If you’re a California injured worker, you have two main options in settling your case when the time is right.
You can either settle by a Stipulated Award (Stips) or by Compromise and Release (C&R). There are upsides and downsides to each but you should know your options.
1) STIPULATED FINDINGS AND AWARD
Once there is a determination that you have suffered permanent disability as determined by an Agreed Medical Examiner (AME) or Panel Qualified Evaluator (QME), A rating is used to determine the value of your claim by converting a Whole Person Impairment into a Permanent Disability (PD) percentage. There is a schedule in the California Labor Code that correspondS the PD value to a dollar amount.
If everyone in the case is in agreement as to the rating or value of the PD, the parties can enter into a written agreement requesting that an award be made without further court hearings. Here, the injured worker would be entitled to future medical care for injuries or ill caused by the workers’ comp injury.
If you and the employer, carrier or agent accept the rating, written agreements may be submitted to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) requesting that an Award be made without the need for a court hearing. We recommend this option when the rating is not disputed, and you have a need for future medical care. A Workers’ Compensation Judge will review the stipulations and issue an award.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES TO ENTERING A STIPS?
There are upsides to a stipulated award:
Most importantly, is that you’re still covered for your work-related illness or injury for life within the workers’ compensation system. Many injured workers find comfort in knowing that they will never have to pay any out of pocket expenses for their future medical care.
In addition, if your condition becomes worse, a stipulated award allows you to request additional payments within 5 years of the date of your injury. Once the 5th anniversary of your date of injury lapses, however, this may not be an option once your injury is more than 5 years old.
WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF DOING A STIPS?
You normally will not receive a lump sum payment, but will receive your benefits in payments every two weeks. This can change if you show a judge that it is in your best interest to receive a lump sum and you’re in extreme financial need.
In addition, many injured workers prefer to administer their own medical care. While a stipulated award does entitle you to future medical treatment, sometimes, the process of getting that treatment can be frustrating and slow as you wait for authorization from the insurance company.
2) COMPROMISE AND RELEASE (C&R)
A Compromise and Release Agreement is a settlement which usually permanently closes all aspects of a workers’ compensation claim except for vocational rehabilitation benefits, including any provision for future medical care.
The Compromise and Release is paid in one lump sum to you. It must be reviewed and approved by a Workers’ Compensation Judge.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF A COMPROMISE & RELEASE?
You may receive more money than you would receive under a Stipulated Findings and Award because you are giving up your future rights in exchange for money.
If the employer, or insurance company disputes the rating, a Compromise and Release will assure you receive an agreed amount of money now rather than risk getting nothing or a lesser amount later.
You will receive your benefits in one lump sum.
You no longer have to wait for the insurance company to issue authorization for treatment. You can simply pay for the treatment you need with the settlement proceeds.
WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES TO A C&R?
A Compromise and Release is final. Once you enter into a C&R, you cannot request additional payments or benefits from your employer or their insurance company except in extremely rare circumstances. If your condition becomes worse, you cannot seek more benefits from your employer or insurance company.
If the settlement is insufficient, you cannot seek additional benefits later in the future.