California Workers Compensation Case – How Long To Expect A Settlement

California Workers Compensation

California Workers Compensation Law

California workers’ compensation claims can be settled prior to trial in two different ways, depending on the issues involved in the case. When the parties come to an agreement on the value of a case, taking into consideration the risks and rewards of trial on the merits, settlement is the outcome. How long it takes to agree on a value depends on what the parties know about the case as well as how amenable the sides are to compromising. Sometimes, lengthy discovery is necessary to determine all the issues involved.

For example, the parties may need to conduct depositions, subpoena past medical records of the claimant, and collect current and ongoing medical reporting to determine whether and/or how much the claimant will recover from the accident or cumulative trauma injury. Exercising these discovery tools takes a lot of time, and in many cases it takes well more than a year to complete discovery. This can cause a case to last longer. In short, the length of a case will depend most on the unquantifiable factor of how quickly the parties can agree to a value that both sides can live with.

In cases where the parties cannot agree upon a value at any point, the length of the case will then largely depend on how long it takes the applicant to reach maximum medical improvement (or MMI status). When MMI status is reached, the applicant will be issued a permanent and stationary report from the doctor (either the PTP, the PQME/AME or BOTH) that explain in detail the med-legal issues of the case. At that time, the case will have a determinable value that the judge can award or not award to the claimant.

Going All The Way To Trial

When cases go all the way to a trial on the merits, it means no settlement was able to be reached between the carrier and the claimant. The overall theme for cases that end up in trial is the parties seeing a particular factual or medical issue completely differently. When this occurs, the parties are like night and day when it comes to the contested issue, each seeing the issue in their own way with an uncompromising belief that they are correct. Unless both sides are willing to take a look at the disputed issue from the other’s perspective, compromise will most likely not be possible and the case will end up in court to be decided by the judge. Disputed issues could arise over Temporary Disability (TD) benefits, Permanent and Stationary (P&S) date, AOE/COE (whether injury is work related or not), nature and extent of injury, need for current medical care, need for future medical treatment, need for diagnostic testing, and so on. When smaller issues arise like need for diagnostics, smaller appeals processes and trials on those specific disputes can be had before the final trial in order to keep discovery moving forward.

Why Settlement Can Be Beneficial

Settlement can be beneficial for both the insurance company and the applicant. When fair value is had when taking into consideration the risks and rewards, both parties save money by cutting short the discovery process. They also eliminate risk. When the carrier settles, they get the liability of the applicant off the books. When the applicant settles, they eliminate the risk of adverse determinations at trial or adverse determinations by doctors in charge of providing expert medical reports on their case. Applicant’s further benefit by leaving the California workers’ compensation system altogether and gaining the ability to obtain better medical care and removing the stress of the lawsuit from their life. Leaving the system and obtaining medical treatment for the injury by other means can be so appealing that claimant will take less money to simply be done with the claim forever. Whatever the case, it is clear that when both are reasonable, it is a win-win scenario.

California Workers’ Compensation Case Length

Settle Workers Compensation Claim

Settle Workers Compensation Claim

Now that you have a little information about settlement of California work comp injury claims, it is easy to see that there is no certain way to determine how long a claim will last. While small cases that have few disputed issues will generally close faster than big cases with many disputed issues, that doesn’t mean that any particular minor case will be finished quickly or that a big case will take a long time. It depends on the parties willingness to compromise in some cases. In other cases, it depends on how long discovery takes in order to unearth the appropriate factual and medical details. So the final answer is that if you want an estimate on how long your work claim will take to conclude, you need an opinion from a lawyer with experience in the field of workmans comp law in California. While the lawyers estimate will not be a guarantee, it will be based upon an analysis of your particular case. What you find on this page is nothing more than generalizations that should only be applied by a professional to any particular case. However, it is important for the client to understand how their attorney comes to their predictions. I hope this helps you do just that.

If you are looking for a lawyer in your area to talk about a workers’ comp. case, we are available to speak with you over the phone or in person for a free legal consultation. Call 909-325-6032 to contact us. Visit calinjurylawyer.com for more information on us, our philosophy and the law.

 

 

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