Under the Workers’ Compensation Law (WCL) there is a precise section of the law that permits final resolution of your claim for indemnity and medical benefits.This section is known as Section 32 of the WCL. It is a formal agreement, presented to the WCB where the parties resolve all issues and is not subject to an appeal by any side. ( ie., any party). In some but not all cases, all rights including medical responsibilities for future causally related problems / care are eliminated. Since the WCL was created as the exclusive forum to resolve and bring claims for on the job injuries or occupational diseases caused by the work environment; the WCL does not permit unintended waivers of the protections under the WCL. Since a section 32 settlement alters the parties rights; the WCB does not permit these rights to be waived or modified lightly.
Therefore, a section 32 claim is presented in writing and attested to by the parties before the WCB in a formal hearing setting. The Workers Compensation Board requires the claimant to be questioned about the content of their settlement and their understanding of same. The trier of fact , usually a law judge, has to determine whether the claimant and all parties understand the full implications of such an agreement. The law judges are given wide latitude in evaluating whether the claimants are fully aware ( cognizant) of the significance of the settlement agreement. The formal determination of the WCB requires a 10 day cooling off period after the presentation of the settlement to the trier of fact ( usually judge) before the agreement can be published and becomes final and binding.
At the present time, when you want to settle your case by way of sec 32, future medical costs based upon past treatment and prescription usage can be subject to review by the Federal Government for those individuals on Medicare or who are Medicare eligible within 30 months of the settlement. This review is known as obtaining CMS approval. Due to the back log of cases, such CMS review and approval has been taking more than 180 calendar days after formal submission for approval has been made to the agency authorized to make such approvals.
As stated throughout this blog all cases are different and require detailed discussion with your legal representative and therefore this blog should be read in such context and the Disclaimer found throughout. These discussions are just that , discussion for educational purposes on general areas and are not case specific.