What can the parties to a workers’ compensation case do to resolve a case and leave litigation behind? Attorneys have been developing creative ways to resolve complicated claims, some of which have been successful, and some of which have led to even more litigation, something that the parties did not intend when trying to resolve a claim.
Section 449 of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, as amended, provides that the parties to a workers’ compensation claim can compromise and release “any and all liability which is claimed to exist under this act on account of injury or death.” As such, the parties may use a compromise and release agreement to resolve indemnity or wage loss, benefits, specific loss benefits, and medical benefits. The compromise and release agreement may resolve claims for all types of benefits or for only certain types of benefits. Typically, if the parties are not settling all elements of the claim in a single agreement, the initial settlement will resolve indemnity and specific loss claims while leaving the medical portion of the claim open. Alternatively, due to the involvement of Medicare set asides in the settlement of workers’ compensation claims, the parties may purport to settle the entire claim, but provide for alternative resolutions of the medical portion of the claim depending upon Medicare’s determination regarding the set aside.