Pennsylvanians who suffer a “work injury” are entitled to receive benefits under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act (the “Act”). The Act offers a variety of benefits that include wage-loss benefits, payment for medical treatment, and death benefits to surviving family members.
It is very common for insurance carriers to make a settlement offer to an injured worker receiving workers’ compensation benefits. In fact, life expectancy lump sum settlements are prevalent in Pennsylvania.
A lump-sum payment in settlement of a workers’ compensation claim helps an insurance company to better estimate its costs over time, as well as assigning some degree of finality to the case. In Pennsylvania, claims are typically settled through a compromise and release whereby the parties formally agree to settlement through a lump sum payment.
The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act allows parties to settle a claim for benefits, including medical expense benefits. This requires the use of a Compromise and Release Agreement (“C & R”), form LIBC-755, which must be approved by a Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) for the agreement to have any legal effect. C & R agreements are signed on the day of the hearing, prior to submission to the judge for approval. This date is also the date on which the final periodic payments were due.
The Act also permits future periodic payments to be commuted by the Workers’ Compensation Board. When the period to be commuted is 52 weeks or less, Pennsylvania law does not permit a discounted lump sum payment. Only when a time period greater than 52 weeks is being commuted, may the parties consent to a lump sum at a discounted rate.
Settling a workers’ compensation case for a one-time lump sum payment brings finality to a case. Once a WCJ approves a C & R, the case may not be reopened to request additional benefits. Thus, the importance of negotiating the best settlement possible is crucial.
If you have a workers’ compensation claim, utilize the experience and expertise of the attorneys at Powell Law to assert and protect your rights, while negotiating the best settlement possible under the facts of your case. If you have suffered a work-related injury, consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Contact Powell Law at (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE and you don’t pay unless we win!