Most people know that Georgia workers compensation claims usually conclude with a lump sum settlement. But how much should your case settle for? How much is a shoulder injury worth? Or a back injury? Most importantly, is there anything that the injured worker can do to increase the settlement value of the case? Absolutely! in Georgia you can increase the settlement value of your workers comp case.
To understand how this works, you have to understand the settlement process. First, be aware that Workers Comp settlements in Georgia are voluntary. A judge cannot order the insurance company to settle. Second, the insurance companies choose to settle workers comp cases to control their risks. They’re worried about future risks – future weekly benefit checks they might owe the worker, and future medical care they may be responsible for. The more risk they expect for the future, the more they’ll pay you to settle. So, how do you maximize the Insurance Company’s risk? Here are some time-tested strategies that work:
Get your weekly disability check started, if you’re not receiving it already. The insurance company will be much more eager to settle if they’re having to write you a check every week.
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 check amount increased.
Report all super-added injuries. 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. (A super-added injury is defined as a subsequent injury that is the direct and natural result of the original injury). The more you can broaden the scope of the claim, the more likely the insurer will want to settle.
Seek psychological care, when appropriate. Depression/anxiety are normal when you have a serious bodily injury. Ask you doctor to mention your depression in his records, and to refer you to a specialist for treatment.
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.
Don’t refuse medical procedures. Even if there is a surgery or treatment recommended that you don’t want to have done, do NOT tell the doctor you definitely don’t want it. Tell the doctor you’ll think about it. The possibility of expensive surgery adds to settlement value, unless you remove it from the valuation process by declaring that you’ll won’t have it done.
Be very careful what you tell the doctor. Don’t tell the doctor you “feel good,” or that you’re ready to go back to work. Don’t talk to the doctor about hobbies you’re doing, side jobs you currently have. Don’t tell the doctor you’ve been working on your car or discuss any hobbies 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 change that perception. Make sure the doctor knows that your pain is severe, by telling him at every appointment.
Ask for a hearing. When your case has been sitting on the “back burner” and you can’t get the adjuster to evaluate it for settlement, find a small issue in dispute and file a hearing request. Insurance companies usually want to discuss settlement before going to a hearing.
These strategies all add to case value, but each of them has to be implemented the correct way. Only with the guidance of an experienced attorney can your case value be maximized. Also, be aware that insurance companies have their own tricks to reduce settlement value, and many of those tricks involve legal processes that can only be countered through the legal process. Getting the very best legal help is the surest was to get maximum value for your workers compensation settlement.