I frequently speak with clients and prospective clients about settlements. When people speak of settlements, it can mean a variety of things. Sometimes people have the impression that permanent partial disability (PPD) awards are settlements. Strictly speaking, PPD awards are a benefit under the Industrial Insurance Act, not a settlement. Therefore, most attorneys (myself included) don’t consider PPD awards a settlement.
What is structured settlement in L&I claims?
In State funded workers’ compensation claims, when we speak of settlements, we usually mean structured settlements or CRSSAs. If you are over 50 years old and have an accepted claim that is older than 180 days, you may be eligible for CRSSA. Applying for CRSSA is relatively easy, but this does not mean CRSSA is right for everyone.
While CRSSA can be an efficient way to get out from underneath an oppressive claim, in my opinion, CRSSAs serve as appropriate claim resolution only in a small fraction of the claims I handle.
In order to take effect, CRSSAs must be approved by the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals (BIIA). In order for the Board to approve a CRSSA, the agreement must conform to RCW 51.04.063 and WAC 263-12-052. Before approving a CRSSA, the Board will determine whether the agreement is in the injured workers’ best interest. Typically, if the Board disapproves a CRSSA it will provide specific reasons for the disapproval. Assuming those reasons can be remedied, a new or corrected CRSSA can be submitted to the Board for further consideration.
Should I hire an attorney before entering a structured settlement?
Before any injured worker enters into a CRSSA, it is critical they understand the ramifications of entering into such an agreement. Clients must know that they may be giving up certain benefits that they might be entitled to under the Industrial Insurance Act. It is a very complex topic. This is one reason why injure workers should seek experienced advice before entering into such agreement.