Record-breaking settlement approved in California workers' compensation case

By S. Laney Griffo | Apr 4, 2017

The plaintiff won a total of $13.2 million from both settlements.   Shutterstock

LOS ANGELES — A workers' compensation judge recently approved to a record-breaking, $10 million settlement in a California case.

The settlement in the case — TBC v. Ernst & Young; The Insurance Co. of the State of Pennsylvania (AIG) — came to the plaintiff in addition to the $3.2 million settlement she won in a civil case against Caltrans and the state of California, Asvar Law reported in a news release.

The settlement was agreed upon on March 20 and approved by Judge Roger Tolman. The release said the dollar amount is the highest-known award for workers' compensation in the country.

The plaintiff was driving home at about 2:30 a.m. on June 5, 2013, from a special audit for work when she hit a tree after veering off Interstate 10. The injuries she sustained included a “traumatic brain injury,” the release said.

The case was able to be filed as a workers’ compensation claim because of an exception in the coming-and-going rule.

“Normally, the commutes from work to home and home to work are not covered, but the rule has many exceptions,” Chris Asvar, the plaintiff’s attorney in the case, told the Northern California Record.

In this case, because she was driving home from a work assignment in special circumstances and 2:30 a.m. not being during normal commuting hours, the case was able to be filed as a workers’ compensation case.

In the civil case, an $8 million settlement was agreed upon. AIG had a lien on $1.5 million, and the plaintiff got $3.2 million for pain and suffering.

Asvar did not think that settlement would be enough to cover future medical costs.

“In this settlement, I took the position that, yes she is about to receive $3.2 million from the civil settlement,” he said. “We need to figure out the value of the future medical care that will she definitely need.”

He figured $10 million will cover the care the plaintiff will inevitably need and agreed on a global structured settlement.

In many cases in which both civil and workers’ compensation claims are filed simultaneously, the defendants will drag the workers’ compensation case on until the civil settlement is used and the case becomes worthless.

“In this case, I insisted that we would not allow the workers’ compensation insurance carrier (AIG) to receive the $1.5 million for their lien on the case unless the settle the workers’ compensation case with our client,” Asvar said.

Since this is a structured settlement, the plaintiff will receive a monthly payment for life, Asvar said.

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