Tag Archives: settlements

Settling a workers’ compensation and wrongful termination case at the same time

Posted on by

Many employers want to settle all employment-related claims when they settle a workers’ compensation case

Clients often ask me, “If I settle my workers’ compensation case, can I still sue my employer for wrongful termination?” My answer is almost always yes. But for one unfortunate employee in Louisiana, it appears settling their workers’ compensation case may have doomed their wrongful termination case.

A federal district court in Louisiana held that a worker who settled their workers’ compensation case with a release that released all claims arising from their work injury was deemed to have settled their wrongful termination case under various civil rights laws.

The Louisiana decision raised the ire of some employee-side attorneys. Workers’ compensation laws and civil rights laws provide different remedies for different harms. A Minnesota court recently used this fundamental tenet of law to hold that a disability discrimination claim under their state’s civil rights laws was not barred by the exclusive remedy provision of their state’s workers’ compensation act.

But as a practical matter, some employers like to settle all claims arising out of the employment relationship when they settle a workers’ compensation case. In these cases there is usually consideration, or seperate amounts, to settle the workers’ compensation claim and the employment law claim. Sometimes this can be advantageous for a client. I am not sure of how the release was structured in the Louisiana case, but here is how I structure so-called global releases. In short, you need two releases: one for the workers’ compensation claim and one for the wrongful termination case.

Settling the workers’ compensation case

I wrote earlier about the so-called exclusive remedy of workers’ compensation. In Nebraska, that exclusive remedy also means the workers’ compensation court has limited jurisdiction. Nebraska courts have stated repeatedly that the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court can not adjudicate employment law cases because they are a court of limited jurisdiction. Neb. Rev. Stat. §48-139 gives the court jurisdiction over workers’ compensation settlements. 48-139 also dictates the language of workers’ compensation settlements, states when settlements must be approved by the court and mandates the filing of settlement papers with the court. In short, if the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court does not have jurisdiction to hear a wrongful termination or discrimination case, any settlements in that court should not effect any wrongful termination case or discrimination case.

Settling the wrongful termination or discrimination case

A settlement agreement in a wrongful termination case is a different document. Usually there is no requirement that it be filed or approved by a court. These agreements are often synonymous with severance agreements and oftentimes included language required by the Older Workers’ Benefit Protection Act if the employee is over 40 years old.

Settlement agreements in employment cases usually also talk mention tax liability. Tax liability is usually not mentioned in a workers’ compensation settlement as workers’ compensation benefits are almost never taxed. But settlement proceeds in a wrongful termination or discrimination case are usually taxable and those agreements should include some discussion of tax liability.

Sometimes employers will want a resignation as a condition of paying a settlement to an injured employee. If the employee is still working, that provision can be a deal breaker. But for an employee who has been terminated the extra money for a wrongful termination claim can be beneficial. Settling all claims at once may also help an employee minimize taxes by apportioning the majority of the value of the severance or employmennt law settlement into the non-taxable workers’ compensation settlement.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in employment law, Nebraska, Workers Compensation and tagged , , , , , .

Changes to Nebraska workers’ compensation laws could speed up settlements

Posted on by

Our firm was active in drafting recent changes to Nebraska workers’ compensation law

Two changes to Nebraska workers’ compensation law that became effective today could speed up receipt of settlement proceeds for injured workers.

LB 953 will allow settlements to be approved quicker if lawyers representing the injured worker certify the settlement is in the best interest of the worker. These changes should result in more settlements being paid within weeks rather than months. The current law requires court approval of many final settlements.

Another change this year to workers’ compensation laws came with the passage of LB 957, which allows for electronic payment for workers’ compensation indemnity benefits. As of July 19, 2018, if a worker is entitled to indemnity workers compensation benefits, he or she may be paid via direct deposit, prepaid card, or other electronic means. The employee must agree to be paid via electronic payment and the employer must notify the employee of each electronic payment. If handled properly, this could mean quicker payment of workers compensation benefits to the employees.

Workers compensation law was created by the Nebraska legislature. The legislature changes the law occasionally. Rehm, Bennett, Moore, Rehm & Ockander monitors those proposed changes and was involved in drafting these changes working on behalf of the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in legislature, Nebraska, Settlements, Unicameral, Workers Compensation and tagged , , , , .

Workers’ Comp Internet Scam Leaves Illinois Woman Out $29K

Posted on by

sph-scamMost people have figured out not to send personal information or replies to emails from  people who they don’t know that offer them big bucks if they only send a small amount now. But what if a Facebook friend has an offer for you via personal message? The answer is even if a message is from someone who you think is your friend, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Here’s a heads up to be aware of a new scheme involving advance fees with a workers’ compensation twist. Please read this article: Advance-Fee Scam Moves Into Comp Fraud Arena

Be aware that people are willing to take your money, and this is not how any workers’ compensation system in any state works.

The majority of workers’ compensation lawyers I know work on a contingency-fee basis, so even if they need a small retainer fee, they won’t ask for money as a case is ongoing, but they will get paid a portion of the funds at the end of the case.

The original message from the Illinois woman’s Facebook friend’s hacked account “relayed that the woman was eligible to receive a $150,000 workers’ compensation settlement,” according to the article.

In this scam that involved the Internet, phone calls and sending money via the mail, a woman from Illinois sent almost $29,000 to a California woman, who “then allegedly wire(d) the money to multiple locations in Nigeria.”

If someone who is an “attorney” calls you, be sure to get his or her name, and find out the state where they are licensed.

Confirming lawyers’ are licensed can be done through a Google search for “licensed lawyer in state of …” As examples, looking for licensed lawyers in Nebraska and Iowa yielded the following website results: Nebraska Supreme Court Attorney Services Division Lawyer Search: https://mcle.wcc.ne.gov/ext/SearchLawyer.do and Iowa Judicial Branch Office of Professional Regulation Lawyer Search: https://www.iacourtcommissions.org/SearchLawyer.do

 

To report suspected fraud, review The United States Department of Justice Report Fraud site, found at http://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/report-fraud

 

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in fighting fraud, Workers' Compensation and tagged , , , .

Should I Take a Lump-sum Settlement?

Posted on by

A study shows that lump sum settlements do not discourage return to work

A study shows lump-sum settlements of workers’ compensation cases encourage return to work. Workers’ compensation laws are designed to pay benefits on a weekly basis unless there is a lump-sum settlement. Lump-sum settlements typically involve payment of a larger single payment rather than weekly payments. Injured workers often prefer the lump-sum approach for a variety of reasons. The limited nature of workers’ compensation benefits frequently leaves workers in a financial bind, and receiving a lump sum enables one to catch up. For instance, house payments can be eliminated with large settlements. Since weekly benefits end at the death of a worker, receipt of a lump sum can create some security for spouses.

There are criticisms of lump-sum settlements as well. One of the criticisms is that lump sums end all entitlement to benefits, including medical care. Another is that they discourage continued employment or return to work. A very recent study of how lump-sum settlements affect continued employment provides evidence that settlements do not discourage return to work.

An injured worker makes the decision of whether to enter into a lump-sum settlement or receive weekly benefits. Lump-sum settlement proposals are frequently made to injured workers without lawyers. A lump-sum settlement offer should be reviewed by an experienced lawyer to be sure the proposal is fair and in the best interests of the worker and her family. Injured workers should review and discuss the choice of settlement versus weekly payments with attorneys and understand the benefits and risks of each approach before deciding.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Workers' Compensation, Workplace Injury and tagged , , .