Many people have questions about workers compensation settlements. The information that you receive about what a workers compensation settlement is and how it work can be confusing.
I have written several articles that talk about workers compensation settlements to try to help provide information. In this article, am going to address a question that I have been asked by several people:
The answer to that questions is “No”. Georgia law does not require you to have an attorney to settle your case. You can reach an agreement with the insurance company to settle your case without having an attorney represent you.
The insurance company will probably have attorneys that work for them. If you agree on a settlement amount with the insurance company, the insurance company’s attorney will send you some settlement documents.
These documents will likely have you agreeing to give up your workers compensation case. Often, these documents may require you to agree to give up other potential cases that you could have.
Does a Georgia workers compensation judge make sure that my settlement is fair?
All settlements in Georgia do have to be approved by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. That means that a judge must review and approve any workers compensation settlement that you sign before that settlement becomes final.
The workers compensation judge does not necessarily review your case to make sure the settlement is fair. The judge reviews the settlement to make sure it complies with certain workers compensation rules. This means you could agree to settle your case for less than you should and the judge would probably still approve it.
Making sure you get a fair settlement is very important. Once a settlement is approved by the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation, it is final. Because of this, you may want to consider whether you should settle your case without hiring or at least talking to a workers compensation attorney.
Will having a workers compensation attorney on your side help you get a better settlement?
When you are negotiating with a workers compensation insurance company, the person that you are negotiating with is generally going to be an insurance adjuster who specializes in handling worker’ compensation claims. That person usually has a lot of experience and training in dealing with Georgia workers compensation. They will understand the workers compensation rules.
Many adjusters also have lots of prior experience negotiating other settlements that makes them a good negotiator. They are going to know what they should be willing to offer to settle your case and some tricks to make sure that they come out best in their negotiation with you.
Because of this, it is usually best to at least talk to an attorney before you start negotiating your own settlement. Talking with an attorney will provide you with an opportunity to get information and answers to your questions.
Now, that does not mean that you have to decide to hire a workers compensation attorney after speaking with them. You can make that decision after you have a consultation with the attorney about your case.
What if I see if I can reach the settlement I want on my case and then talk to an attorney if that settlement does not work out?
I have talked to people who have done this in the past. Unfortunately, this strategy can often cause problems in reaching a fair settlement.
One of the reasons that it causes problems is that your prior negotiations with the insurance company often affect the ultimate settlement. If you try to settle your case and then talk to an attorney when the insurance company does not offer what you want, often those prior negotiations will result in the insurance company offering less money.