What is a Voluntary Agreement?
A Voluntary Agreement memorializes the details of a workers’ compensation injury. It includes:
- the injured worker’s name and legal representative
- the identity of the employer and the insurance company
- the date of the injury, trauma or onset of disease
- the date incapacity began
- the name of the treating physician
- the wages and compensation rate
- a brief description of how the injury, trauma, or disease occurred.
The Voluntary Agreement establishes that the claim is permanently accepted. A Voluntary Agreement binds the insurance company to the claim for the life of the injured worker, and in some cases beyond.
Voluntary Agreements benefit the injured worker. They are also required in most accepted cases for workers’ compensation. Insurance companies will often overlook preparing a voluntary agreement, allowing them to deny the claim at a later point in time. Kocian Law Group attorneys will pursue a Voluntary Agreement whenever appropriate or needed to protect your workers’ compensation claim.
Types of Voluntary Agreements
There are generally two types of Voluntary Agreements used in workers’ compensation cases. The first type is described as a “jurisdictional” Voluntary Agreement. It memorializes the acceptance of the claim. It is the equivalent of a judgment that the employer is liable for the injury. Both sides sign the agreement, and the Commissioner approves it. The advantage of this type of Voluntary Agreement is that the employer or its insurance company cannot later deny the claim. Nearly all cases, if accepted, deserve a Voluntary Agreement of this type.
The second type of Voluntary Agreement is for a “specific award” or “permanency award.” If an injury results in a permanent loss of function to any body part covered by workers’ compensation law, this second type of agreement is used. The difference is that this Voluntary Agreement will list the body part affected and number of weeks awarded – for example, it might list a 5 percent loss of the back, or a 100 percent loss of the hand, or a 35 percent loss of the heart.
The bottom line is that a Voluntary Agreement is a legal document. As such, it is difficult to change after it is approved. Therefore it is crucial to make sure the Voluntary Agreement is correct in all respects and does not result in a worker getting shortchanged because the Voluntary Agreement contains the wrong compensation rate or a lower award amount than the law allows. If the insurance company has not issued a Voluntary Agreement in your workers’ compensation case, contact the Kocian Law Group for a free initial consultation. If you would like us to review a Voluntary Agreement before you sign it, please come in to one of many conveniently-located offices for a free initial consultation.