It is especially crucial to consult with an experienced and knowledgeable Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney before agreeing to a lump sum settlement of a workers’ compensation claim. For 110 years, Powell Law has litigated Pennsylvania workers compensation actions and obtained benefits for injured Pennsylvania workers.
Employers agree to such one-time settlements because they expediently dispose of a matter once and for all. For workers, the advantage of a settlement is that it immediately provides an amount representing the aggregate value of a claim, thereby replacing regular payments over an extended period of time, even years.
To accomplish this, Pennsylvania workers and employers typically utilize a Compromise and Release Agreement by Stipulation (Form LIBC-755) This agreement is not valid and binding unless a workers’ compensation judge approves it.
A Compromise and Release Agreement should always provide for additional terms in the agreement stating that the agreement constitutes final resolution of the alleged work injury claim. This language is utilized to protect the employers and their insurance carriers from subsequent workers’ compensation claims alleging new or different injuries related to or arising from the original injury.
Workers must be especially careful when asked to sign an agreement containing provisions waiving claims other than workers compensation claims. In Zuber v. Boscov’s, No. 5:2015cv03874 – Document 17 (E.D. Pa. 2016), after Zuber filed a claim under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), the Defendant moved for dismissal arguing that the Compromise and Release Agreement entered into by Zuber in settlement of his workers’ compensation claim contained provisions which barred the FMLA claim.
The agreement provided that it constituted a “full and final resolution of all aspects of the 8/12/2014 alleged work injury claim and its sequela whether known or unknown at this time.” The judge dismissed Zuber’s FMLA claims holding that this language was legally broad enough to encompass the FMLA claim because the agreement’s plain language did not limit the waiver to workers’ compensation claims. Obviously, Zuber had not intended to waive his FMLA claim in the Compromise and Release Agreement.
So what is the lesson of the Zuber case? A worker must never sign an agreement which settles and releases a workers’ compensation claim without a complete understanding of the terms and provisions of the agreement. In this case, a worker should always consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
In these cases, it is best that a worker make sure that any and all language inserted into a Compromise and Release Agreement is limited solely to a release and waiver of claims under Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation law. Never sign a document containing a provision stating that you are waiving any and all claims related to your work injury. The waiver should only apply to workers’ compensation claims related to a work injury. Otherwise, the consequences may be irreversible and financially severe.
Communication and coordination between attorney and client are essential to a mutual understanding of all of the claims an injured worker may pursue against an employer. For 110 years, Powell Law has represented Pennsylvania workers in workers’ compensation cases in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area. Consult an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney. Contact Powell Law at (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE!