settlement the parties are agreeing to forever close the claim and not bring further litigation on the same issue. Therefore, once the claim is settled, if the worker experiences greater pain or increased disability, the employer / insurance company is not responsible for paying additional compensation to the employee.
Also at issue is future medical treatment. Medical benefits are one of the most valuable benefits an injured worker can receive pursuant to the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act. If medical benefits are left open as part of the settlement, the employer is responsible for paying for the authorized medical treatment on the injured body parts for as long as needed.
However, if the injured employee does not want or need future medical care benefits to remain open this too can be part of the negotiations. Often the insurance company would prefer to pay the injured employee some money in exchange for closing future medical care benefits, especially if the injured worker is no longer employed with the same employer. This is negotiable and not a requirement.
Once the settlement paperwork is signed by both sides, the parties either attend a benefits review conference with a State ombudsman or a court hearing for approval by a judge with jurisdiction of the claim. Then the settlement is a done deal with very little exceptions to be able to revisit the agreed upon deal.
Setting aside a settlement can only be done within sixty (60) days of the signing of the agreement and there must be a finding of fraud, newly discovered evidence or other good cause in order to relieve the parties of the agreement.
Settling a claim is an important and legally binding matter. An injured worker should not rely on the advice of the workers’ compensation carrier adjuster or their employer when deciding to settle the claim. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can provide legal advice that protects the injured worker.
If you have any more questions about your workers’ compensation claim or a settlement of your claim, please call the attorneys at the Nomberg Law Firm (205) 930-6900 or contact us here.