Does A Settlement Need To Be Approved By The State Workers’ Compensation Agency?
In Colorado, a workers’ compensation full and final settlement is not done until the Division of Work Comp or an administrative law judge stamps the order approving the settlement. When the Division of Work Comp or an administrative law judge gets the settlement documents in front of him or her, they don’t analyze whether it’s a good or bad settlement for a certain worker if that worker is represented by an attorney. They only look at the terms that are required to be included in work comp settlement documents. In Colorado, the Division of Work Comp has standard settlement documents that are used in every single case, which makes it easy for the division or an administrative law judge to go through and make sure that specific terms are included.
Also, as part of a settlement, there are work comp settlement documents that the Division of Work Comp requires. The settlement documents are fairly generic and have terms that don’t necessarily apply to every single injured worker. For example, if an injured worker owes back child support, that’s taken into account in the second paragraph of the settlement documents. Part of the work comp settlement can be taken and placed toward the injured workers’ back due child support benefits. Not everybody has back due child support, and therefore, those terms in the settlement documents don’t apply to everyone.
Another term, “subrogation” is when an injured worker is hurt by a third-party that’s unrelated to the employer. For instance, if a delivery driver is rear-ended by a random third-party, the injured worker can maintain a lawsuit against that third-party. Subrogation then becomes an issue, and paragraph five of the settlement documents addresses subrogation. Does the insurance company waive its subrogation rights, or does the insurance company retain its subrogation rights? The majority of injured workers don’t have a third-party claim, and therefore, paragraph five of the settlement documents regarding subjugation doesn’t apply to them. Regardless, these terms are part of the regular settlement documents that are reviewed by either the Division of Work Comp or an administrative law judge.
Will My Workers’ Compensation Case Go To Trial If We Are Unable To Settle?
Depending on the circumstances, a workers’ compensation case can go to trial if the parties are unable to get it settled. There are a few different things that can happen. Going back to when someone is injured on the job, they are entitled to three main types of benefits; medical benefits, lost wages, and permanent disability benefits. Sometimes, an injured worker gets to the end of the case and they’re given the monetary value of their impairment rating, which is called permanent partial disability benefits. They receive those benefits, but they’re not settling their case. Their case will close by way of final admission of liability, and they maintain the right to petition to reopen in certain circumstances. That’s different from settling a case, which is signing the settlement documents, having the settlement documents approved by the division, and getting one lump sum of money at the end.
A person can receive permanent partial disability benefits at the end of their case either through weekly benefits or a lump sum payment. Their case closed but they retain the right to reopen it, versus a full and final settlement where there is no right to reopen except in extremely limited circumstances. That’s closing versus settling on a full and final basis. Whether a case goes to hearing is a step back prior to closing or full and final settlement. Issues they may go to hearing on are disagreement with the impairment rating or maybe they don’t think that they got paid the proper amount of lost wages.
There are a few different reasons why a case would go to the court prior to closing or settling. But, for the most part, once a person reaches maximum medical improvement, the issues that they would go to court for include disputes over lost wages, disfigurement benefits, the amount of permanent partial disability benefits, permanent total disability benefits, and future medical care.
Do I Have Any Protection After Returning To Work From Settlement And Injury?
When an injured worker returns to work after receiving treatment and/or lost wages for their work-related injury, the employer cannot take any adverse employment actions against them based on that person pursuing their rights under the Workers’ Compensation Act. In other words, an employer cannot fire an injured worker for filing a work comp claim. Alternatively, the injured worker is subject to the same set of rules as the uninjured worker. The employer cannot discriminate for any of the Title 7 reasons such as race, religion, gender, or discrimination due to age. But if the injured worker does something voluntarily such as fail to show up for work, or yell at the boss, they can then be terminated for cause just like any other employee.
The last thing that the injured worker may or may not maintain is the right to a reasonable accommodation under the Americans With Disabilities Act as Amended, which is the ADAAA. Depending on the injury, the permanent restrictions, and the size of the employer, the individual may be able to request a reasonable accommodation. It is then up to the employer to respond based upon the federal law as opposed to a state work comp law.
For more information on Approval Of Workers’ Comp Settlements In CO, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (303) 900-7274 today.
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