A workers’ compensation offer is the amount of money that your employer’s insurance company presents to you in an effort to settle your job injury case. If you accept the offer, then it becomes a voluntary settlement agreement, and you can never pursue compensation in the future.
This assertion is true even if you later find that your injuries are worse than previously thought. For this reason, you may want to discuss your initial offer with an Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer. He or she can evaluate it to determine if the proposed amount is equitable and in accordance with your estimated medical expenses and wages lost.
Workers’ Compensation Settlements
A workers’ compensation settlement is an opportunity to resolve your job-related injury case without requesting an administrative law judge (ALJ) hearing. Ultimately, the insurance company agrees to a specific amount of money for your injuries, lost work wages, and rehabilitation.
They make this offer in exchange for your acknowledgment that they are no longer legally liable for paying you any additional money in the future. Make sure that you carefully consider the offer before accepting, especially if you suspect that the offer is unfair or unreasonable.
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You Do Not Have to Settle Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
You are under no obligation to settle your workers’ compensation claim. However, it is vital to understand that choosing to settle or not carries legal implications. Either decision will impact the outcome of your case.
Georgia workers’ compensation settlements are entirely voluntary. No one can force you into a settlement agreement and release of claims. Furthermore, it must go through a review-and-approval process by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC) even if both parties agree to it.
Benefits from Workers’ Compensation
The top priority of any workers’ compensation case is recovering as fully and quickly as possible. It is critical to explicitly follow your doctor’s orders throughout the entire time you receive treatment. You can negatively impact your case by deviating from this medical advice.
There are four types of benefits available as applicable: medical, travel, rehabilitation, and disability.
1. Medical Benefits
Per O.C.G.A. § 34-9-200, Georgia workers’ compensation pays for medical costs related to reasonable and necessary treatment and medications for your injuries. The insurance company will only cover expenses from an approved medical provider.
Be aware that the objective is to get you back to work quickly. If you believe that you are physically unable to return to work despite your doctor’s recommendation, you may want to seek the advice of an Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible.
2. Travel Reimbursement Benefits
Some injuries require numerous visits to various hospitals, doctors, and clinics. Your workers’ compensation benefits will reimburse you for mileage costs related to your medical care.
If you need physical therapy or vocational rehabilitation, you may receive workers’ compensation benefits for this as well. For those who cannot return to a previous job or employer, workers’ compensation may also pay costs for reduced earning capacity.
When you are unable to go back to work either temporarily or permanently, workers’ compensation can pay for the time you miss. Your approved physician will issue a disability rating upon determining that you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).
Under workers’ compensation, you can receive the following disability benefits as they apply to your claim:
- Temporary partial disability
- Temporary total disability
- Permanent partial disability
- Permanent total disability
These classifications of disability have specific program guidelines. If you receive a disability settlement, you can have an Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer review it with you. The more severe your injuries are, the more they may impact your future, which means that it is important to get an adequate settlement offer now.
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Workers’ Compensation Payments
Typically, you will receive a lump-sum settlement payment for your workers’ compensation claim. These payments are non-taxable, which means that you will receive the full settlement amount minus the cost of legal representation and administrative fees.
Workers with a permanent disability may receive a structured settlement. Conceptually, a structured settlement replaces regular income after determining that the employee can no longer work. Instead of taking a lump sum at once, payments may suit the needs of the beneficiary and insurer mutually.
No matter how you take your settlement, reaching an agreement and signing a release commits you to the terms and conditions set forth. You cannot change your benefits later on even if your injuries worsen. It can help to discuss your options with an Atlanta workers’ compensation attorney before signing off.
Workers’ Compensation Claim Denials
You have the right to receive an apparent reason for the denial of your claim, as well as the opportunity to file an appeal. If you choose to appeal, you can hire an attorney to help you submit a request for a hearing before the SBWC based on O.C.G.A. § 34-9-100. An ALJ will hear your case and determine if you should receive workers’ compensation for your injuries.
The ALJ will listen to both sides of the case, including your employer’s version of events. As such, it is imperative to have factual evidence to back your claim. This aspect can make having an attorney on your side helpful.
He or she will focus on a legal strategy that works toward protecting your rights and meeting your workers’ compensation claim needs. You may find it reassuring to have the help of a legal representative so that you can focus on your health and recovery.
An Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Can Help
If you have a work-related injury, you need and deserve compensation for medical costs and missed time at work. Bader Scott Injury Lawyers provides clients with responsive legal care while helping them navigate the claims process, evaluate settlement offers, and handle any denials. Call Bader Scott Injury Lawyers 24/7 to schedule your free consultation at (678)-562-5595.