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Brandon, Esq.
Brandon, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 1769
Experience:  Has received a certificate of recognition from the California State Senate for his outstanding legal service.
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I need a advice ..I was in workers compensation for 10 months

Customer Question

I need a advice ..I was in worker's compensation for 10 months but now the QME doctor say i can go back to work,my employer wants me to settle the case but they want me to sign my voluntary resignation..I have worked in that company for almost 25yrs.

Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Brandon, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Employment-LawExpert :

Hello and thank you for your question today

Employment-LawExpert :

Are you online with me?

Employment-LawExpert :

First, let me say that I am terribly sorry that you have found yourself in this situation. It is a terrible shame when an employer tries to use the system to their advance. While I cannot create an attorney client relationship with you and tell you what to do, I can tell you that it is almost always a bad idea to sign a voluntary resignation without a significant severance package.

Employment-LawExpert :

Welcome to the chagt


 

Employment-LawExpert :

chat

Employment-LawExpert :

Currently, as a result of a workers compensation claim, you are entitled to all lost wages, and all medical bills as a result of your work related injury. Additionally, your employer is prohibited from retaliating against you as a result of your claim.

Employment-LawExpert :

So, if your employer was to fire you, then you would have an additional claim for retaliation against them.

Customer:

sorry my english is not that good but I will try my best

Employment-LawExpert :

If at any time you do not understand something, please ask.

Customer:

I was in worker comp for 10 months and last week i got the results from the QME doctor he send me back to work with no restrictions

Customer:

but the claim agent call me today they wants to give me $500 for medicine and $2000 for settlement but i will have to sign my voluntary resignation

Customer:

I have worked in that company for almost 25yrs

Employment-LawExpert :

That sounds like a terrible deal. You are entitled to your medicine, as well as treatment from a doctor. Also, you are entitled to any lost wages that you may have had over the last 10 months. Do you feel okay to return to work? 100%?

Customer:

yes

Customer:

I got my check every 15 days

Employment-LawExpert :

So you have no lost wages?

Customer:

not lose wages at all,got my medical services too

Customer:

they wants to meet with me to sign my voluntary resignation if I accept the money

Customer:

but I refuse the settlement now I don not what to do

Employment-LawExpert :

So, the law states that the company may not fire you as a result of a workers compensation claim. However, the law also states that the company only had to keep your job for the first 12 weeks. However, if you are 100% able to return to work, and if they have not fired you yet, it will be difficult for them to point to a "legitimate business interest" as the reason you would be terminated. So, you have two options. You can 1) get an attorney involved who will take a percentage of your settlement, or 2) negotiate a much better settlement for yourself. If they fire you, they would have to defend against a retaliation claim which would cost them a minimum of $10,000 (more likely 20)

Employment-LawExpert :

Does that make sense?

Employment-LawExpert :

If you decide to hire an attorney, a great resource is www.Martindale.com. This is a nationwide directory that is useful in finding highly qualified legal specialists in various fields of law. The lawyers in Martindale are not selected because they paid to be included, but rather because they have been rated by other attorneys as qualified experts in their field. Consider consulting with two or three different attorneys prior to selecting the one you feel most comfortable with. In a case like yours, an attorney would take the case on contingency, which means that you would pay nothing out of pocket.

Customer:

what will happend if I refuse the settlement ..did I will be needing an Attorney?

Employment-LawExpert :

They are required to pay you for all lost wages, and all medical bills as a result of your accident. If you refuse the settlement, then they have to let you come back to work or face a much larger lawsuit (definitely get an attorney at that point) However, they may not have to pay you the $2,500 if you can not show that you need that money for any medical treatment, medicine, or other things. If you know you will need medicine in the future, they are required to pay you for that until you sign the release.

Employment-LawExpert :

Does that make sense?

Employment-LawExpert :

if they were to not let you come back to work, they would still have to pay all of your lost wages (from not being able to come back to work) as well as your medical bills, as well as compensatory damage (emotional distress, economic damage, non-economic damage, etc.) as well as possible punitive damages.

Customer:

yes The QME doctor recomend otc medicine that is why they insurence offer me $500 and the rest is from my employer

Employment-LawExpert :

Do you believe that $500 will sufficiently compensate you for all of the otc medicine you will need for the rest of your life? Because once you sign the release, you cannot reopen this in the future. What you get is what you get

Customer:

no I have bad liver as a reult of all the medicine I have take for over a year...I have suffer a lot pain too

Customer:

Did you recomend to get the lawyer first or after I need to make an appointmen with my employers asap

Employment-LawExpert :

Unfortunately, workers compensation law does not allow payment for the pain you have suffered. However, retaliation law does. So, in reaching a settlement, you need to see exactly what you may need, especially if you still need otc medicine. Additionally, if you still need otc medicine, you may not be at 100%. You may be able to do your job, but you may actually have a disability rating. Just because one doctor does not see it, does not mean another doctor won't. If you are in ANY pain, whatsoever, I would suggest speaking with a lawyer immediately before making an appointment with your employer. However, you do not want to put off an appointment with your employer because you need to show that you are ready and able to work immediately. Any showing other than this could result in a legitimate termination, since it has been 10 months.

Customer:

and what kind of lawyer I will be needing?

Employment-LawExpert :

A workers compensation attorney

Employment-LawExpert :

You can go to www.Martindale.com or any other lawyer referral service and type in "workers compensation" and the town or county in which you live

Employment-LawExpert :

A number of names will pop up. If they want to charge you a consultation fee, consider hanging up and calling the next one on the list.

Customer:

ok I will look for one right away

Employment-LawExpert :

Have I fully answered your question today?

Customer:

yes thank you very much

Employment-LawExpert :

Not a problem. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further. If you do not require any further assistance, I would be most grateful if you would remember to provide my service a positive rating, as this is the only way I will receive credit for assisting you. Have a wonderful rest of your day.

Customer:

same to you

Brandon, Esq., Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 1769
Experience: Has received a certificate of recognition from the California State Senate for his outstanding legal service.
Brandon, Esq. and 2 other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Brandon, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Our chat has ended, but you can still continue to ask me questions here until you are satisfied with your answer. Come back to this page to view our conversation and any other new information.

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hello I have and update about my question .I went to meet with a lawyer and he told me isn't much that he can do for me ,but he say the company have to hire me back and he advised me not to sign any settlement for my case,and I have to ask to the Insurance who handled my claim for Stipulation with request for award 0% per disability with open medical treatment ..now my question is what going to happen if the Insurance won't give me those stipulations . I'm refusing to signing those papers to close my claim .I still need medical treatment and medicine because i'm not 100%

Expert:  Brandon, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Did you speak to a workers compensation attorney, or a different type of attorney? If you refuse to sign the papers, your claim still remains open, and you can recover payments for your partial disability as well as any lost wages or medical expenses. (you will likely get 2/3rds of your normal wages) Since you want to work, and are able to work, then the choice is yours as to whether or not you want to receive 100% of your wages and work, or 2/3rds of your wages and not work. However, once you sign, that is it. You will receive no more money from them no matter what the reason. So, if you want to go back to work, receive 100% of your wages, and still have all of your medical treatment paid for, then you need to make sure they sign off on the stipulation. Otherwise, you would need to bring a lawsuit against them within one year of the last time they paid you anything, or the time in which you were injured, whichever is later.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Ok now I'm a bit confused. The worker's comp lawyer saw my QME report and once he read it, then he told me there is nothing he can help me with because the doctor had said I have 0% permanent disability. He told me to contact the insurance company handling my worker's comp case and ask a stipulation with request for award 0% perm disability and open medical treatment. He explained that this would leave the claim open for me to continue to receive medical treatment for my hand once i return back to work. But when I spoke to the insurance company representative she sounded glad to accept those terms and said she was glad I wanted to settle my claim. So was that the right advise? From your explanation, it seems that I am entitled to more?

Expert:  Brandon, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
As I have not seen the QME report, I cannot tell you definitively, however, having some portion of pd allows an attorney to get you a much larger settlement. The fact that you have none, suggests that this attorney was unwilling to get involved because there wouldn't be a large enough fee for him. However, he mentions that he wants you to receive an award for a 0% disability. Make sure that you effectively communicate this to the insurance company. There are certain types of damages which you are entitled to if you are injured at work, all of which I mentioned above. Here is a website which goes into each of them in more detail.

http://www.josephwaxman.com/about.html#temporary_disability

So, he was not saying get nothing. He was saying get what you are entitled to under the law for a 0% permanent disability. In addition to this, get a stipulation allowing you unlimited medical treatment related to the injury into the future. So, the first part would be in leau of the $2,000 and the second part would be in leau of the $500. So, again, I cannot tell you if this was the right advise, all I can do is help you understand the law as it applies to your situation and make sure there wasn't any miscommunication. That being said, it never hurts to get a second opinion if you want to call two or three other attorneys on the list. Of course, you mention that you have been getting paid this entire time, so, if they are willing to take you back, and if they are willing to keep paying your medical bills, then it may have been good advice. What you have to watch out for, is that the insurance company is trying to get you to settle so as to limit their overall liability. So, if you are still injured in any way, this settlement will prevent you from receiving any temporary disability in the future. Just because the QME doctor says something, doesn't make it true, and you are allowed to get a second opinion. You need to look at 1) are they actually willing to give you your job back, and 2) Are you still in pain in any way before making your decision.

Workers compensation is not meant to give people an amazing payout. It is meant to help people during an injury recover. Look at the website I sent you, see if you are entitled to any of these additional benefits, and possibly call a few more attorneys on Martindale.com if you feel that you are entitled to more than they are offering you.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I understand. I want to go back to work. Unfortunately, I don't have any other options because I need my medical insurance and I still have bills to pay. My main concern was to get my job back, but still continue to recieve medical treatment for my injury. I do feel about 90% better, but I am afraid that once I start working my injury will "flare" up and I will continue to have pain. The worker's comp doctor treating me said that this type of injury takes a long time, rest, and meds to recover however, this type of injury could easily happen again because I would be doing the same type of work. He recommended I do another type of work instead. As I said, I have no other choice, but to return. So from what you're telling me, if I sign this stipulation, then the case would be closed and I could not open it again if once I start working I continue to have pain? I already called the insurance company and told them exactly what the attorney told me to say since my employer already called me today to come back to work on monday. The attorney told me that if I get injured again or have pain again I could continue to have medical treatment since I am asking for open medical treatment. And today the representative from the insurance company said they would draft up a settlement and give me three days to respond.

Expert:  Brandon, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
That is correct. If you sign the stipulation, then the case would be closed. While you could open up a new case for a new injury, you could not re-open this case for this injury. (and the insurance will guaranteed relate any future pain to this injury). However, if the stipulation in the settlement allows for future treatment, then you would be allowed to get future treatment. So, if your main concerns are to go back to work, and still be able to receive medical treatment (that they pay for) then it sounds like this is exactly what this stipulation will do for you. Just make sure that you are well enough to actually do the job. If you sign an agreement stating that you give up all right to bring a lawsuit against them, and you are too injured to do this job, then you will end up without the ability to be compensated and without a job (as you can't do the essential functions of the job) But again, if you think you can do the job, and if your main concern is getting the future treatment when needed, then just make sure that you carefully read whatever it is that you sign, so that there are no surprises.

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