California workers who suffer a disability caused by a workplace accident or work-related job tasks are typically entitled to file for workers’ compensation through their employer’s insurance. In many cases, the injured worker begins receiving medical treatment and weekly wage benefits as soon as his claim is approved. However, over the course of medical treatment, the doctor may determine that there is a permanent partial or total disability. At that point, the injured worker may negotiate a lump sum payment for future wage loss and cost of future medical treatment.
Negotiating a lump sum payment is much like negotiating a settlement for any other type of insurance claim. The insurance company and your attorney will base the claim amount on the level of disability, based on your doctor’s final permanent and stationary report (PSR); signed by your doctor after you have reached what is referred to as maximum medical recovery (MMR). It is important NOT to begin negotiating a lump sum settlement until after the PSR has been submitted.
If you remain employed with your employer, but at a reduced work capacity because of your disability, a ‘stipulation’ settlement will likely be your only option. A chart of disabilities is updated annually and will be used as the baseline for determining the dollar amount you are offered for medical care and wage loss.
Compromise And Release Option
If you are unable to return to work, you may pursue a higher lump sum payment than what the insurance company is offering. This is referred to as Compromise and Release. Basically, you reach a compromise with the insurance company and you release them from all further compensatory damages. Injured workers pursue this option when there are disputes over money for special needs, cost of medical treatment and the full value of lost earnings potential.
The workers’ comp insurance provider will fight to offer the lowest amount possible. As the claimant, you will be negotiating with a team of experienced adjusters and insurance defense lawyers. Having a knowledgeable California workers’ compensation attorney on your side is critical to obtaining a full and fair settlement. Remember, you will be relying on the payment to cover a lifetime of wage loss, reduced earning potential and future medical care.