Can I be Forced Back to Work after a Workers’ Comp Settlement?

In the State of California, a full and final workers’ compensation settlement is called a compromise and release (C&R). As part of a C&R, the employer/insurance company will issue the injured worker a settlement check in a lump sum. This settlement resolves the workers’ compensation case as a whole. The amount of the settlement will depend on the present and projected value of any medical expenses and lost wages that the injured worker has incurred or is expected to incur.

Insurance companies offer these lump-sum settlements in several situations. The first situation occurs when an insurance company denies the worker’s injury. The second situation is when the injured worker has suffered a permanent injury, and a healthcare provider has determined the percentage of disability which the workers suffered.

For example, as a result of the workplace injury, the accident victim might have suffered a 10% permanent impairment to his or her neck or back. In that instance, the insurance company might offer a lump sum settlement to close out the entire claim.

The insurance company will only put a full and final settlement offer on the table if you are not returning to work for the same employer. Therefore, if you accept a settlement, your employer (at the time of the workplace accident) will not force you back into work. In fact, it would have no incentive to do so since if you return to the same job, you could potentially file another workers’ compensation claim.

A knowledgeable California workers’ compensation attorney could help you decide whether you should accept a pending settlement offer and could negotiate with your employer’s insurance company on your behalf.

Settlement Negotiation Process

A worker’s employer/insurer will not put a settlement offer on the table until healthcare providers have issued impairment ratings. Once that is done, the injured worker’s attorney will typically submit a demand to the insurance company which exceeds the full value of any award that a commissioner might grant at a hearing. The employer/insurer will then typically put an introductory offer on the table for settlement. Both sides will then negotiate until they either reach an agreement or an impasse.

Before accepting a final settlement offer, the injured worker will want to make sure that the settlement totally compensates him or her for lost wages as well as for anticipated future costs. Once an injured worker accepts a full and final settlement offer, the workers’ compensation claim is closed from that point forward. In other words, the injured worker will not be able to reopen the claim at any point in the future for a worsening of their condition.

Accepting a Full and Final Offer

An employer/insurer is only going to place a full and final settlement offer on the table when a worker is not going to return to the same job with the same employer. Therefore, the injured worker may be eligible for a full and final settlement if he/she switches jobs or employers.

The full and final settlement is not effective until such time as the injured worker and his/her attorney signs off on the agreement. In addition, the attorney for the employer/insurer must sign off, along with a representative of the Division of Workers’ Compensation. After that point, the agreement will be official and will take effect. The insurance company will issue a check, and the claim will end.

A knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney in California will be able to negotiate a favorable settlement offer on your behalf. Your lawyer can also help you decide whether you should accept a full and final settlement offer, as well as the potential advantages and disadvantages of accepting a particular offer. Your attorney can also represent you at any hearings and draft the necessary documents for your signature in order to finalize your case and bring it to a prompt conclusion.