Understanding CA Workers’ Compensation System, Pt.2: MSC Process Explained

A Mandatory Settlement Conference (MSC) is an extremely crucial process within the California Workers’ Compensation system, designed to encourage settlements and streamline the resolution of injured workers’ disputes. 

The process begins with the filing of a Declaration of Readiness to Proceed (DOR), typically by a work comp attorney in Garden Grove (for the injured worker) or the employer/insurer’s lawyer, signaling that the case is ready for an MSC. 

Through the MSC, both parties (insurance company and injured worker) have the opportunity to settle their disputes efficiently, with the guidance of a workers’ compensation judge, ultimately benefiting both the injured worker and the employer. 

Understanding the MSC process and the role of the DOR can help both parties navigate the complexities of the Workers’ Compensation system more effectively and result in both parties achieving an equitable outcome.

The MSC Process

The MSC Process

Typically, the MSC process consists of six steps, as noted below.

Filing a Declaration of Readiness (DOR)

The MSC process begins with the filing of a Declaration of Readiness to Proceed (DOR). A DOR is a formal request by either party (the injured worker or the employer/insurance carrier) to schedule an MSC. This document indicates that the case is ready for a settlement conference or trial. Filing a DOR signals that the party believes all necessary discovery (evidence gathering) is complete and that the case is ready to move forward.

Scheduling the MSC

Once a DOR is filed, the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) schedules the MSC. Both parties receive a notice with the date, time, and location of the conference.

Attending the MSC

At the MSC, both parties, along with their attorneys (if they have one), meet before a workers’ compensation judge. The judge’s duty is to review the case, discuss the issues, of the work injury claim, and facilitate settlement negotiations.

Settlement Discussions

The judge acts as a mediator during the settlement discussions. The parties may present their positions, offer settlements, and negotiate terms. The judge may provide guidance based on the facts and legal precedents.

Reaching a Settlement

If the parties reach an agreement, the agreed-upon terms are put into writing and signed by both parties and the judge. The settlement agreement, known as a Compromise and Release (C&R) or Stipulations with a Request for Award, becomes a legally binding document. Note that a Stipulation still allows for the case to be open for the injured workers to receive medical treatment in the future until they decide to C&R their workers’ comp case. 

Proceeding to Trial

If a settlement cannot be reached between both parties outside of court, the workers’ compensation judge will identify and narrow the disputed issues. The case will then be scheduled for a trial where the judge will hear evidence and make a decision.

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The Importance of the MSC in the Workers’ Compensation System

The MSC is a critical component of the California Workers’ Compensation system for many reasons:

  • Efficiency: By facilitating workers’ compensation settlements, MSCs are very helpful in reducing the backlog of workers’ comp cases waiting for trial, making the CA work comp system more efficient and responsive, which benefits all parties involved.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Settling cases at an MSC can save both parties significant legal costs associated with prolonged litigation and medical bills.
  • Timely Relief: Injured workers in the CA work comp system can receive financial compensation and benefits much quicker through settlements than waiting for a trial decision, which can take months of additional litigation and time.
  • Judicial Guidance of a Workers’ Compensation Judge: The presence of a workers’ comp judge at the MSC provides an authoritative perspective of the law, helping both parties understand the strengths and weaknesses of their case.

Which work comp attorney near me in Garden Grove should I turn to for assistance?

The California Workers Compensation Lawyers offers residents of Garden Grove and the entirety of Anaheim Island specialized guidance with every aspect of the Work Comp process. Our highly experienced team can assist you in filing DOR, advocate for you at the MSC, help you avoid risks of committing insurance fraud, and even educate you in the higher aspects of the Work Comp system in CA, such as what role DIR plays in your case. With us, your case will never be left to chance, so don’t hesitate. Get in touch with us and let us help you realize your rights!