settling your workers' comp claim
The most important thing you should know about workers’ compensation settlements, is that they are voluntary. Your employer’s workers’ comp insurance company does not have to agree to settle your claim, and you do not have to agree with any settlement offer. Settlement may not be appropriate in your case. I situations where you need major surgery or are still out of work, a settlement is usually not in your best interest. However, there are some situations where settlement is in your best interest. In exchange for giving up some or all of your rights to workers’ compensation benefits, you can take a lump sum cash settlement. You can settle your wage loss benefits, your medical benefits, or both. You can also obtain a lump sum payment for a permanent injury. These settlements are sometimes called a “Clincher Agreement” or a Compromise Settlement Agreement (CSA).
For more information about Compromise Settlement Agreements, see the North Carolina Industrial Commission website page on this issue at: http://www.ic.nc.gov/ncic/pages/ratinggd.htm
Mediation of Your NC Workers’ Compensation Claim
The North Carolina Industrial Commission rules require mediation of your claim. Many workers’ compensation cases settle in mediation.
Mediation is an informal meeting between you and your attorney and the workers’ compensation insurance company and their attorney to discuss the possibility of a settlement before going to a hearing at the Industrial Commission. Meditations are conducted by a certified mediator who does not make judgments or decisions, but rather attempts to bring the parties together on the disputed issues in order to facilitate settlement. As always, as your attorney, we will be with you at any mediation. The mediation is usually held in one of the offices of the attorneys involved in the case. We routinely hold meditations in our office. The process generally takes three to six hours and a spouse or another family member can come with you to the mediation. For more information about the workers’ compensation mediation program, visit the North Carolina Industrial Commission website at: http://www.ic.nc.gov/mediation.html
Workers’ Compensation Settlement Agreements in North Carolina
Many employers will propose a settlement of the permanent partial disability issues by offering a dollar amount equivalent to, or slightly less than, the amount of your likely permanent partial disability award under your workers’ compensation claim. An important thing to remember is that you will be required to give up something for this money. You may be giving up the right to argue that you are permanently and totally disabled, or the right to argue that a specific medical condition was related to your workers' comp claim, or the right to any future medical care. You will likely need the advice of an experienced workers’ comp lawyer to help you with this very important decision.
Lump sum settlements must be approved by a North Carolina Deputy Commissioner and are sometimes called a “Clincher Agreement” or a Compromise Settlement Agreement (CSA).
If your case settles at mediation, a Form MSC8 will be filed. This is a “Mediated Settlement Agreement” a workers compensation mediator will use to report to the Industrial Commission if your case settles at mediation.
Call an Experienced Workers’ Comp Attorney for a Consultation
If you are handling your workers’ compensation claim on your own and have been asked to attend a mediation ordered by the North Carolina Industrial Commission, call us at (919) 277.0161 or contact us online for a free, no obligation consultation. We are happy to explain your options.
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