Almost everyone has heard about workers compensation settlements. Lawyer commercials on TV often talk about them. But, most people do not have a complete understanding of what a settlement is.
You need to understand the decision you are making in order to make a good decision. Before settling your workers compensation case, it is a good idea to find out more information and get answers to any questions you may have. If you only partially understand what settlement means and how it could affect you, you could end up making a big mistake.
What is a workers compensation settlement?
A workers compensation settlement is an agreement between you and the workers compensation insurance company to resolve your case. In exchange for you giving up your rights to workers compensation benefits, the insurance company usually agrees to pay you some lump sum of money.
A settlement generally involves a back and forth negotiation about how much the insurance company will pay. While these negotiations sometimes only take a few hours. they can often take weeks or months.
There is one very important thing to make sure you understand about settlement. You never have to settle your case. That being said, settlement can be a good option for many people.
What happens when I settle my workers compensation case?
Initially, nothing happens. Nothing really changes. I know that answer sounds really strange. The reason that nothing initially happens is that all Georgia workers compensation settlements have to be approved by the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation. It is the approval of the settlement that changes things.
Let me give you an example. Suppose you negotiated with the insurance adjuster and you reached a settlement amount in your case. Nothing would immediately change. Here is what would generally happen next:
- The insurance adjuster would contact an attorney who would prepare settlement paperwork
- That settlement paperwork would be sent to you be reviewed and signed
- Once the settlement paperwork was signed by you, it would be signed by the insurance company’s attorney
- The paperwork would then be sent to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation for a judge to review and approve it
What happens while I am waiting for the State Board of Workers’ Compensation to approve my settlement?
When you accept an offer to settle your case for a certain amount of money in a Georgia workers compensation case, more things have to happen before your case actually settles. Until your settlement is approved, everything should be pretty much just the way it was before your settlement.
If the insurance company is paying you weekly checks, they may continue to pay them until the settlement is approved. If the insurance company has been paying for medical treatment. they should keep paying for that treatment until the settlement is approved.
What about when the State Board approves my workers compensation settlement?
Once the State Board of Workers’ Compensation approves your settlement, everything changes. Your workers compensation case is concluded (unless there is something that is specifically reserved by the settlement). In almost all settlements, this means that you weekly workers compensation checks stop and the insurance company stops paying for medical treatment.
Once your case is settled and approved, and you generally cannot go back and change it for any reason. After the settlement is approved, the settlement becomes an award of the State Board. The insurance company has an obligation to pay whatever amount of money has been negotiated that is listed in the settlement documents. They have 20 days from when the settlement is approved to pay it.
Once they pay the benefits owed under the settlement, the insurance company is done. They close your file and they walk away. You generally cannot come back and change things in the future. That tells you how important it is to make sure that you make an informed decision when you are settling your case.