Workers Compensation claims in Georgia have varying settlement values, depending on the type of injury, the degree of ongoing impairment at the time of settlement, the amount of weekly disability benefits being paid by the Employer, and the impairment rating assigned by the doctor.
The Basic Idea of Workers Compensation Settlement
Workers Compensation in Georgia is a “pay as you go” system for the Employer/Insurer. When the Employer becomes liable for an expense, they’re supposed to pay that expense right away. For example, when an injured worker is off work for a week, the Employer is supposed to pay a disability check at that time. When an injured worker goes to the doctor, the medical bill is paid at that time. When an injured worker is prescribed medication, the bill is paid at that time. In other words, at any given point in time the Employer should be “paid in full” for everything that they owe. If that’s the case, then why would an Employer want to write a big check to settle a Georgia workers compensation claim? It’s all about Future Risk.
What is Future Risk, and how does it apply to my case?
Future Risk is any bill that the Employer expects to pay in the future, but hasn’t yet come due. There are three big categories of future risk:
1. Future disability checks. In most cases under Georgia law, the Employer potentially owes a maximum of 350 weeks of disability benefits from the date of injury. This is the biggest driver of future risk, so its important to make sure that the Employer is paying you the correct weekly amount, and its important that you maintain your eligibility for these weekly benefit checks.
2. Future medical treatment. In most cases under Georgia law, the Employer owes medical care for up to 400 weeks from the date of injury. Ongoing office visits don’t typically represent a big expense, but some brand-name medications can get very expensive. Also future injections or other treatments can drive up the cost of future medical care.
3. Future payments based on a disability rating. Under Georgia law certain injuries entitle the injured worker to an impairment rating, also known as a disability rating. The disability rating has nothing to do with whether or not you’re able to work; instead its based upon a recognition that you have an injury that you may not fully recover from. The rating is assigned by the doctor in accordance with a book published by the American Medical Association, and it entitles you to the payment of a certain amount of money. The payment due for this disability rating is often not due until the end of the case, and therefore represents another future expense that the Employer must pay.
While this may seem straight-forward, there are a number of strategies that can be used to tip the balance in favor of a higher settlement. Only an experienced workers compensation lawyer is able to maximize the value of your case. Some of that process needs to happen early on in the case, so its important to consult with an experienced Georgia workers compensation attorney right away.
If you’re ready to consider closure of your workers comp claim, our office offers free consultations to discuss the settlement value of your case. If you’ve recently been injured, contact us right away so that we can take important steps now to boost the value of your case.