1-30-12; “Close your file, defense counsel, we settled your defense assignment and we are having your opponent fill out the Lump Sum Settlement Contracts.”

We have heard this one in the past and want to insure our readers understand a couple of very important things. Lump sum settlement contracts are one of the best things about the IL WC system to the extent you can close, close, close exposure. You can cut off all rights to medical, lost time and permanency in the right claim in this state. But you have to have a defense attorney handling it who knows the rules and what they need to do. If you allow Petitioner’s counsel to do the settlement contracts and try to save $150 or so at the time of settlement, you are potentially opening a major can o’ worms, folks.

In Ridgeway v. TLC, Inc., the IWCC considered a claim where:

A.    Claimant broke an ankle.

B.    The matter “settled” for 40% LOU foot.

C.   Whoever drafted the settlement contracts didn’t include language to close rights under Section 8a and 19h of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.

D.   When that language isn’t in a settlement contract, it is the equivalent of what we call a “green sheet”—it is a payment of permanency for which you get credit. No other WC rights are immediately affected and lots of them remain open.

E.    Sometime after the settlement was approved, claimant came back in and sought wage loss.

F.    The Commission didn’t think he had enough evidence for it.

G.   So instead, they gave him 35% BAW for “loss of trade,” whatever that is. We have no idea how they come up with that number by a preponderance of the evidence or how you defend such a nebulous concept.

H.   At max PPD rates, that moderately shocking new award is $116,326.00. On top of the 40% LOU foot they already paid.

I.      And lifetime medical rights for the ankle injury remain open.

J.    Ouch.

Please do not let Petitioner’s attorneys draft settlement contracts for your disputed or even simple and accepted claims. If you make that claims mistake, don’t blame petitioners’ counsels if things go poorly—you know it is their ethical job to protect their clients and not you. At KC&A, we handle literally millions and millions in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan and Longshore Harbor WC settlements every year. We have Shawn R. Biery, J.D., MSSC who is Medicare-certified and can assist with any CMS or Medicare concerns at any time but particularly at the time you are seeking closure via settlement. We have at least three important tools everyone on the defense side should use when closing all rights at the time of settling an IL WC claim. We assure you most claimant attorneys aren’t going to implement some or all of them.

In summary, we know the rules. If you want a defense attorney to fully protect you and your account at the time of settlement, we can draft, review and approve settlement documents in any jurisdiction listed above for one hour of legal work!! If you are interested, call or reply.