Section 15 settlements are full and final, which means you waive your rights to reopen your claim in the future. It is important to note that settling a work-related claim on a Section 15 basis only bars you from reopening that particular claim within the 2-year statute of limitations. New claims for either an aggravation of a prior injury or a completely new injury are still allowed. This would be true even if you were re-injured at the same place of employment. This type of settlement will be presented to the injured worker through a Stipulation for Full and Final Settlement usually prepared by the employer’s insurance carrier or attorney.
The other type of settlement that does not waive future rights to the claim, given that the time constraints are met, is usually issued through an Agreement to Compensation of Employee and Employer (Form 1043). Be aware that a Stipulation for Settlement, which is different than a Stipulation for Full and Final Settlement, may also be used to settle claims and does not waive your rights to reopen a claim.
Therefore, an injured worker should review his or her settlement papers very closely before signing them. Sometimes, a Section 15 settlement agreement is offered to an injured worker by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier or the employers’ attorney when it is inappropriate to do so. In these cases, the other party may be acting in bad faith.
If you have any questions about your settlement agreement, you should consult with an attorney.