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How Long Does a Workers Compensation Settlement Take?6 minute read

Georgia workers compensation settlements require approval.  This means that you and the insurance company cannot just agree to settle your case.  For a settlement to be official, the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation has to approve your agreement.

Many people have questions about how the approval process works.  In this article, I will discuss the approval process as well the steps that occur in most settlements.  I will also talk about how long it takes for the State Board to approve a settlement.

Insurance adjusterHow do I reach a workers compensation settlement?

You cannot force the insurance company to settle your workers compensation case.  They cannot force you to settle either.

To reach a settlement, you or your attorney must negotiate a settlement.  Before you consider negotiating a settlement, you need to make sure you understand what all should go into settlement or have an attorney representing you who does.

Once you settle your case and the settlement is approved by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation, it becomes final.  You cannot go back and change it later.

Since you only get one chance, you need to make sure you do it right.  Make sure to read this article that discusses many of the things you should think about before you start negotiating with the insurance company.

What paperwork do I have to sign?

Reaching a settlement will usually mean agreeing on a number.  For example, you might offer to settle your workers’ compensation case for $25,000 and the insurance company might agree to do that.  At that point, you have a tentative settlement.  But, that settlement does not become official until everyone signs the paperwork and the State Board of Workers’ Compensation approves it.

If you have read my articles about workers’ compensation forms, you know that the State Board of Workers’ Compensation has created many standard forms for Georgia workers’ compensation cases.  But, the State Board has not created a form for settlements.

The document settling your workers’ compensation case is usually known as a “stipulation and agreement” or “stip” for short.  There is no standard version of this document.

If you do not have an attorney, the insurance company’s attorney will almost always prepare the stipulation and agreement.  They will then send the stip to you and ask you to sign it and return it.  They will likely ask you to sign other documents as well.

Always be careful about what you sign.  All of these documents you sign can affect your rights in the future.  The basic idea of a workers compensation settlement is that the insurance company pays you a certain amount of money and you give up your workers compensation case.  But, the documents you sign will sometimes do more than that.

Can I make changes to the workers compensation settlement documents?

Yes.  The State Board of Workers’ Compensation does not require a certain form for workers compensation settlements.  We almost always make several changes to settlement documents we review for our clients.  We want to make sure these documents treat our clients fairly.

When we handle a workers compensation settlement, we tell the other attorney what changes we want to make.  We almost always get these changes worked out.

The important thing to remember is that you do not have to sign any document that is unfair.  Remember, a workers compensation settlement is not final until the State Board approves it.

What about the other settlement documents?

The attorney for the insurance company may send other settlement documents as well.  You might see the following documents:

  • A general release
  • A covenant not to appeal
  • A resignation and agreement not to reapply
  • A confidentiality agreement
  • An indemnification agreement
  • A document or affidavit regarding your Social Security Disability or Medicare status
  • A Medicare Set-Aside agreement
  • A throwaway sheet

Why does the insurance company send these other documents? Many of these documents have you release other claims you could have.  Other documents obligate you to do certain things like keep the settlement confidential or pay money to the insurance company for violating an agreement.

Worried couple looking at bills

Do you have to sign these other documents? Not necessarily.  The insurance company would probably like you to give up your rights.  You would probably prefer to keep as many rights as you can.

If you do not want to sign the documents, you do not have to sign them.  However, the insurance company might refuse to settle your workers’ compensation case without these other documents.

What if we cannot agree on the changes to the settlement documents?

If you cannot agree on the changes, then the settlement falls apart.  Your workers compensation case continues if the settlement falls apart.

You may continue getting benefits.  The insurance company might stop them at some point.  You might end up settling your case at some point in the future.

How does the State Board of Workers’ Compensation review settlement documents?

Once you sign the stipulation and agreement and send it back to the insurance company’s attorney, he or she should file it with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation.   The State Board of Workers Compensation has created rules for settlements.  Workers compensation settlements must satisfy these rules for the State Board to approve them.

You can find most of the State Board’s rules about settlements in Board Rule 15.  This rule explains what documents must be submitted with a settlement.  The rule also explains certain things that cannot be part of a settlement.

The State Board of Workers’ Compensation reviews the settlement documents once they are submitted.  Usually within a week or two, they will issue a decision about the settlement.  Most workers compensation settlements are approved.

You need to remember that the State Board may not review all settlement documents you signed.  The State Board only reviews the workers compensation settlement documents.  If you signed documents other than a stipulation and agreement, those documents do not necessarily have to undergo State Board review.

How long does the whole settlement process take?Woman with calendar

Assuming that the State Board approves your workers compensation settlement, it usually takes 30 to 60 days from when you reach a settlement agreement until the insurance company pays you the settlement money.  It may not take that long, but it can also take longer.

Several different factors affect this timeline:

  1. The time it takes to get the settlement paperwork prepared
  2. Time spent agreeing on any changes in the language in the paperwork
  3. The time taken by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation to review the paperwork

The final factor that affects this timeline is how long it takes the insurance company to pay you the settlement money.  The insurance company has 20 days from settlement approval to pay you the settlement money.  If they do not pay it in 20 days, they owe a 20% late penalty.

What if I have other questions about workers compensation?

Georgia’s workers compensation system can be very confusing.  You have to worry about getting the treatment you need and paying your bills while also worrying about not missing any deadlines that could cause you to lose your right to receive workers compensation benefits.

If you have questions, I would recommend that you try to get answers.  To find out more about how to schedule a time to talk to me about your workers compensation questions, just read this short article.

Jason Perkins is an attorney who specializes in representing injured workers.  He regularly publishes videos and write blog articles about Georgia’s workers compensation system and issues that are important to injured workers and their families.

To be notified of Jason’s new workers compensation videos, subscribe to his Georgia Workers Compensation Video Series channel on YouTube by clicking the subscribe button below.

Brittney-lee orourkeBrittney-lee orourke
05:23 18 Feb 22
Amazing! Jason and his team were very helpful and had the best communication by far. Walked me though every step with great detail and had answers for any question I had. They handled my case better then I could imagine, it was a weird case and they stayed on top of it and kept me updated every step of the way! Highly recommend this Team! Thanks so much to Jason and his Awesome team!-Brittney
China JonesChina Jones
18:58 08 Feb 22
I absolutely love this group of attorneys, when I was at my lowest they did everything they could to help me get justice for my injury. I believe if I were to have never picked my phone up and called the amazing group that helped me I definitely would not have received my idea of rights. If you have an issue and are just not sure please understand that they will help you, stay in contact, answer any question you have, and for sure get you the justice you deserve I thank them from the bottom of my heart and I will definitely refer them to anyone who has been hurt because they most definitely care about their work and clients.
Luv LocsLuv Locs
16:08 15 Jan 22
The entire law office was attentive and responsive to all of my concerns dealing with my workers compensation case.
moombimoombi
21:14 02 Jan 22
If you must get a lawyer involved, you’d do well to work with Jason Perkins and his team at Perkins Studdard Law.They were thorough in gathering information and in sharing all the steps in the workers comp process specific to my case. Jason and the team were responsive to my bevy of questions and concerns.I appreciated the informative videos and consultations provided by Jason over video meetings and multiple phone calls.I hope I’m never injured on the job again. However, if I am and if my employer responds as my previous employer did, I’ll contact Perkins Studdard Law immediately to handle the case.
Dana BessDana Bess
23:57 10 Dec 21
Everyone at Perkins Studdard was kind and professional. They were always extremely responsive and answered all questions that I had and followed up to make sure I had an understanding of what was going on along with emailing videos to explain every step of my case so I would know what to expect and be prepared. Jason is a very genuine person and I trusted him with my case. He answered so many questions for me even before I retained him as my WC lawyer. I highly recommend him and his associates at Perkins Studdard.
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