In some workers’ compensation cases, the injured employee has suffered some form of permanent disability, as the result of a complex injury.
In those types of cases, the injured employee’s medical condition is likely to change as time passes, often in unforeseen ways. In these situations, where there is a question or concern about the future status of your medical condition, it is crucial that you obtain a stipulation agreement in workers’ comp cases.
That way you can protect your rights and ensure that you can obtain future medical care.
If you or someone you know has suffered a permanent disability as the result of a work-related injury, you should contact a workers’ compensation lawyer today. A workers’ comp lawyer can help you get the compensation and medical treatment you need.
What are PPD Benefits and How Do They Affect My Claim?
Permanent partial disability (PPD) claims are actually the most common type of workers’ compensation cases.
They make up more than 50% of all workers’ comp claims in the United States. These types of claims are typically caused by either a work-related injury or an occupational disease. In order for your claim to be considered a PPD claim, there must be some form of permanent impairment, which makes you unable to perform at your full capacity. These types of claims are different from total disability claims, where the employee cannot work at all.
How Can I Receive PPD Benefits?
In the workers’ compensation arena, the employee (or claimant) can obtain permanent partial disability benefits in three different ways:
- A settlement,
- An order from the Worker’s Compensation Commission, or
- A stipulation with request for reward.
There are significant differences between a settlement and a stipulation.
What Is Stipulation?
Stipulations resolve most workers’ compensation cases. A stipulation is an agreement that outlines the important details of your settlement. A stipulation agreement allows you to resolve an individual claim within your workers’ compensation case without resolving the entire case.
How Does Stipulation Work?
When parties stipulate to a PPD award, they are stipulating to the degree of disability, as well as the employee’s entitlement to future medical care. The injured worker’s right to future medical treatment is covered by his or her employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of a Stipulation?
Like other forms of resolution in workers’ compensation cases, stipulation agreements have both advantages and disadvantages.
The biggest advantage of stipulation agreements for most injured workers is that the stipulation usually allows you to get lifetime medical care for your injuries. It allows you to make a demand on your employer or claims administrator for medical treatment for your injuries for the remainder of your life. Stipulation agreements can also require your employer or claims administrator to pay for your treatment.
Additionally, stipulation agreements provide an injured worker with the opportunity to reopen their case if their injury gets worse. However, the right to reopen your case is usually limited to five years after you suffered your injury, but can vary from agreement to agreement.
The most notable disadvantage of stipulation agreements is that they generally offer a lower monetary award compared to other forms of dispute resolution. Unlike settlements, which usually result in a higher lump-sum payment, stipulations usually contain provisions for periodic payments to cover some of the injured worker’s lost wages.
However, you should compare the effect of a lower monetary award with the security of receiving medical treatment for the rest of your life.
Why Should I Stipulate?
You should stipulate because it is the only way to protect your rights to future medical care for your injuries.
For many injured workers, their biggest concern surrounds their right to future medical care. If ensuring future medical care for your injuries with the right to make a demand that your employer or claims administrator pay for your treatment is your greatest concern, you should strongly consider entering into a stipulation agreement.
What Does a Stipulation Provide?
Usually, a stipulation provides you with the right to reopen your case within five years of your date of injury to obtain additional benefit for new and further disability. Temporary disability, however, is limited depending on the date of injury.
When the parties establish a stipulation regarding a PPD award, they are agreeing to the following:
- The claimant is disabled;
- The claimant will receive a specific PPD award;
- There is no need for a hearing on this matter;
- The claimant may reopen their claim, usually within five years; and
- The claimant is entitled to reasonable medical treatment for the injury for the remainder of their life.
This is different from a settlement, in that a claimant who reaches a settlement cannot reopen his or her claim and cannot receive any future medical treatment unless it is specifically addressed in the settlement agreement.
It is crucial that employees understand that, if they settle instead of entering into a stipulation, they are waiving all future rights to any benefits that are not expressly included in the settlement agreement.
How Can a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Help Me?
Attorney Wesley Cottrell has over 30 years of experience helping clients who have suffered work-related injuries. His goal is to make the workers’ compensation claims process less stressful for you, so you can focus on treating your injuries.
If you have questions regarding stipulations, settlements, or any other workers’ compensation issues, call the Cottrell Law Office at (800) 364-8305.
We will fight to get you the medical treatment and compensation you deserve.