“When can I settle my workers’ comp case?” is one of the most common questions people ask workers comp lawyers in Summerlin. Truth be told, there is no set timeline for settling a case. From five minutes after you file your workers’ comp claim to 25 years after your injury, the timeline to settle your workers’ comp case can vary depending on various factors.
Let’s back up a little bit. Settling a workers comp case could involve resolving permanent partial disability or permanent disability. That would either be stipulations with a request for an award or findings and award. Another way to settle your case is entering into a compromise and release that settles permanent partial disability. It also settles all future medical care and any potential to reopen the case.
Factors That Influence Your Case Settlement
To finalize a settlement, a judge will review the settlement and determine if it is adequate before they issue an award or an order approving. This is known as determining adequacy. In short, to determine adequacy, the judge needs to see a basis for the settlement.
Nine out of 10 times, that means there will be a permanent disability rating. If your medical condition isn’t going to improve, the treating physician (PTP) will evaluate you as ‘permanent and stationary’. That is rated out to a level of permanent disability. You enter into stipulations or a compromise and release based on that.
The other option is to go to a qualified medical examiner, the panel QME(Qualified Medical Evaluators), and that doctor issues a ratable report. It may differ from the PTP. But that report rates a level of permanent disability after adjustment for age and occupation, any apportionment, and you settle with stipulations based on that rating. On the other hand, you can also settle with a compromise and release based on the rating and the anticipated future medical care.
But you might wonder why it was mentioned that you could settle anytime. If you settle early on in the case, you need a good explanation for it. It all goes back to the judge needing to determine adequacy. No settlement in workers comp can be approved until a judge determines adequacy.
So if you’re settling without a primary treating physician or a QME, you’re just taking a shot in the dark to wrap up the case quickly. You should be able to explain to the judge why the settlement is adequate.
The reason could be that your injury was minimal and you feel perfectly fine. Or, maybe you don’t want to go back to the doctor anymore because you feel fine with over-the-counter medication. Whatever the reason is, there needs to be a good explanation. Otherwise, a judge might issue an order suspending action because they need further explanation.
So the bottom line is that you can settle your workers’ comp claim at any time, from the day after you file the claim until 25 years later. Usually, the settlement process takes around 12-18 months. However, it may take longer if your case goes to trial.
If you are confused about accepting a settlement, it would be best to consult a qualified attorney. A skilled lawyer can help you understand all your options and also determine the likelihood of winning a claim. We urge you to compare different attorneys in your area to find the right representation.