In our last blog post we discussed two ways settlement arrangements are reached in workers’ compensation claims in New Jersey. For many parties, these settlements have a sense of finality and conclusion. In some cases, this is true, and the claim cannot be reevaluated at a later date. However, The Law Offices of Albert J. Talone have represented quite a few clients in the instances when settlement was not the end of claim for an injured worker.
If you missed our last post, let’s catch-up quickly. There are two ways to settle a workers’ compensation case in New Jersey. Both offer pros and cons that should be considered by an injured employee and his or her legal representative. Sometimes, refusing to settle is the best strategy. However, when settlement is on the table, one of the major distinctions between types of settlement is whether or not you can reopen the claim.
First, When Settlement Is Final
When the parties agree to a lump sum, single payment as settlement of a workers’ compensation case, the amount paid is final. Referred to as Section 20 settlements, because this is the Section of the Workers’ Compensation Act in New Jersey that dictates the conditions of these payments, these one-off payments are typically preferred by employers and their insurance companies. Those parties know that even if a medical condition worsens or more doctors’ visits are needed, the amount cannot be adjusted.
As the employee is barred from reopening the claim, there is some risk to accepting these settlement offers, and many workers’ compensation lawyers in the state will advise against it. Also, Section 20 settlements are only allowed in specific instances and must be approved the judge. These aspects make them less frequent than settlement by an Order Approving Settlement.
Second, When Settlement Isn’t Final
An Order Approving Settlement is a process laid out in Section 22 of the Workers’ Compensation Act. Unlike a Section 20 settlement, to determine the amount of settlement the parties must reference monetary chart provided by the New Jersey Department of Labor in calculating. This chart provides the cost attributed to injury to each part of the body, based on full disability.
If an employee injured an elbow, the amount attributed to this injury would be based on severity and what percentage of the arm is injured. In this example 30% might be applicable. A unique aspect of this form of settlement is that even after documents are signed and claim concluded, the settlement could be reopened for specific reasons, such as increased medical costs from the same incident and injury or increase in disability from that injury.
An employee must provide evidence of the additional medical expenses or time unable to work, after the initial settlement, and the Division of Labor will need to revisit the claim. As well, an employee can only reopen a claim for two years after receipt of the last workers’ compensation payment under the original settlement agreement. Determining if it is possible and worthwhile to reopen a claim can be complicated, and many injured workers turn to a New Jersey workers’ compensation lawyer for assistance.
Call The Law Offices of Albert J. Talone
If you have questions about your workers’ compensation settlement or are considering settlement of your claim in Southern New Jersey, you may want to speak with a qualified lawyer. Albert J. Talone, Esq. focuses specifically on workers’ compensation, and has handled a number of reopened claims.
Call our office today at (856)-234-4023.
The information in this blog post (“Post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this Post should be construed as legal advice from The Law Office of Albert J. Talone or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter.