Do Workers’ Comp Cases Ever End in Lump Sum Settlements?
Some injured workers may be confused about how their benefits are paid. Most understand that temporary disability checks are calculated on a weekly basis in place of wages. However, what about awards for partial or total permanent disability? How are they paid? Do workers’ comp cases ever end in lump sum settlements?
We’ve written before about partial or total permanent disability awards. The dollar amounts come from a chart that allocates percentages and breaks them down into weekly payments. Money starts to amass from the date temporary disability checks conclude. There may be a delay between the end of temporary disability and the court hearing. The first check for partial or permanent disability is tallied to bring the payments up to date. In some cases, the accrued disbursement may be the only one due to the injured worker. It may appear to be a lump sum payment, but really is not.
That’s not to say that there aren’t lump sum settlements for work-related injuries. Under NJSA 34:15-20, the court may end disputed cases by approving a one-time settlement amount. These types of orders are referred to as Section 20 awards.
Section 20 Awards for Disputed Comp Cases
Most experienced workers’ compensation attorneys are selective about settling claims under Section 20. We’ll go through the reasons why some cases conclude under this part of the law. We’ll also provide the issues associated with Section 20 settlements. Here’s a breakdown:
- Disputed Cases: If the injured employee and the employer have a dispute about the accident or occupational exposure, they may decide to settle the claim under Section 20. This could also mean there is difficulty proving an injury was related to on the job duties. The employer does not assume liability by agreeing to settle a case under Section 20.
- Ineligible Cases: If the employer’s insurance company has acknowledged that permanent injuries occurred as a result of on the job injuries, the case would be ineligible for lump sum settlement.
- Dependency Claims: A Section 20 order may be entered if there is a dispute concerning the relationship of the decedent’s passing to his or her employment.
- Court Approval: A workers’ compensation judge must approve the Section 20 award. Both the employer and injured worker must agree to settle the case.
- Payment: Settlements paid under this section of the law are made in lump sum. They do not accrue according to the disability schedule for the year of the accident. Section 20 payments are final.
- Reopener Claims: Cases that are settled under Section 20 cannot be reopened. Even if the injured worker finds that his or her disability has increased, no modifications can be made to the court order approving the settlement.
Do you believe your injuries are work-related? Could a loved one’s death be connected to an on the job accident? Contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone to see how we can assist you in determining if you can pursue a claim.