Under Section 32 of the New York State Workers’ Compensation Law, claimants and insurance carriers may opt to negotiate and settle claims before the Board. While Section 32 settlements usually involve full and final settlement of all outstanding issues including lost wage and medical claims, it is possible to settle only a portion of one’s claim under Section 32.
Currently, the Workers’ Compensation Board requires that a special hearing be held in order to approve full and final settlement. A Section 32 settlement agreement is first drafted, usually by the insurance carrier’s defense counsel, and signed by all parties. It is then submitted to the Workers’ Compensation Board with form C-32.1. At the Board, it is preliminarily reviewed and if acceptable on its face, a hearing is scheduled.
The settlement hearing is scheduled so that the presiding Law Judge can review the terms of the settlement and insure that the claimant has a full and complete understanding of the terms and implications of the settlement. If the Law Judge is satisfied that the settlement is fair and reasonable and that all sides understand its terms, the agreement will be approved by the Law Judge.
There is a statutory waiting period of 10 days following the Judge’s provisional approval of the settlement. At some point thereafter, usually a week or so after the 10 days has elapsed; a formal notice of approval is filed by the Workers’ Compensation Board. Once that approval letter is filed, the settlement is final and payment will be made within 10 days after that filing.
Negotiating a Section 32 settlement is usually the most important part of the entire Workers’ Compensation process. If you have questions about whether you may be entitled to a Section 32 settlement, please feel free to contact our firm.