Does your Workers Comp Settlement require that you give up your job?

In North Carolina, if you have requested a hearing before one of the Deputy Secretary’s at the Industrial Commission, then you are required to attend mediation prior to the hearing. Insurance companies will sometimes ask you to accept an offer that will not only pay you a lump sum settlement, but will also require you to resign your position or give up other legal rights that are not related to your workers compensation claim. (Insurance Companies are funny about asking you to do a whole lot more than you are legally required to do, while at the same time doing a lot LESS than they are required to do).

Not anymore.  In a recent case, Kee v. Caromont Health, the NC Court of Appeals found that an agreement (also called a “clincher”) that requires a worker to give up their job in addition to accepting a lump sum settlement is not enforceable.  At issue in this case was whether a provision that requires an employee to resign their position could be severed from the remainder of the settlement agreement – and the court found that it could not.

The rationale that the court used in this case was that the agreement did not comply with Rule 502(2)(e), which says that no compromise agreement will be approved unless it contains language which states “That no rights other than those arising under the provisions of the Workers’ Compensation Act are compromised or released.”

Since the agreement at issue in this case did not contain this language, the agreement as a whole was unenforceable.

If you have a question about whether your Compromise Settlement Agreement is enforceable, please feel free to call NC Workers Compensation Lawyer James Hart at (919) 460-5422.