How To Settle A California Workers’ Compensation Case
Before a California workers’ compensation case comes to trial, a claim can be settled in two different ways, depending on which issues are dealt with in the case. When the two sides take into consideration the risks and rewards of a trial and arrive at an agreement on the value of a case, a settlement is often the outcome. The length of time it takes to for the two sides to agree on a settlement amount depends on the parties’ knowledge of the case as well as how cooperative the sides are to making a compromise. Often, a lengthy discovery process is required to determine all the issues in the case.
As an example, the two sides may need to hold depositions, subpoena past medical records of the person making the claim, and gather current and ongoing reporting about the injury at hand to determine whether and/or how much the person making the claim will recover from the injury or accident. Using discovery methods like this takes a lot of time and in many cases, it takes more than a year to go through the whole process. This can make a case last a lot longer. In short, the length of time that a case takes depends most on the impossible-to-measure factor of how fast the two sides can agree upon a value to which both sides are amenable.
In cases where the two sides can’t agree upon a settlement value, the length of the case will then mostly depend on how long it takes the applicant to reach what is called “Maximum Medical Improvement” status. When MMI status is reached, the applicant will be issued a report from the doctor that carefully explains the medical and legal issues of the case. At that time, the case will have a specific value that a judge can decide to award (or not award) to the person making the claim.
When workers’ compensation cases go all the way to trial, that means that no settlement was able to be reached between the insurer and the person making the claim. Cases that end up in trial are often the result of the two sides seeing a particular medical or another issue in the case completely differently.
When this happens, the two sides are like oil and water when it comes to the disputed issue, each side seeing the case in their own way with an unflinching belief that they are in the right. Unless both sides can look at the issue from the other’s perspective, compromise probably won’t be possible and the case will end up in the court system and ruled on by a judge.
Disputed issues could arise over Temporary Disability benefits, whether the injury is work-related or not, the nature and the extent of the injuries, a need for current medical care, a need for future medical treatment, a need for diagnostic testing, etc. When smaller issues arise like the need for diagnostics, less complicated trials and appeals processes on those particular arguments can take place before the final trial in order to keep the discovery process moving forward.
Settlement can benefit both the insurance company and the applicant. When fair value arrived at by taking into consideration the risks and rewards, both sides can save money by shortening the discovery process. This can also eliminate risk. When the insurer settles, they get the applicant’s liability out of their system. When the person making the claim settles, they get rid of the risk of things not going their way at the trial.
The person making the claim benefits further by exiting the California workers’ compensation system altogether and gaining the ability to obtain better medical care and eliminating the daily stress of a lawsuit that is in process. Leaving the system and obtaining medical treatment for the injury by other means can be so attractive that the person making the claim will often take less money to simply be done with the claim forever. In short, when both sides are reasonable, the settlement is often a win-win scenario.
California Worker Compensation Lawyer
At Los Angeles Injury Group, we understand how a long trial can affect your life. Therefore, we do everything within our power to best assist our clients in determining the best course of action. If you, or someone you love, has been injured by someone else, give us a call at (310) 954-7248 and we will determine whether a settlement or a court trial is the best course of action for you.