When you injure your knee doing your job, you will probably have a workers compensation case. Most people know a little bit about workers compensation.
They likely know that they need to tell their employer if they get hurt on the job. They may know that workers compensation will pay for some of their medical treatment and some of their lost wages.
Many people also have heard of workers compensation settlements. But, a lot of people do not know exactly what a settlement is or whether they are entitled to a settlement.
In this article, I am going to discuss workers compensation knee injury settlements.
Why would I want to settle my workers compensation knee injury case?
You can settle your case for any reason. Sometimes people settle their cases because they are tired of dealing with the workers compensation insurance company. Other people settle because they want to see different doctors or are having financial difficulty.
But, most people wait until they reach maximum medical improvement to settle. Maximum medical improvement is the point at which your treating doctor has gotten you as good as they can.
With a serious knee injury, you have probably have substantial medical treatment before your reach maximum medical improvement. You may have had one or more knee surgeries. You probably also had some physical therapy and other treatment to to recover afterward.
When you reach maximum medical improvement, you may be ready to close your workers compensation case and move on. Settlement is one way that you can can move on.
There can certainly be other reasons that you want to settle your case. Just be sure you understand that settlement is final. You can almost never go back and change it.
Because of that, you need to really understand what you are doing before you settle your workers compensation claim. Otherwise, you can make a big mistake.
Am I entitled to a settlement for my knee injury?
The first thing to understand is that you are not ever entitled to a Georgia workers compensation settlement. But, you can almost always settle your case if you want to do so. Most workers compensation cases do settle at some point.
The reason you are not entitled to a settlement is that settlement requires you to reach an agreement with the workers compensation insurance company. The insurance company will probably want to settle, but they do not have to settle. If they will not settle your case, you cannot force them to settle.
The reason most insurance companies want to settle is that your case costs them money if it stays open. They are paying for medical treatment and lost wages. Settlement is a way for the insurance company to pay an agreed upon amount of money and not worry about your case anymore. The insurance company likes this because they have certainty about how much your case costs them.
Suppose you hurt your knee at work and had to have knee replacement surgery. Even after recovering from that surgery, you might not be able to go back to the job you used to do. If you are not going to be able to go back to work with your employer (or do not want to), settlement will definitely be worth considering.
How do I settle my case for my knee injury?
Settlement is really just an agreement with the insurance company. You agree to accept a certain negotiated amount of money from the insurance company. In exchange, you give up your workers compensation rights for this injury.
So, how do you get to a settlement amount? The insurance company might make you an offer and you might accept it. Or, you might make an offer and the insurance company might accept it.
But, settlement is not usually that easy. If your negotiation with the insurance company was that easy, there is a good chance that you settled your case for a lot less than you could have
The insurance company is a business. They want to settle your knee injury case for as little as possible. The less they spend on settling your case, the more money they make. Even if it made sense to them to pay up to $50,000 to settle your case, they would much rather settle it for $30,000 because they would save a lot of money.
You need to make sure that you do not give up your workers compensation case for less than you should because you have to be concerned about your future. After you settle, you may need some more medical treatment. If you still have problems with your knee, you may find it difficult to return to work. Getting a good settlement can provide you with some protection in case you do continue to have problems with your knee after settlement.
Is there a specific settlement amount that I should receive for my knee injury?
No. There is no certain amount under the law that the workers compensation insurance company has to pay for a knee injury settlement. This applies regardless of what type of knee injury you have:
- Meniscus tear
- Anterior cruciate ligament tear
- Patella fracture
- Knee replacement surgery
One reason that people sometimes thinks there is a specific settlement amount for a specific type of injury is that they confuse settlements with permanent partial disability benefits. Permanent partial disability benefits are paid in a specific amount and for a specific time based on a rating that your treating doctor assigns. Often, these rating are associated with a specific type of injury or surgery.
Settlement is different. The amount of the settlement will depend on how much you or your workers compensation attorney can convince the insurance company to offer. The ability to know how to convince an insurance company to pay more is what will determine whether your case settles for as much as it should.
What is the average settlement amount for a knee injury?
This is difficult to know. The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation has to approve all Georgia workers compensation settlements. But, the State Board really does not publish average settlement amounts for different types of injuries.
Even if the State Board did publish average settlement amount, this information is not particularly helpful in deciding what you should settle your case for. Every case is different. Just a few of the factors that should affect what you should accept in settlement are:
- The amount of your weekly workers compensation check,
- What permanent work restrictions you have as a result of your injury, and
- What future medical treatment you will need
- Your education and past work experience
This is not a comprehensive list of all the factors that should affect a settlement amount in your case. Other factors will be important as well.
How can I determine how much the insurance company should offer me in a settlement?
This is complicated. When I evaluate a workers compensation case for settlement, I consider all of the different benefits that the workers compensation insurance company will likely have to pay my client in the future. I use a detailed computer program to make sure I calculate and include everything.
Based on these calculations and my own experience, I make determinations to advise my clients about settlement. After a discussion with me, my client makes a decision about whether they want to settle and, if so, what they would be willing to accept as their bottom line.
Then, I go to the insurance company and negotiate until I get their best offer. My goal is to get the insurance company to offer as much as possible. While I am doing this, I make sure to never go below my client’s bottom line.
You can approach settlement the same way. You could evaluate your case and make a determination of how much you would be willing to accept.
The things that you may find difficult are accurately predicting what workers compensation benefits you will receive in the future. The reason this is complicated is that workers compensation law in Georgia is complicated. If you do not specialize in it, you will likely make some mistakes in calculating your future expected benefits.
You may also find it difficult to negotiate with the insurance company and convince them that your case is going to cost them a lot of money if they do not settle. Convincing the insurance company of this requires a good understanding of what Georgia workers compensation law does and does not cover.
Are there reasons I might not want to settle my case?
Yes. You never have to settle your case. While it is certainly difficult to cover every reason that you might not want to settle, here are a couple of reasons that are definitely worth mentioning:
- You want to continue working at the company where you got hurt
- You are about to have knee surgery or other major medical treatment for your knee injury
There is nothing that prevents you from settling your case in these two situations. But, you should definitely pause and think long and hard before doing so.
Why is that? Many employers will require you to give up your job and agree to not work there in the future if you settle your workers compensation case. This is called a resignation and agreement not to reapply. So, settling might not be a good option if you plan on continuing to work with the company and believe that they will keep you around long term.
As far as major medical treatment goes, settling your case before knee surgery can be very difficult. All surgeries have risks. If you settle before surgery, you will not know for sure how the surgery is going to turn out.
In those situations, it is often best to wait until after surgery and recovery from surgery before settling. But, there can be reasons that settling before having the surgery makes sense.
What happens if I do not settle my workers compensation knee injury?
If you do not settle your case, it stays open. You may continue to receive workers compensation benefits if you are entitled to them.
If you want to find out more about the different types of Georgia workers compensation benefits, I would suggest that you take a look at the articles available on our blog. Here are a few specific articles that you might find helpful in giving a general overview of workers compensation:
- When Will My Temporary Total Disability Benefits Start?
- Should the Workers Compensation Insurance Company Be Paying Me Temporary Partial Disability Benefits?
- Workers Compensation Doctors
- Beating Insurance Company Medical Treatment Denials
- What Does A Permanent Partial Disability Rating Mean?
One very important thing to understand is that Georgia’s workers compensation law has deadlines and limits on benefits. This means that you are limited in how long you can draw benefits. You also sometimes have deadlines that you have to meet to draw additional benefits. So, if you do not settle your case, there is a good chance that your benefits will stop in the future.
Do I need an attorney to settle my knee injury case?
You do not have to have a workers compensation attorney to settle your case. However, I would strongly recommend that you speak to one before moving forward with settlement. If you do not, you could certainly make a big mistake that would cost you a lot of money.
It does not cost you anything to have a consultation with me or another workers compensation attorney in our firm. We provide free consultations so you do not have to worry about spending money to find out if an attorney will be able to help you. This short article describes our firm’s free consultation process in more detail.