How the Exact Wording in Your Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Compromise & Release Agreement Can Make a Big Difference
In workers’ compensation cases, as with almost any type of litigation matter, sometimes circumstances may dictate that it makes sense for you, as an injured worker, to settle your case. Settlement provides you with the certainty of a payout while avoiding the time, stress, and uncertainty involved in a legal contest. One way to settle your workers’ compensation case is by signing a Compromise & Release (C&R) agreement. An experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney can help you decide whether or not settling your case with a C&R agreement is a good move for you.
One recent case highlighting how this process works, and how important each provision in your C&R agreement can be, was the workers’ compensation action filed by Thomas, an employee of a communication company in Chester County. Thomas suffered serious injuries when he fell off a building while on the job. The fall broke both his feet, in addition to inflicting other injuries. The employee filed for workers’ compensation benefits.
Thomas decided to settle his case and sign a C&R agreement. In any C&R agreement you sign, it is very important that the document describe your injuries accurately and in a way that will cover everything related to your workplace accident. The agreement Thomas signed indicated that the covered injuries were ““[v]arious injuries and bodily parts including but not necessarily limited to fractured right and left feet” and that the employer agreed to “pay for all reasonable and necessary medical expenses that are related to the… acknowledged work-related injury.”
This description proved to be very important in Thomas’ case once the employer opposed paying certain medical bills the employee had incurred. The employer did not challenge the medical expenses related to the treatment of Thomas’ broken feet; it did, however, balk at the treatment the worker underwent for pain in those feet. The employer argued that the medical treatment in dispute was not treatment of the worker’s two fractured foot injuries and was, therefore, outside the scope of the C&R agreement as written. The Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board agreed with the employer, but the Commonwealth Court concluded that was incorrect.
The details in the wording of the signed agreement were key to Thomas’ success. As the Commonwealth Court pointed out, the agreement didn’t say that the employer agreed to pay for treatment for the broken fee and only the broken feet. The agreement instead said that the employer agreed to pay for all treatment related to the two fractured foot injuries. When a worker suffers pain in his feet after fracturing those feet in a fall, as Thomas had, there was “an obvious connection between the injury and the pain,” the court wrote. The only way the employer could have avoided being responsible for paying these bills was if it proved that the pain was a result of some injury other than the fall-induced fractures. This employer didn’t have any proof of that, so Thomas was entitled to have the employer pay for the foot pain treatment.
If you’ve been hurt at work, reach out to the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Needle Law Firm. Our team can help guide you through the entire process, every step of the way, whether you settle or litigate your claim. We have been providing knowledgeable representation and personalized attention to our clients for many years and are here to discuss your matter with you.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation by calling (570) 344-1266.