A Section 32 settlement in New York is an agreement between an injured worker and their employer’s insurance company or a third-party administrator responsible for processing workers’ compensation payments. This agreement is a mutually-agreed-upon contract between injured laborer and employer guaranteeing a one-time, generally tax-free, lump-sum settlement in exchange for the worker’s agreement to resolve some or all aspects of their case. The lump sum is taken instead of weekly payments that may continue over a long period of time. This agreement must be approved by the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board.
What is a Section 32 Settlement in New York and Why Accept It?
Section 32 is a very specific subsection of workers’ compensation law. For injured workers with no outstanding liens or legal judgments, Section 32 settlements are often the best way to maximize the potential of their claim, but there are times when it is not advantageous to accept it.
Advantages of Section 32 settlements include:
- Since the settlements are agreed upon by both the laborer and the employer, a Section 32 settlement can avoid and bypass additional litigation and debate.
- A lump-sum settlement can help an injured worker who is struggling financially to pay off mounting bills.
- A settlement eliminates the chance that a worker may lose at a workers’ compensation hearing.
There are dangers in accepting a Section 32 settlement, however. Section 32 settlements usually end a workers’ compensation case for good, eliminating the chance of getting a better settlement in the future. Also, if you run through your Section 32 lump settlement quickly, you are left without income at a time when you may still be unable to work.
Therefore, you should make sure you understand your claim’s value and what rights you are giving up by agreeing to a Section 32 lump settlement. This should involve doing a careful analysis of your future lost-wage and medical benefits to determine whether such a settlement is right for you.
Workers’ compensation laws are complicated, so it makes sense to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer before signing any settlement agreement to learn your options, or you may wind up losing out. An inexperienced attorney or an unrepresented claimant may not know whether they are being offered a fair deal or whether there are other ways to go about enhancing the value of one’s benefits package.
The skilled and seasoned workers’ compensation attorneys at Kaplan Lawyers PC understand the benefits as well as the pitfalls involved with Section 32 settlements and can counsel you on the best decision for you. At Kaplan Lawyers PC, our team of lawyers for injured workers has handled countless workers’ compensation cases. If you are thinking about reaching a Section 32 settlement, we can help evaluate your situation and advise you about whether pursuing a Section 32 is the best option available to you.
Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation to examine your individual situation. Call Kaplan Lawyers PC at (516) 399-2364.
Section 32 Lump Settlement or Stipulation?
In New York, besides Section 32, there is another type of settlement, called a stipulation agreement. Stipulation agreements occur in cases where you and the insurance company agree on both the extent of your disability and how much you should receive in workers’ compensation benefits. If this happens, you and the insurance company would sign a stipulation agreement, confirming the amount you will receive, usually on a weekly basis.
An advantage of a stipulation agreement is that it can be modified with Board approval if your circumstances change and you become eligible for additional benefits. With a Section 32 agreement, you only have ten days after your settlement hearing to cancel in writing or the settlement is final, even if your condition worsens.
In both cases, agreements require a judge’s approval. For a stipulation agreement, you will have a settlement hearing, where the judge will review your settlement to make sure it is fair and reasonable and that you understand the terms of your settlement.
If you have a lawyer, the judge will usually approve your settlement without intense scrutiny, but if you do not have a lawyer, you will probably be questioned extensively before the judge makes a final decision. With so much at stake, you should hire an experienced New York workers’ compensation attorney before attending a settlement hearing. Contact the injury layers at Kaplan Lawyers PC to evaluate any settlement offer you are considering.
What Should I Consider Before a Settlement?
When formulating the terms of a settlement agreement, there are many variables at play. Here are some of the many things our experienced team of attorneys know are taken into consideration:
- Claimant’s age
- Claimant’s occupation
- Claimant’s occupational history
- Claimant’s medical history
- The injury or illness in question
- Claimant’s ability to work
- Claimant’s need for future medical care
- Claimant’s prior workers’ compensation cases, if any
- Whether the claimant has sought legal representation.
Your settlement amount will vary depending on the severity of your injuries, your pre-injury wages, and other factors. There may also be conflicting evidence as to how and why the injury occurred that can impact the value of your claim. There may be expenses that can be deducted from your settlement, such as legal costs and attorney fees, and also an amount that would cover future medical expenses if you are eligible for Medicare.
In general, you should not settle until your injuries have fully healed and your doctors do not expect further improvement. Before this point, it’s difficult to know how severe your injury is and how much it will impact your ability to earn a living.
Remember, once a Section 32 settlement is made, your case is considered closed and you are entitled to nothing further. All this should be considered before deciding whether to accept any settlement. By taking into account all of these and other less significant factors, our attorneys can help assure you that you’re taking the proper steps in seeking benefits.
Suffering from an on-the-job injury or illness is a debilitating and frustrating experience. The forthcoming legal proceedings are usually complex and difficult ordeals. We at Kaplan Lawyers PC believe that you shouldn’t be responsible for the mass of paperwork and legal strife that ensues. We also believe that you should be compensated for the injuries that you have sustained and losses that you suffer. Certain injured candidates may be able to apply for different workers’ compensation (and, in some cases, Social Security) benefits, and we want to help you avoid sacrificing part of your reward because you weren’t alerted to the full extent of your rights.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
Because each workers’ compensation case is different, and there is only one opportunity to negotiate your optimal Section 32 agreement, it pays to have an experienced attorney on your side.
If you’re already looking to reach a Section 32 settlement, are unsure as to whether or not you qualify for benefits, or have any other questions, contact the injury lawyers at Kaplan Lawyers PC for a free consultation by calling (516) 399-2364.
We can evaluate your individual situation and advocate for you throughout the entirety of the legal proceedings. We will fight hard to win you the full compensation you deserve.