Workers’ Disability Compensation Agency releases magistrate disposition statistics covering period January 1, 2019 through September 30, 2019.
The Workers’ Disability Compensation Agency has now released magistrate disposition statistics as of September 30, 2019. This shows 5 new open awards, 4 closed periods, 7 denials, and 7 miscellaneous dispositions in Q3. Not much of an increase during the last 3 months.
By way of background on the magistrate disposition statistics mentioned above, an open award is when the magistrate orders the employer/insurance carrier to pay continuing wage loss and medical benefits for an indefinite time. A closed award is when a magistrate orders payment of wage loss and/or medical benefits for a limited time period. A denial results in no payment of any wage loss or medical benefits whatsoever. Miscellaneous dispositions involve a variety of issues that may or may not impact payment of benefits.
We believe these magistrate disposition statistics for 2019 in Q3 are artificially low because of the chilling effect that 2011 reforms have had on cases. Plaintiffs are finding a tough road when it comes to proving entitlement to wage loss benefits. Insurance companies are now permitted to use post-injury wage earning capacity (PIWEC) to offset weekly checks. This is based upon jobs that a vocational expert says are available and not on actual employment. Plaintiffs only had 17 open awards in 2018, 10 in 2017, and 18 in 2016. This is contrasted by 5,551 new cases in 2018, 5,940 in 2017, and 6,240 in 2016.
Settlement is usually a more attractive option for injured employees who find their claims disputed. This is when potential wage loss and medical benefits are traded for lump sum cash payment. A magistrate will want to hear a brief explanation of the reasons why a case is being settled and then make a finding that it serves the purpose of the act, is just and proper, and is in the best interests of the injured employee. Medical evidence will also typically be reviewed. The average redemption amount in 2018 was $57,859.15.
We believe magistrate disposition statistics are helpful when evaluating a case for settlement or trial. Use the chart reproduced below to see how many open/closed/denied/miscellaneous awards have been given by individual magistrates so far in 2019.
Knowing your magistrate and what he or she thinks about a specific legal issue is key to ensuring a good decision is made. These magistrate disposition statistics can also be used during facilitation to argue for a higher settlement amount. For example, knowing how many job applications per week is considered a “good faith” search is critical.
It is a smart idea to have any workers’ comp case evaluated by an experienced attorney. They can tell you about the assigned magistrate and evaluate chances for success at trial. The initial telephone consultation is free, and they are handled on a no win/no fee contingency. Michigan law caps attorney fees to 15% of the first $25,000.00 and 10% on the remainder for a disputed case. Injured workers who settle claims while being voluntarily paid can only be charged a flat 10% attorney fee. Nothing will be charged if additional benefits are not obtained.
Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (844) 316-8033 for a free consultation today.