Based on the facts stated in your question, it sounds like your girl settled her case by Stipulation with Request for Award (Stips) and not a Compromise and Release (C&R).
A C&R is a comprehensive settlement in which the injured worker receives a final lump sum payment including money for future medical treatment. Once approved by the court, the worker can never seek any other benefits.
In Stips, on the other hand, the worker receives the permanent disability award in periodic payments every two weeks until what is owed is paid in full. Attorney's fee is "commuted" from the far end (last payments due) and paid within 30 days of the award being issued. The injured work retains the right to receive medical treatment for the injuries at the expense of the insurance carrier after the award.
The only other settlements in which there is a possibility of receiving installment payments after approval by the court are 'structured' settlements, usually on account of very serious or catastrophic injuries, in which an annuity insurance policy is purchased. Typically, these settlements are payable for the life of the injured person and guaranteed for a stated period of time, for example 10 years. If the injured person dies before the end of the guaranty period, balance of the payments up to 10 years are paid to whomever the worker designates.
Take a look at the papers. They say either C&R or Stips w/ Request for Award on Page 1 and the court issued either an "Award" or an "Order Approving Compromise and Release."
I agree with Mr. Laden.
There are two ways to settle a w.c. case. In a Stipulated Award, you get paid bi-weekly until the agreed upon money is all paid out. You do NOT get a lump sum payment. You do, however, get to continue to receive medical care, you probably can re-open if you get worse and you get job retraining vouchers.
The other way to settle is a Compromise and Release. In this settlement you get more $$ and you get it all at once, but it is a complete and final end to the case. No more $$, no more medical care, no retraining vouchers.
It sounds like your girlfriend settled by a Stipulated Award. Check her paperwork. Check with her attorney. Even if she settled by Stipulated Award, she may be able to go back and settle out the remaining issues of the case by Compromise and Release. She should talk to her attorney if that's what she wants to do.
STIPULATIONS WITH REQUEST FOR AWARD is a settlement where a check every two weeks.
Only the Compromise & RElease agreement -- a sort of 'divorce' between the worker and the insurer -- results in a one-time larger check.
You write papers were signed BUT there is no mention of having been mailed an AWARD. If there is no AWARD, perhaps the WCAB Judge REJECTED THE PROPOSED SETTLEMENT.
If the WCAB Judge decided the settlement amount was not high enough, then the judge would refuse to issue any award, and the insurer would be required to keep issuing checks every two weeks until a new settlement total sufficiently high to satisfy the judge was determined.
Is her attorney competent? Maybe. I'm thinking if your girlfriend wrote her counsel a letter requesting the award on the settlement and the terms of payment on the award, she'd get an answer in writing back and really know what happened.
THAT should be the next step.