You do not have to accept your first workers’ compensation offer. For some claims, the insurance company does not adequately compensate you since injuries and losses can take time to realize. Its definition of reasonable and medical necessity may differ from what Georgia’s laws prescribe.
At a bare minimum, you should discuss the initial offer with a workers’ compensation attorney. He or she will examine the facts of your case to determine if what you are receiving is fair. Georgia workers’ compensation lawyers generally offer a free consultation so that you can determine if you need legal help.
What to Expect to Lose by Accepting the First Offer
While accepting the first offer allows you to recuperate money quickly, this situation does not necessarily give rise to receiving an adequate amount for your work injuries. In some instances, you can lose money by rushing through your claim.
Injuries are sometimes more severe than one initially thinks. Make sure you have a physician and a workers’ compensation attorney weigh-in on your overall prognosis and future needs. Keep in mind that accepting an offer now precludes you from receiving more money if you discover additional injuries or disabilities later.
Without a review of your settlement offer, you could lose out on money to pay for:
- Current and future medical costs
- Travel reimbursement for doctor’s visits
- Short- and long-term disability benefits
- Death benefits for survivors
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Future lost earning capacity
- And more
In general, it is better to wait for the full outlook of your health and future earning capacity to develop before settling. However, you should never wait beyond the minimum 30 days to report your injury under any circumstances, per the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC). Not only will an attorney evaluate your offer, but he or she will also help you keep your case moving along and on time.
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What To Expect if You Do Not Accept the First Workers’ Compensation Offer
Rather than accept the first offer, you have the opportunity to have a workers’ compensation attorney review it and determine if it is legal and fair. He or she will look at your past, current, and future costs and compare them to your offer and workers’ compensation laws.
You have a right to challenge the initial offer if it does not compensate you adequately. An employer or insurance company cannot hold this action against you.
Your attorney will handle the communications between you and your employer’s worker’s compensation insurance company. He or she will keep you aware of new developments and will run any new offers by you first before accepting them.
Evaluating an Initial Workers’ Compensation Offer
First and foremost, you must understand that accepting a workers’ compensation settlement offer is voluntary. Despite what other people say, you do not have to take the first offer.
You are in control of what you will and will not accept. However, you must also understand that what you think you deserve may fall beyond the scope of coverage, which makes working with an attorney just as critical. He or she will help you manage expectations so that you know you are getting a fair deal.
Here are a few elements that he or she will consider when evaluating your offer:
- Disability: if you are facing temporary or long-term disability, this condition gives rise to other considerations when accepting a settlement offer. While a lump sum may work well for paying medical bills and some time away from work, more severe conditions may benefit from scheduled payments. A Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer will help you establish which options are right for you.
- Prognosis: if a physician expects you to make a full recovery, then you may not need future benefits. However, some work injuries can cause unexpected problems later on in life. When those problems arise, you cannot pursue a claim after already accepting an insurance settlement. Lawyers catch these potential problems early on or as they discover them.
- Medical necessity: under Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws, you deserve money in line with the medical standard of care. However, insurance companies will sometimes dispute which treatments are reasonable and necessary and deny your coverage outright. You can challenge these decisions by hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer to fight back for the compensation you deserve.
Every workers’ compensation claim is unique. As such, you should never try to apply the outcome of someone else’s case to yours. The only professional individual qualified to give you legal opinion or advice is a Georgia workers’ compensation attorney.
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Insurance Companies Denying Worker’s Compensation Benefits
You can reasonably expect to receive money for your medical expenses and future losses. However, there are a few exceptions to workers’ compensation claims that can trigger a loss in the benefits you need.
The insurance company can deny you workers’ compensation benefits if your case meets the following conditions under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) § 34-9-17:
- You acted with the intent of willful misconduct
- You were intoxicated on the job
If your employer is alleging either of these actions, then the burden of proof rests on its shoulders. Their alleging that you committed these acts is not enough to satisfy legal requirements for denial of benefits. Working with an attorney will also hold your employer and its insurance company accountable in any deviations away from their original story.
How a Georgia Worker’s Compensation Attorney Can Help
The easiest way to get help from a Georgia worker’s compensation law firm is simply by picking up the telephone. Firms that handle work injury law typically offer a free consultation so that you can decide if and when hiring an attorney is right for your case.
In situations where an attorney does not believe that he or she can get you more money, or that the cost will not outweigh the benefit, then he or she will not recommend hiring him or her. You will at least have the reassurance in knowing that you are approaching the situation practically.
Contact Bader Scott Injury Lawyers
As a client of Bader Scott Injury Lawyers, we will review your claim and determine if you should accept your first workers’ compensation offer or negotiate further. We do not charge you for an initial consultation with our office. If you conclude that hiring our legal team is right for you, then we will not request an upfront retainer either. We will work your case on a contingency fee basis and do not recuperate our attorneys’ fees and costs unless you win.
Call Bader Scott Injury Lawyers now at (678)-562-5595 for your free consultation.