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Settling a workers' compensation dispute is an option for some

When a dispute arises between an employee and employer with regard to workers' compensation, a claim may be filed with the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission. However, many of these cases are ultimately settled by the parties on their own. The Commission refers to such settlements as "settlement contracts," which in essence is an agreement between both parties to close their pending claim with the Commission in exchange for a mutually agreed-upon sum of money.

Employees might choose to settle a claim for a variety of reasons. First, if the Commission decides their claim, it is possible that the Commission could rule against the employee, meaning the employee will walk away with nothing. Moreover, the parties may be able to reach a settlement quicker than the time it would take to have a trial.

If the employee and employer can reach a settlement, it should be recorded in writing on the Commission's Settlement Contract form. Then it should be approved by the arbitrator in the case. The settlement contract will not be considered to be legally binding until it has been approved by the Commission.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that once a settlement contract is approved, the employee generally no longer has the right to pursue further monetary damages or medical benefits from his or her employer, even if the employee's health continues to worsen. However, the parties to the settlement contract can agree to allow changes to occur after the settlement contract has been approved. Moreover, there are certain situations in which an employee can turn to the Commission for a resolution to a dispute, post-approval.

In the end, sometimes a settlement is the preferred option for employees who find themselves engaged in a workers' compensation dispute with their employer regarding a workplace injury or occupational disease. However, before entering into any sort of settlement contract, the employee may want to consult with an attorney, who can examine the settlement contract to ensure it is fair to the employee.

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