Many people have heard about workers’ compensation settlements. You may have seen billboards or commercials that talk about them. Unfortunately, settlements are one of the most misunderstood parts of Georgia’s workers’ compensation system.
Suffering a serious injury at work can be overwhelming. Often, the workers’ compensation insurance company makes it difficult on you by not doing what they should. Even when they do what they should, your life is turned upside down when you are in pain and cannot work.
Things can be even more difficult when you are dealing with Georgia workers’ compensation. Most people are not familiar with the workers’ compensation laws and rules that apply to know whether they are receiving the benefits they should.
This article will address what a settlement is, whether insurance companies have to pay settlements, and other questions you may have as you complete your recovery from your injury.
What is a settlement?
A settlement is an agreement to end your workers’ compensation case in exchange for a certain amount of money. Once the settlement is approved by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation, your workers’ compensation case is over and the insurance company pays you the settlement amount.
Do insurance companies have to pay workers’ compensation settlements?
No. While most cases do settle, insurance companies do not have to pay workers’ compensation settlements. Insurance companies can choose to just leave your case open and not settle with you.
Can an insurance company force me to settle my workers’ compensation case?
No. An insurance company cannot force you to settle your case. You have the option to keep your workers’ compensation case open and receive any benefits to which you may be entitled.
A settlement is a way to end your case. But, you and the insurance company must both agree. Deciding whether settlement makes sense for you is important and there are number of factors that you should consider. This article provides more helpful information about the factors you should consider.
Can I go to court and get a judge to order a settlement?
No. A workers’ compensation judge cannot order a settlement. The only way to reach a settlement is to agree with the insurance company on a settlement amount.
Is there a set amount that the insurance company will offer me for a settlement?
No. The amount is not set by any laws or rules. The insurance company decides what they are willing to offer to settle. You decide if you get to take it or not.
The amount of a settlement can be negotiated. The tricky thing is making sure you get the insurance company’s best offer.
The insurance company would rather pay you less than they should when they settle your case. This happens because insurance companies are for profit businesses. Like other for profit businesses, they are run to make money. Your case costs them money so they want to settle it for as little as they can.
How can I make sure I get the insurance company’s best settlement offer?
Getting the insurance company’s best offer comes down to several different things:
- Knowing how to convince the insurance company that your case is going to cost them a lot of money if they do not settle
- Understanding how to negotiate with the insurance company or their attorney to make sure that you get their top offer
The problem is that these things are difficult. Convincing the insurance company that your workers’ compensation case will cost them a lot if they do not settle requires a very good understanding of Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws. You cannot just tell the insurance company that they are going to have to pay out a lot on your case. You have to provide justification for your numbers.
You also have to have a very good understanding of what workers’ compensation covers. Serious workers’ compensation injuries affect your whole life. Unfortunately, Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws do not cover all of the ways that your injury affects you. If you talk to the insurance company about things that are not covered by workers’ compensation, it can affect what they will offer you in settlement.
Finally, getting the insurance company’s real best offer requires very good negotiation skills. Insurance adjusters and insurance company attorneys are trained negotiators. If you do not understand how to negotiate, you will not get offered the full value of your case. Having an experienced negotiator representing you can be very helpful in making sure you get the insurance company’s best offer.
How can I know whether to take the insurance company’s best settlement offer?
This is tough. If you settle your case, that settlement is final once it has been signed by everyone and approved by a Georgia workers’ compensation judge.
The good news is that the insurance company cannot force you to settle. So, you really need to think about what your options are:
- What is going to happen in the future if your workers’ compensation case stays open?
- Are you better settling or leaving your case open?
- Will you be able to get back to work if your case is settled?
- What will happen if you need more medical treatment?
These are tough questions. The good new is that you do not necessarily have to answer them on your own. If you do not already have an attorney, I recommend that you at least have a free consultation with a workers’ compensation attorney before exploring settlement. This will help you decide whether settlement would be a good option for you. Also, you can get information to decide whether it would be better to hire that attorney to try to negotiate a settlement in your case.