What is a Claims Resolution Structured Settlement Agreement (CRSSA)?
A CRSSA is a contract between L&I, the injured worker, and the employer. 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: There are frequently changing worker age limitations whihc apply to CRSSA’s. See the law and rules for the latest age limit.
CRSSA law and rules?
- Claim Resolution Structured Settlement Agreement (CRSSA) law is Revised Code of Washington RCW 51.04.063.
- The rules can be found in the Washington Administrative Code 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
- 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
- If the self insurer fails to comply with the CRSSA you can request a penalty. RCW 51.04.063
What are the disadvantages of a CRSSA?
- L&I reopening benefits are limited to medical only. No time loss will be paid if there is a future claim reopening. This could be a big future problem.
- 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. Understand what you are doing if the employer wants to segregate out a medical condition.
- 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 money now will take that settlement.
- The value of a CRSSA can be further diminished or limited by:
- Monies owed to DLI
- Monies owed to OSE
- Third party excess
- Social Security Disability (SSD) receipients are subject to offset, sometimes imposed retroactively. This can ruin the value of a CRSSA. If you are on SSD, a CRSSA is not for you.
- HERE’S THE USUAL PROBLEM
- All injured workers need money now, L&I and the employer know you have money problems. They also know they can offer a low settlement and you will probably take it. You then solve some of your immediate money problems right now, but you also create future problems if you reopen. Their L&I claim is then over.
- Complex medical problems are almost always significantly worse, more complicated, and more devastating than they appear. Serious medical problems show up in the future and come back to haunt you later in life. If you need to reopen your claim for medical reasons you will probably then want L&I time loss. 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 may also benefit with an attorney. L&I 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
- 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. Permanent Partial Disability
- 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. L&I Pension
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. Pay attention here. This is a very common problem. Medical problems can reoccur and last a lifetime. Don’t settle cheap for a CRSSA and foreclose your chance for future time loss. Your are advised to close your claim with a permanent partial disability settlement.
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