Does Workers Compensation Have to Pay a Fair Settlement?
Many people find it frustrating and confusing to deal with workers compensation. Because you were doing your job, you find yourself dealing with an injury that causes you pain and makes it difficult to go back to work. Often, it seems like the insurance company fights about paying for anything.
Settlement of your workers compensation case can be a potential solution to get out of the workers compensation system and move on. You have probably heard about settlement of a case, but a lot of people do not have a full understanding of what settlement means.
When it comes to your workers compensation case, you need to make good decisions. The injury you have suffered may affect you for the rest of your life. If you make a bad decision about resolving your case through settlement, you will have to live with that decision in the future.
What is a workers compensation settlement?
In Georgia, settlement is a way to close out your workers compensation case. A settlement is an agreement between you and the insurance company.
Generally, your workers’ compensation attorney will make recommendations to you about whether you should settle your case and what you should settle for. Once you decide what you would accept in settlement, your attorney would negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
If the insurance company makes an offer that you decide to accept, some settlement documents would be drawn up and signed. In Georgia, a judge at the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation has to approve all settlement. This article I wrote discusses the process that happens from when you agree on a settlement with the insurance company until the settlement is actually paid.
Do I have to settle my Georgia workers compensation case?
No. Settlement is not anything that you ever have to do. When it comes to settlement, it’s important to understand several things:
- The insurance company can’t make you settle
- A workers’ compensation judge can’t make you settle
- Your attorney shouldn’t force you to settle
- Settlement’s something that is completely voluntary on your part
- You are the final decision maker regarding a settlement
Even thought no one can force you to settle, settlement may be a good option for you to bring closure and move on with your life.
If I want to settle my case, how can I make sure I get a fair settlement?
You really need to understand how most insurance companies look at settlement of workers’ compensation cases. To the insurance company, settlement is a business decision.
Most insurance companies are “for profit” businesses. That means they are in business to make money. Your workers’ compensation case is costing the insurance company money. They have to pay medical bills and other workers’ compensation benefits in your case.
Just like you don’t have to settle your case, the insurance company does not have to settle either. In Georgia workers’ compensation cases, there is no way that you can go to court and force the insurance company to settle for a certain amount of money. So any settlement is going to be a negotiation and the question is how do you get the insurance company to agree to pay you a fair amount in the settlement.
Remember that the insurance company is making a business decision. They are looking at what happens if they do not settle your case and they just leave your case open. What’s that going to cost them?
So in order to make sure that you receive a fair settlement on a workers’ compensation case, you really need to convince the insurance company that your case is going to cost a lot of money if it stays open. The cost of your case staying open is often what drives insurance companies to settle with you rather than leave your case open.
How can I convince the insurance company that my case is going to cost them a lot?
Now, convincing the insurance company your case is going to be expensive can be difficult. You are going to have to understand Georgia workers’ compensation law. You are going to have to understand:
- All the benefits that are available
- What your medical treatment is going to cost in the future
- What future benefits from being out of work are worth
- Whether your case could possibly qualify for a catastrophic designation or not
- The limits that apply in Georgia workers’ compensation law and the exception to those limits.
To make sure you get a fair settlement, you generally want to have a good understanding of all of those things. Or, you need to have a workers’ compensation attorney that represents you who has a very good understanding of those in order to make sure the insurance company is fair with you on settlement. Because all the different workers’ compensation rules can be very complicated, many people choose to get help from a workers’ compensation attorney when settling their case.
Because the insurance company is a business, they are probably going to want to settle your case for as little as possible. So, even if they were willing to pay up to a certain amount of money to settle, they are going to try to settle for less if they can convince you to take less.
When the insurance company settles for less, they make more money and you receive less than you should. So, just be sure that you make a good decision about settlement or that you get help from a workers’ compensation attorney.
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.
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