My company is closing my location. I am out on workers comp due to a broken tailbone. And awaiting an MRI. They just emailed me a severance package which appears as if I am giving up my workers comp claim in exchange for the severance. Is that right? If I accept this general release do I not get medical attention any longer?
Workers' Compensation Lawyer
A settlement of WC benefits must be approved by a Judge if there is a pending claim. The WCAB has Jurisdiction limited to WC, but their jurisdiction is also exclusive. The general waiver of claims will not apply unless you specifically include the WC claim, and run it past a WC Judge.
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Workers' Compensation Lawyer
You state that your company is closing your location. I take this to mean that your company is still in business. Assuming that your location is the only location in CA, it sounds like they are interested in getting out of maintaining workers compensation coverage in CA.
There are two ways to settle a workers' compensation case, by compromise and release (C&R) or by stipulations. Settlement by C&R is a lump sum settlement where you receive cash in lieu of future medical benefits. Settlement by stipulations allows you to continue to have medical benefits for your injury for the remainder of your life. Your company most likely wants to settle by C&R.
If you have a workers compensation case filed with the CA Workers' Compensation Appeals Board, then settlement of your claim would need to be approved by a WCAB judge.
I suggest contacting a local workers' compensation applicant attorney in your area to discuss your situation and help you value your case if you end up settling by C&R. www.caaa.org is an excellent resource to find local applicant attorneys.
The information provided above pertains to the law and is intended to help the person posting on this site with legal information. But legal information is not the same as legal advice, the application of law to an individual's specific circumstances. No guarantees are made as to the accuracy and applicability of the information provided to the person's situation and legal needs. It is recommended that the person consult with a lawyer in order to professionally evaluate their particular situation.
Employment / Labor Attorney
In reading your question, the responses and your comment after Mr. Corson's response, I suggest you amend the severance package to specifically NOT include the workers' compensation case in the waiver. You may need to go over the severance proposal with an employment attorney. Sometimes, all that is needed is to add a sentence to the end of the waiver paragraph stating "This paragraph does not apply to, or have any effect on, employee's workers' compensation claim no. ______." DO NOT RELY ON THIS AS LEGAL ADVICE because I have not reviewed your facts and documents. It is just something to discuss with an attorney.
Employment law is complicated and fact specific. You may wish to speak with an experienced plaintiffs employment attorney. To find a plaintiffs employment attorney in California, please go to the web site of the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA). CELA is the largest and most influential bar association in the state for attorneys who represent working people. The web site is www.cela.org, and you can search for attorneys by location and practice area.
I hope you can resolve your situation and wish you the best.
*** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***
DO NOT SIGN any release that includes your WC claim! Do not confuse your
job with your claim. Your company has a right to close its facility but
that has NOTHING to do with your WC claim. Losing your job is certainly
traumatic but it will have NO EFFECT on your WC benefits.
The best advice is for you to take your medical records and the severance
offer to an experienced WC attorney and have the attorney explain whether
your benefits under WC would be likely to meet or exceed the amount offered
in the severance package. The initial consult should be free. Good luck!
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