A Clincher Agreement is “an agreement between the injured worker and the employer/insurance carrier to fully and finally settle the entirety of his or her claim, meaning that the injured worker gives up any and all rights to additional compensation, both medical and monetary, in exchange for a lump sum of money.”
The amount you should settle for differs depending on the type of injuries. These are the core types of Settlements.
A. The first task in any clincher agreement is to figure out the basic types of injuries. You may think you fall into one category when you really, with proper medical evaluation, fall into another category.
These are the basic injury and disability categories:
- Permanent Partial Disability Settlements, or ‘ratings only’ settlements — cases where the employee has returned to work at full duty after their injury or occupational disease, but their doctor has given them a disability percentage “rating”, or multiple ratings, on the part or parts of their body they injured.
- Temporary Total Disability Settlements — cases where there is a permanent partial disability of one or more body parts, as a result of injury or occupational disease, and the employee is given permanent work restrictions by their physician, and is currently unable to find suitable work within their restrictions, but there is a reasonable chance that they will be able to return to work within a reasonable amount of time.
- Partial Incapacity Settlements — these are cases where you have reached MMI (maximum medical improvement), and returned to some kind of employment, albeit at a lower wage than before your injury. In such case, you are entitled to 66 and 2/3% of the difference between your pre-injury and post return-to-work wages. This benefit was limited to 300 weeks of benefits, but has now been increased to 500 weeks for cases arising after June 24, 2011.
- Permanent and Total Disability Settlements — cases where either the clear opinions of the doctors are that the claimant is permanently and totally disabled due to their injury or occupational disease, or, because of a combination of the work injuries, age, skills, etc., the injured worker will be very unlikely to ever return to suitable employment. Although once entitled to lifetime benefits, now, for cases arising after June 24, 2011, there is a limitation of 500 weeks on these benefits, with a few exceptions; however, an employee who can prove they are still disabled may make a motion with the Commission at 425 weeks for an extension of benefits beyond the 500 weeks. Also, under the new changes to the law, there are certain limited categories of catastrophic injuries (paraplegia, quadriplegia, certain types of brain damage, certain types of catastrophic burns) who automatically still get the lifetime benefits, without limitation.
- Death Settlements — claims by dependents or next-of-kin for death of the worker which is either related or unrelated to an on the job injury or occupational disease.
B. The second task is to figure out the wage loss for each type of injury.
The beginning point is that employees are allowed 2/3 of their base wages until they can return to work or up to 500 weeks Adjustments are made depending for each type of injury or when death occurs. Your lawyer will make sure you know what adjustments and extensions apply.
C. The third task is to figure out the future medical bills and treatment for each type of injury.
Different injures have different medical issues. In some cases the medical treatment may be ended when you seek to settle. In other cases it may extend for weeks, months, years or even the remainder of your life.
D. The fourth task is to figure whether there are any other considerations.
If you’re getting Medicare benefits, how Medicare and a Clincher Agreement work together has to be considered. If you’re going through a divorce, you may need to speak with a divorce lawyer before you reach any agreement.
North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney Joe Miller Esq. knows when you should try settle your claim and when you rely on regular payments that the law requires. He’s helped clients for over a quarter of a century. Contact Joe Miller at www.JoeMillerInjuryLaw.com or by phone at 888-694-1671