Iowa Workers Compensation claims are settled in many different types of ways. The various types are found in Iowa Code Section 85.35. Mainly, the categories of settlements are commonly called 1) “open file” or “agreement for settlement,” 2) “closed file” or “compromise settlement,” 3) hybrid (combination) settlements, and 4) commutations.
•1) Open File or Agreement for Settlement
Agreement for settlements are entered into when the injured worker suffers an and admitted injury and medical care must remain open. Authority for this type of agreement is found at Iowa Code Section 85.35(2). Normally, in this settlement the injured worker and the employer/insurer reach settlment where both parties agree the injured worker has sustained a particular amount of disability because of injury, is entitled to future medical care and that the case should be settled on those grounds without hearing.
•2) Closed File or Compromise Settlement
Compromise Settlements are the most common type of agreement. Authority for this type of settlement is found at Iowa Code Section 85.35(3). This type of agreement provides total settlement of the injured worker’s claims.
•3) Hybrid Settlement
Settlements can be reached that is a combination of an agreement for settlement and a compromise settlement. Authority for this type of settlement is found at Iowa Code Section 85.35(4). In this type of settlement part of the claim can be closed and part can be left open. Meaning, settlement can be reached closing out the weekly benefits and leaving open the medical care indefinitely or for a period of time (Iowa Code Section 85.35(6). Different variations of this can be done.
This is a type of settlement (though it does not have to be a settlement) where the parties agree to the terms of an agreement for settlement but make it so the medical and weekly benefits are all, or partially paid in a lump sum effectively providing the benefits of a compromise settlment to the employer/insurer. Commutations are simply requests for the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner to order lump sum payment of owed benefits and can be applied for by injured workers who have obtained an award of benefits or can be applied for jointly as a settlement by the injured worker and the employer/insurer.
Settlements of Iowa Workers Compensation cases are sometimes complex and sometimes simply. There are many different ways claims can be resolved. Each case has different issues involved with them and the proper type of settlement is important and different for each circumstance. If you would like to discuss your particular situation please feel free to call or email me.