Make Sure that Your Settlement of Your Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Case Doesn’t Cut Off Other Rights
Settlements can, in some circumstances, be very beneficial ways to resolve certain types of cases. Settlements may allow you to avoid the stress and time almost inevitably expended on a lengthy litigation process. They may also allow you to get THE compensation you need on a more expedited basis. It is important to keep in mind, however, that a settlement may not be the best move for everyone in every case. In some cases, depending on their particular facts, it may be better for you to go forward and litigate your case. An experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney can help you make these and other vital choices.
Take, as an example, the case of Craig, who worked for a farmers’ market in Reading. One summer day in 2014, Craig got hurt at work. The injured man wisely took prompt action, including filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. He also took a leave from work for roughly one week. Eventually, Craig made it back to work on August 26, but, two weeks later, the employer fired him.
Eight months after the injury, Craig and the employer resolved the workers’ compensation claim through something called a “Compromise & Release Agreement.” This type of agreement, sometimes called “C&R” for short, essentially formalizes the terms of the settlement of your workers’ compensation case.
A settlement (and signing a C&R) can be useful for some workers. Even if you decide that a settlement is the best path, it is important to proceed carefully and understand exactly what is, and what is not, in your C&R before you sign it. In some situations, the terms of your C&R may prevent you from proceeding in other types of claims that you might have against your employer.
For Craig, this proved to be an issue, but he was able to emerge successful. Craig, as it turns out, had a potential claim against his employer for the way it handled his leave from work following his injury. Craig’s lawsuit accused the employer of violating the Family and Medical Leave Act and also accused the employer of illegally retaliating against him for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
The employer attempted to block Craig from suing on the basis that the C&R barred him from doing so. The C&R was a settlement of all claims between Craig and the employer, so that settlement blocked him from launching a new lawsuit under the FMLA, the employer argued.
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Craig could proceed with his federal case. The injured man and his lawyers had correctly concluded that the language in the C&R only settled any and all claims for damages related to Craig’s work injury. Craig’s new lawsuit sought damages from the employer for the harm he suffered as a result of the employer’s violations of federal law (FMLA) as well as the common law. The C&R didn’t cover it, and Craig could go forward.
If you’ve been hurt at work, make sure you have experienced counsel on your side to advise and represent you at every step of the way. The skilled Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorneys at Needle Law Firm have been providing knowledgeable advocacy and personalized attention to our clients for many years and are here to put our skills to work for you.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation by calling 570-344-1266.