Sometimes a dispute arises regarding a claim for workers' compensation benefits. When this happens, it may be possible for workers and employers in Illinois to negotiate the dispute, resulting in what is known as a "settlement contract." This is an agreement between the employer and worker that states how much money will be paid in exchange for closing the claim.
A settlement must be approved by the Commission to become legally binding. A neutral arbitrator will review the settlement contract to ensure it is fair and that the worker understands how the contract will affect them. This is because, once approved, the settlement contract precludes the worker from seeking any future benefits, even if the worker's condition grows worse. If the settlement is not approved by the Commission, the worker can still file a claim with the Commission. Keep in mind, though, that settlement contracts should not be rushed into, as those executed within seven days of the worker's injury will be considered fraudulent.
Settlement contracts can benefit both workers and employers. When a case is settled, the worker is guaranteed to be compensated -- a guarantee that may not be possible if the case is tried before a court. Also, when a case is settled, the employer is guaranteed not to have to pay more than the agreed upon amount -- again, a guarantee that may not be possible if the case is tried before a court. In addition, both parties can benefit from a settlement, as reaching a settlement often takes less time than going through the entire trial process.
Of course, sometimes negotiations fail, and it is in the best interest of the worker to pursue legal action regarding their claim. If so, there is an appeal process to follow. To learn more about the workers' compensation process, workers can discuss their situation with a legal professional.