A Stipulation Is One Settlement Option To Consider In California Workers’ Compensation Claim Disputes
In the workers’ compensation claim context in California, a stipulation is one settlement option. Unlike a compromise & release, which brings about a clean break between the employee, the employer’s insurance carrier, and sometimes the employer itself through a buyout of future medical and all other costs related to a workers’ compensation claim, a stipulation keeps an injured employee’s future medical care open.
What is a Workers Compensation Stipulation?
A stipulation can be agreed upon by an injured employee and the employer’s insurance carrier after the employee’s physician determines the employee to be “permanent and stationary” as a result of the injury. The classification involves the assignment of a certain percentage of permanent disability and estimated needs of future medical treatment. For the employee, a stipulation might be desirable because it brings about cash in the short-term, but without having to worry about out-of-pocket future medical costs if the permanent disability ends up requiring more treatment than is estimated in the present. For the employer’s insurance carrier, a stipulation might be desirable because it allows for settling once and for all the percentage of permanent disability. In locking in this percentage, the employer eliminates the risk of having to pay out even more benefits in the event the disability worsens, thereby raising the percentage assigned.
In terms of stipulation procedure, a doctor first dictates the permanent disability percentage and anticipated future medical care in a report sent to the insurance carrier. Then, the insurance carrier incorporates the report into the stipulation documents and sends it to the employee to sign. Third, the stipulation documents are sent to the workers’ compensation judge for approval. After approval, an employee begins receiving permanent disability benefits installments, and retains possession of a copy of the stipulation agreement to ensure receipt of future medical care that is needed to treat the disability.
Possible Issues with a Workers Compensation Stipulation
Disagreement can arise with regard to the percentage assigned to permanent disability. This is because a higher percentage will result in greater payout of benefits. Obviously, an injured employee will want more benefits, whereas an insurance carrier will want to pay out less. For this reason, the services of an experienced California workers’ compensation attorney will prove invaluable in negotiating for the highest possible percentage during the stipulation process.
An attorney will also make sure that you are compensated for every aspect of medical treatment covered in your doctor’s report on your injury, and will argue for any potentially necessary treatment not included in the report. During the stipulation process, your employer’s insurance carrier will be represented by skilled legal counsel; with your health and financial future at stake, make sure you are as well. Don’t leave money on the table with regard to your work-related injury; contact a dedicated California workers’ compensation attorney today.