Greetings, there are things you should never talk about in polite conversation; politics, religion, and the general release and resignation in a Worker’s Compensation settlement.
Many carriers take the position that the adjuster should have no knowledge or dealings with the general release as that is between the employer and the claimant, although it is usually an essential part of the settlement. That position is understandable because of prior litigation where the carrier has been implicated in forcing the claimant to execute a general release. It is a delicate nuanced balance that we as your defense attorneys have to negotiate.
In pure logical terms, the insurance company doesn’t want to pay for settling a back injury, and the claimant is still employed and “re-injures” his back the day after the settlement. The E/C just paid for nothing.
An issue has come up recently on one of my claims, and I’ve seen it a few times in the past. If the claimant is laid off by the employer, they are sometimes given a severance package. That severance package usually contains general release language in itself, often saying it releases the employer from any Worker’s Compensation claims.
However, that is not going to hold up as a release of the open pending Worker’s Compensation claim because an unrepresented claimant cannot settle their case unless it is approved by the Worker’s Compensation JCC. However, if the claimant is represented, and an attorney reviewed that severance package, it may actually hold up. Just be aware of this if there is a severance package in any of your claims.
Also, if we have to file a Motion to Enforce the settlement, and we win, the JCC will enforce the settlement of the WC claim, but can not force the claimant to sign a GR and R. The reason is that is outside the realm of WC and the JCC authority. So we really would rather have them sign the documents, rather than file the Motion to Enforce, unless we have to do so.
Morgan Indek | Partner