What is a Claims Resolution Structured Settlement Agreement (CRSSA)?
A CRSSA is a contract between injured worker, the employer, and L&I. It closes the claim with periodic money payments.
- The injured worker agrees to give up their benefits such as permanent partial disability (PPD), time loss payments, vocational, medical treatment, and other benefits. The injured worker also gives up their right to reopen the claim for most benefits. Medical only reopenings can still be accomplished
- The injured worker gets an agreed upon money settlement, paid over time.
Who is eligible for a CRSSA?
- Claim age: The L&I claim must be at least 180 days old.
- Injured worker age: An injured worker must be age 50 or over with an accepted Washington State workers’ compensation claim.
Where are the CRSSA rules?
- Claim Resolution Structured Settlement Agreement (CRSSA) rules are at WAC 296-14A
What are the advantages of a CRSSA?
- Allows for early resolution/settlement of a claim
- 15% attorney fee cap on the CRSSA award if you have an attorney
- Medical reopening possible, as usual
- Some future medical treatment can be pre-authorized
- 30 day revocation of CRSSA is possible if you quickly change your mind
- Benefits (if being paid) are continued during negotiations
What are the disadvantages of a CRSSA?
- L&I claim cannot later be reopened, except for medical treatment.
- Injured worker’s private information is subject to public disclosure. Privacy is lost.
- Money is paid out over time. It starts with a small lump sum followed by periodic payments.
- Segregation of conditions raises significant Medicare and MSP issues. This can cause serious problems with Medicare and Social Security.
- Claim closes; so medical treatment, vocational benefits, and time loss all end.
- These agreements tend to be unfavorable for the injured worker.
- Bogus IME’s together with hardball starvation tactics allow L&I and the employer to offer a ridiculous settlement, and the injured worker who needs the money will take that settlement.
- Most reopening benefits are lost.
- The value of a CRSSA can be ruined or limited by:
- Monies owed to DLI
- Monies owed to OSE
- Third party excess
- HERE’S THE USUAL PROBLEM
- Injured workers need money now, L&I and the employer know they can offer a low settlement. The injured worker who can solve some of their big money problems immediately with this settlement, so they do so. Their L&I claim is then over.
- Complex medical problems are almost always significantly worse, more complex, and more devastating than they appear. Serious medical problems come back to haunt you later in life. You will probably want L&I time loss benefits if you reopen for medical reasons. A CRSSA does not allow this. Many a claim has been ruined by a CRSSA.
How to get started if a CRSSA is right for you.
- Do I need an attorney? If you have a minor injury – probably not. If you have a serious career ending injury – probably yes. If your employer is self insured you will need an attorney,
- Do I want an attorney? Maybe. These settlements can involve legal procedures and will have a major financial impact on injured workers. Attorneys can inform injured workers of their rights and how the structured settlement will financially impact their future, compared to how keeping the L&I claim would play out. Attorneys may be able to obtain a larger settlement.
Timing of a CRSSA
- Obtain, complete, and submit an application.
- BOIAA receives, considers, approves application.
- 30 day revocation period, no appeal.
- CRSSA then effective according to its terms.
Other L&I Settlements Besides CRSSA.
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) is settlement money at claim closure for your physical and mental impairment. PPD is for someone who can work. PPD is usually better than a CRSSA
- L&I Pension is a permanent monthly lifetime payment for someone who cannot and will not return to work. It pays the equivalent of time loss for the rest of your life. Pension is better than a CRSSA
A Little Advice
- If your L&I injury has caused an inability to ever return to work then do not agree to a CRSSA. You may qualify for a pension. Review this link to learn more about a pension, or let us show you how much a pension is worth. Contact us.
- If your medical situation is bad and or uncertain, do not agree to a CRSSA. You may have to reopen your claim someday for more medical – and you will likely need time loss. Settle for permanent partial disability not CRSSA.