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Workers Compensation Settlements: Stipulations, Schedule Loss of Use (SLU) Awards and Section 32 Agreements

Generally, a “settlement” is defined as an agreement between two parties – the point when a compromise is reached and the case is closed. Such a resolution may happen before or after a NY Workers Compensation Board action.  One important aspect of New York Workers’ Compensation Law is the security of long-term medical benefits. As such, there are very specific limits to the injured party’s right to release an employer or insurance carrier from liability for these long term benefits.  The injured worker must receive a substantial cash settlement amount to make it worth giving up these generous benefits. 
 However, if approved by the Worker’s Compensation Board, an agreement may be reached where their future benefits and compensation may be cut off.  This is often time done through a Section 32 settlement.
Why settle? Often, insurance carriers want to end legal conflict as soon as possible. The person who is injured may also simply be tired of dealing with insurance companies and want to move on with their life with a cash settlement in hand.
There are three basic kinds of settlement:
Stipulations may exist in writing or in the form of an on-the-record oral agreement.  Stipulations are generally used to resolve conflicts that arise in an ordinary case and can resolve either a single issue or all issues in a case(such as average weekly wage). Once a stipulation has been approved by the judge, the Board has limited power to review the issues it includes. For the most part, appeals from approved stipulations are very rare and usually involve a factual error pertaining to the settlement.
Schedule Loss of Use Awards (SLU’s) are awards given to injured workers who have permanent injures to certain body pats, most often extremity injuries.  New York Workers Compensation Schedule Loss of Use (SLU) Awards . It should be noted that an injured claimant can receive a Schedule Loss of Use Award without having to lose any time from work.
Section 32 Agreements allow for the resolution of specific issues or an entire case at any point during proceedings. It is generally considered the settlement of choice, and neither party is forced to enter into such a settlement.  The most important aspect of  a Section 32 Agreement is that the claimant is allowed to waive any or all past, present or future compensation and medical benefits.
If all future indemnity and medical benefits are waived, the employer and the carrier obtain a full release from future  claims for compensation and medical benefits. Such agreements must be approved by the Workers’ Compensation Board.  Section 32 Agreements that do not waive all rights (for example, those that reserve the right to medical treatment but waive future benefits) may be approved by a Workers Compensation Judge. The Board provides form C-32 for Section 32 Agreements, but the best protocol is for counsel to prepare a detailed description of the agreement reached, case history, and benefits waived using C-32 as a cover sheet.
If you have any questions regarding the pros and cons of entering a Section 32 settlement agreement, please call the New York Workers Compensation attorneys at Turley, Redmond and Rosasco toll free at 1-877-693-2529.
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