Settlement vs. Stipulation in a Workers’ Compensation Case
Your workers’ compensation case may involve several different claims filed at different times.
For example, you may file a workers’ compensation claim to establish that you suffered an injury by accident arising out of and in the course of your employment so that you receive medical benefits. Then you may file a change in condition claim seeking temporary total disability benefits if you miss time from work because you have to undergo surgery for the injury. And finally, you may file a claim for permanent partial disability benefits once you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI).
It is possible to resolve an individual workers’ compensation claim without resolving the entire case through a full and final settlement. This is done through a Stipulation.
This article explains the differences between a workers’ compensation stipulation and a workers’ comp settlement. If you have questions about your case, or are seeking legal representation, contact top-rated workers’ comp attorney Corey Pollard for a free consultation. We’ve helped hundreds of disabled workers across Virginia navigate the complex workers compensation claims process. And we want to help you.
The Best Example of a Stipulation vs. Settlement in Workers’ Comp
As the injured employee seeking benefits, you are referred to as the claimant in workers’ comp. The claimant and the insurance company have the ability to reach an agreement in a case with respect to any pending claim, change in condition application, or employer’s application for hearing. Claims for permanent partial disability benefits (PPD) are best suited to a stipulation.
Let’s say that you have reached maximum medical improvement for your shoulder injury. After an evaluation and some discussion between your attorney and orthopedic surgeon, you are issued a permanent impairment rating of 25% for the arm. Your attorney then files a change in condition claim seeking PPD benefits.
There are three ways that you can receive PPD benefits in this situation:
1) Following a hearing before the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission and the entry of an order finding that you are entitled to PPD benefits and stating the amount of your permanent impairment.
2) By Stipulation
3) By Settlement Agreement
When the parties try the PPD claim at a hearing before a deputy commissioner, they are allowing a third-party to decide the outcome. The deputy commissioner will listen to the testimony and review the medical evidence, which may be conflicting, then issue a decision. The parties have the right to appeal the deputy commissioner’s decision.
When the parties stipulate to a PPD award, the parties are agreeing that:
- You suffered an injury by accident arising out of and in the course of the employment;
- You are disabled;
- You suffered permanent impairment to the injured body part;
- You will receive a specific PPD award, as negotiated by the parties;
- A hearing is not necessary on this matter;
- The employer and its insurance company will continue to pay for all reasonable, necessary, and authorized medical treatment related to your work injury for the remainder of your life;
- You may seek any other benefits to which you may be entitled, subject to the laws of Virginia workers’ compensation.
When the parties reach a settlement, they are agreeing that:
- You will receive a specific amount of money;
- There is no need for a hearing in this case;
- You may not reopen your claim in the future for any reason;
- You may not receive any future medical treatment for your work-related injury unless it is specifically stated in the Settlement Agreement.
When you settle a case instead of entering into a Stipulation, you are waiving your right to future medical treatment, wage loss benefits, and permanent disability compensation.
The Commission must review and approve all Stipulations and Settlement Agreements before they become final.
Contact Us Before Finalizing a Settlement or Stipulation in Your Virginia Workers’ Compensation Case
The parties to a workers’ compensation claim may settle or enter into a stipulation at any time. It’s important that you contact top-rated workers’ comp lawyer Corey Pollard when negotiating these agreements. Though they can bring clarity, closure, and certainty to your case, a settlement or stipulation will affect your health and finances.
Call 804-251-1620 today, or complete the online consultation form to your right. We’re here to help you and your family while you recover from your work injury.