Settlement of an accepted or denied Oregon Workers' Compensation claim is an option, and sometimes a good option. However, from time to time, we see cases where adjusters present settlement documents to injured workers in a way that makes it seem like a mandatory part of the claims process. It is not.
I do not know whether this confusion arises from the term of art "settlement" that my older clients use to describe the permanent partial disability benefit paid at claim closure. Many of my older clients will say that SAIF or some other insurance company is getting ready to "settle up" on my claim, when in fact the permanent partial disability at closure is a benefit, not a settlement. Nonetheless, you should know that a settlement is a voluntary act, and that you do not need to sign these documents unless you feel it is the best way for you to resolve your case.
Another problem is the false time limit. Often, clients contact me to let me know that they have been presented with a settlement document, and that they are under a strict time limit to respond to the settlement. Although parties are free to put time limits on extending offers of settlement, there is no hard and fast rule under the Workers' Compensation statute in which to respond to an offer of settlement. If you are given a strict time limit, ask for a reasonable extension of time to review the document, or confer with an attorney. In many cases, the adjuster will be happy to oblige. If they are not, then you should be suspicious.
If you have a question about a Worker's Compensation settlement proposal, give us a call at 503-325-8600. We handle these issues every day.