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Workers Comp 101: I've settled my case - now what?
C. Jeremy Lagasse, Esq. Jun 28, 2021 12:00:00 AM
First off, allow me to congratulate you on reaching a settlement. A settlement is a compromise, which means you likely didn’t get everything you would have hoped for, but rather it was a better option than facing the risks associated with continuing litigation. Deciding whether to settle a case is often not an easy decision, and you should be commended for considering your options and making a decision that will protect your best interests.
Settlements in workers’ compensation cases can take many different forms, and they usually involve a lot of conditions and details. Because the workers’ compensation system includes opportunities for many different types of benefits, it is possible to settle some or all of the benefits, and to settle claims up to the present or for all time.
Once a case is settled, it is now up to the parties to prepare a document called a stipulation for settlement. According to Minn. R. 1420.2050, a stipulation for settlement must be filed within 45 days from the date the parties agree to settle. Along the way, the court will notify the parties and remind them to abide by the timeline.
One of the main causes for delay is when medical providers, health insurance companies, providers of disability benefits, or other parties have outstanding bills or subrogation claims that need to be addressed with the settlement so that your rights are protected. Third parties with these kinds of claims are called intervenors and they can sometimes be slow to respond, or there may be so many intervenors that it takes a long time to clear all of the claims on your case. This can be frustrating, so be sure to ask your attorney if you have questions or concerns.
Once all of the details of the stipulation for settlement are finalized, and any potential claims for intervenors are addressed, the document is signed and filed with the court. Now it is the court’s job to approve it. According to Minn. Stat. 176.521, a judge needs to approve the settlement to make sure it is “reasonable, fair, and in conformity” with the law, especially when a settlement is “full, final, and complete,” meaning that medical benefits will be closed. The judges work very hard to get these approved, and typically respond within a week or two from when the stipulation is filed.
Once the stipulation for settlement is approved, the court will send out an “Award on Stipulation,” and the insurance company or employer covering your claim must issue your settlement payment within fourteen days.