When a serious work injury happens, it’s normal to worry about finances. The monthly bills continue like normal, but often your household income is reduced. The Georgia workers compensation system pays a weekly disability check, but the disability check is less than your regular pay. This causes people to worry: How long will I be away from work? How will I pay my car payment and house payment? After my case is over, will I get a settlement? …and if so, how much?
Because of the serious financial impact that workplace injuries can have on individuals and their families, it’s incredibly important for injured workers to maximize the amount of compensation they can get from their claim. How can they do that? Simple, increase the value of your claim by maximizing the insurance company’s future risk. Here are 10 proven strategies that will add significant value to your claim:
1. Get your weekly disability checks started, if you’re not already receiving them. The insurance company will be much more eager to settle if they’re having to write you a check every week.
2. Maximize your weekly benefit check. You (or your lawyer) should carefully check the average weekly wage calculation, to see if you’re being paid the correct amount. Overtime work, side jobs, shift differentials, and the pay rates of your co-workers may give you a basis for getting your weekly disability check increased.
3. Report all super-added injuries. A “super-added” injury is when your work injury causes you to have another injury or medical problem. For example, Do you have a back injury that later caused you to fall, resulting in a wrist injury? Report the wrist injury as part of the WC claim and request treatment for it. Has your pain medication caused you to have stomach problems? Report the stomach pain, and request a evaluation with a stomach doctor. Has your diabetes gotten worse due to steroids used to treat your work injury? Has your injury reduced your activity level and caused you to gain weight? Under special circumstances diabetes treatment and weight loss treatment can be covered under workers compensation. The more you can broaden the scope of the claim, the more likely the insurer will want to settle (and the more they’ll be willing to pay).
4. Seek psychological care, when appropriate. Depression and anxiety are normal when you have a serious bodily injury. Ask your workers comp doctor to mention your depression in his records, and to refer you to a specialist for treatment.
5. Seek pain management care, when appropriate. Pain management treatment tends to be expensive, and rarely has a definite ending date. This additional cost increases settlement value.
6. Don’t refuse medical procedures. Workers Compensation claims tend to settle for more if procedures are done, so its better to get treatment done while the workers compensation claim is going on. Sometimes there may be a surgery or treatment recommended that you don’t want to have done. What about that? Even if don’t want the procedure, DO NOT tell the doctor that you definitely don’t want it. Tell the doctor you’ll think about it. The possibility of expensive surgery adds to settlement value. Along the same lines, get all prescriptions filled on time (even if it’s a prescription that you only take occasionally and you already have plenty of it put up). Expensive medications can drive up settlement value – but again, only if you’re getting them.
7. Be very careful what you tell the doctor. Always tell the doctor what hurts, or what problems you still have. Be cautious about saying that you “feel good” – comments like that are easily misinterpreted. Don’t tell the doctor that you’re ready to go back to work. Likewise, don’t talk to the doctor about hobbies or activities that might turn into a job. The doctor needs to think that you’ll be out of work for years to come – don’t say anything to make him think otherwise. Make sure the doctor knows that your pain is severe by telling him at every appointment.
8. Avoid ALL social media posting while you’re in a workers compensation claim. Insurance adjusters and lawyers sometimes check social media, and they’ll use your postings and pictures against you. Postings about trips, activities, hobbies, etc. can be very damaging to your claim. Do not post anything to any social media unless your lawyer clears it first.
9. Don’t skip doctor’s visits. The doctor may assume you’re feeling better if you fail to show up. You have to take your claim seriously if you expect the doctor to do so. Failure to attend repeat visits can be a basis for stopping your weekly check. Plus, it makes the insurance company think that your injury isn’t serious.
10. Don’t talk to a workers compensation adjuster until after you’ve talked to a lawyer. Adjusters may ask questions designed to solicit information that could jeopardize your claim. If you want to keep the value of your claim high, don’t say anything that you haven’t cleared with your lawyer first.
Finally, if you’re still having trouble getting your adjuster to discuss settlement, then have your lawyer request a hearing. Insurance companies usually want to discuss settlement before going to court.
These strategies all add to case value, but each of them has to be implemented the correct way. Getting the very best legal help is the surest was to get maximum value for your workers compensation settlement.