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January 16, 2016

3 Signals It’s Time to Close the Claim

Summary:

Some workers' comp claims develop a life of their own, and, before you know it, years have gone by. Here is how to get to a resolution.

Photo Courtesy of Moyan Brenn

Some workers’ compensation claims seem to have a life of their own. Before you know it, years have passed since the date of injury. Here are three signals telling you to take a hard look at settling now.

The Injured Workers Is 61 Years Old

Once an injured worker reaches age 62½, any buyout of future medical care must include a Medicare Set-Aside. (Buyout of medical benefits for an injured worker already on Medicare also requires a Medicare Set-Aside.) This adds work and delay. Sometimes, the MSA evaluation changes the parties’ view of the case. Stories abound about how the MSA process has torpedoed a settlement. Check your case inventory. If the injured worker is 61 years old, take steps now to close the claim before Medicare becomes a party to the proceedings.

Litigation Has Become a Way of Life

You’re in court every month. The number of claimed body parts keeps increasing; every treatment request is denied. Everyone mistrusts everyone else, including their own lawyers. Take a deep breath. Step back. This claim has a settlement value. The parties just need help figuring out what it is.

Trial Is Imminent

Nothing makes people think about settlement more than an upcoming trial date. You’ve lived with these facts for a long time; how can you be sure the judge will see things your way in the limited time available to put on the case?  Often, a judge’s order is just the gateway to even more litigation.

Going to trial is a risk. Most people are uncomfortable with the lack of control. They are happier with a negotiated settlement reached through compromise. You won’t get everything your way, but you won’t lose on every issue either. Most importantly, litigation can end.

Take the First Step

Approach the other side about scheduling a mediation. If communication has broken down, contact the mediator first, and let her work on bringing the parties together.

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About the Author

Teddy Snyder mediates workers’ compensation cases throughout California through WCMediator.com. An attorney since 1977, she has concentrated on claim settlement for more than 19 years. Her motto is, “Stop fooling around and just settle the case.”

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