The typical "settlement" in a worker's compensation case involves the award of a permanent partial disability award (PPD) when an injured worker can return to work. Occasionally, a severely injured worker will not return to work, and will obtain a pension -- payments for life.
In 2011 the Washington Legislature established a new way to settle a Labor and Industries case, with a Claim Resolution Structured Settlement Agreement, or CRSSA for short.
A CRSSA is possible if the worker is at least 50 years old. It covers all future benefits such as time loss, PPD, or pension payments. A CRSSA does not cover medical benefits -- a worker will still be able to reopen a claim for treatment.
A structured settlement simply means that the money is paid out over time, depending on how big the settlement is. The initial payment can be as high as six times the average monthly wage in Washington State. Currently, the average monthly wage is $4,716. Six times that amount is $28,296. Any subsequent payments can be as high as $7,074 per month.
The big question for a worker is -- should I do this? The worker will be giving up all future PPD awards, time loss compensation, and a possible pension. If the worker's condition deteriorates in the future and interferes with the ability to work, future damages can easily exceed a CRSSA settlement. For some injured workers, a CRSSA is not a good idea. For others, it may be. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you evaluate your specific situation and decide.
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