Workers compensation lawyers depend on a high volume of fast-moving cases to earn a living. They don’t make much on each case. So they need to keep cases moving. Bring them in; work them quickly; settle them; next case, please. Anything that slows this pace threatens their business. Many workers’ comp claims settle for no more than a few thousand dollars.
What might slow things down? The unfortunate answer is, other, far more valuable claims you may have. Claims worth six figures or more. High-value claims can take some time to resolve, and while that’s in progress, the workers’ comp lawyer may not be able to close your comp file and get paid. Your pursuit of other, high-value claims often means delay for them, and delay means financial trouble for their office.
So to avoid having other claims bog them down (and to prevent you from hiring other lawyers), comp lawyers have you sign a document that wipes out every other conceivable claim you have. Your comp lawyers may not even tell you this is what they’re doing. They’re probably claims your comp lawyer never mentioned to you. Claims your comp lawyer doesn’t handle. Claims your comp lawyer isn’t qualified to evaluate.
How to Tell if Your Comp Lawyer is Forcing You to Give Up High-Value Claims
What are the telltale signs that this is happening? There are three:
- You’re given an agreement that mentions all kinds of claims you never discussed and that have nothing to do with workers’ compensation – claims under Title VII (the main discrimination law), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and many other laws with initials like COBRA, SOA, FMLA, ADAAA, PDA, OWBPA, EPA, CRA, FLSA, OSHA, NLRB, and WARN. It will have all kinds of references to codes and laws.
- The agreement will pay you a very small amount for signing it, usually $50 or $100. For technical legal reasons, this separate agreement must be accompanied by payment above and beyond your workers’ comp settlement. That separate check is your warning sign.
- The document has a title or section labeled “GENERAL RELEASE,” “WAIVER OF ALL CLAIMS,” “SETTLEMENT AND GENERAL RELEASE,” or something similar.
Don’t Sign the Separate $50/$100 Agreement Until You Talk to Us
We often get calls from employees who’ve just settled their workers’ compensation claim. They want us to pursue a discrimination claim, a medical-leave claim, or a retaliation claim. Often, these claims are worth $100,000 or more. But when we go through their papers, we see that terrible document. Unfortunately, there’s almost nothing we can do. If the potential client signed that document, they’ve forever lost their right to pursue other claims.
It is a disastrous situation. All you may have left is a malpractice claim against your workers’ comp lawyer.
If you’re asked to sign an agreement like this, call us immediately at (800) 663-7999. We can give you a free consultation and share our opinion whether you’re about to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars by giving up your rights. Often, our advice is (or would have been), don’t sign it. It’s not worth it.