By Michael W. McGurrin, Esquire
Many Workers’ Compensation cases conclude with a settlement of the claim. Careful thought should be given prior to settling a Workers’ Compensation case as there are a number of factors to consider. Because settling your Workers’ Compensation case can have long term implications it is important that you discuss your case with an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney.
Workers’ compensation benefits include both wage loss payments and medical payments. The injured worker is not required to pay for any medical treatment related to the injury. Very often, when settling a Workers’ Compensation claim, the parties agree to resolve not only the wage portion of the claim, but the medical portion as well. However, as the case of Hoang v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Howard Aluminum Castings, Inc.) demonstrates, the wording of the settlement documents, known as a Compromise and Release Agreement (C”&R”), is critical.
In Hoang, the C&R stated that the Agreement resolved “all indemnity and medical to which [Claimant] may have been entitled for any injury that [Claimant] sustained while working for [Employer]”. The Claimant did not know that there were over $37,000 in unpaid medical bills. When the Claimant’s attorney attempted to have the Workers’ Compensation carrier pay the outstanding medical bills, the carrier refused.
Claimant filed a claim to attempt to force the carrier to pay the bills, but ultimately was unsuccessful. The Workers’ Compensation judge and then the appeals court found that the Claimant failed to prove that there was a mutual mistake of fact regarding the outstanding medical bills and therefore refused to rescind the C&R. As a result the Workers’ Compensation carrier was not responsible for paying for the outstanding medical bills.
This is not to suggest that Claimants should not settle the medical portion of their Workers’ Compensation case. Rather they must give careful consideration all aspects of their case and the terms of settlement. The experienced Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Galfand Berger will ensure that the injured workers’ rights are properly protected. We will take the time to discuss whether settlement is right for you. If so, we will make sure that the terms of the settlement adequately protect your interests.
If you have a Workers’ Compensation case, call (800) 222-8792 to speak with an experienced Galfand Berger attorney or email us at [email protected]. We have offices throughout Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, Bethlehem-Allentown area, and the Reading-Harrisburg area.