When you’re in the middle of a workers’ compensation claim in Georgia, you may think that there are only two outcomes to your claim: winning benefits, or a denial of benefits. In fact, the most common and often the most desirable outcome of a workers’ comp claim is a settlement. In a settlement, you’ve won your claim for both past medical costs and lost wages, and future lost earnings. Atlanta workers’ comp lawyers, Affleck & Gordon, encourage clients to accept settlements when they are offered. Here’s why.
What is a Workers’ Comp Settlement?
A workers’ compensation settlement is when the insurance company for your employer accepts your claim for past-due benefits, and offers a disability payment plan for your future medical costs.
Workers’ compensation, by design, was created to cover your injuries sustained on the job. It protects employers from future legal action while making sure that you receive the benefits that you deserve at the same time. Because your employer pays workers’ comp premiums, the costs for a settlement are covered by insurance companies.
This means that although the insurance company agrees to pay for past-due wages and benefits are paid, they now want to reach a modified agreement regarding how to pay future benefits. In most cases and for everyone involved, settlements are encouraged, with the assistance of your Atlanta workers comp lawyer.
Settlements in workers’ comp are based on the anticipated payout by the insurance company--and this is an amount that can be negotiated. If all your past-due benefits have been paid by a workers’ comp insurer, then a settlement would be based on how likely you are to receive future benefits.
Settlements for injured workers are much more likely to be settled for higher amounts when the right workers’ comp lawyer is on your side. This is why it’s imperative to file your workers’ comp claim with an attorney.
Once the agreements are made by both parties, the terms of the settlement must be approved by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation.
How is my Disability Classified?
There are two primary classifications of workers’ comp settlements, totally disabled and unable to work in the future, or partially disabled with the potential to return to work.
- If you’re totally disabled from all work with a slim possibility of your ever returning to work, the insurance company will calculate the cost of paying you either to the end of the 400-week cap on income benefits or for a lifetime if your claim is accepted as a lifetime claim/catastrophic claim.
- If you’re partially disabled and released to return to work with limitations, the insurance company will calculate the cost of paying you to the end of the 250-week cap on benefits. At that point, you are expected to be able to return to full-time work. In this case, you’ll receive a settlement for past wages but have not been injured severely enough to never work again. After your settlement, you’re able to seek a new line of work that doesn’t exacerbate your injury.
- If you have an on-the-job injury but no lasting permanent damage, you may receive past benefits, but the company doesn’t owe you any future benefits. In this case, you’re very unlikely to receive a settlement. For example, if the authorized doctor released you to regular-duty work, assigned a zero percent (0%) impairment rating, and stated that you don’t need further medical care, the insurance company does not owe any future income benefits, medical or permanent partial disability/permanent impairment benefits.
In the cases where it’s determined that you do require future benefits, they will include income benefits, medical expenses, and a permanent impairment rating. A permanent impairment rating means that damages from your injury or condition are severe enough that you’ll never be able to work again.
How is a Settlement Paid?
Settlements are paid in one of two possible ways: as a lump-sum payment or as a structured settlement.
- A lump-sum settlement may sound like the best option, but it’s a trade-off. In a lump-sum settlement, the claimant agrees to give up certain rights in exchange for a one-time payment from your employer or their insurance company.
- A structured settlement allows for a long-term payout of benefits through an annuity. In most cases, this is the best option. It provides long-term financial security for you because you’ll receive regular payments to cover your ongoing costs and expenses.
Most covered claims are settled for 55% to 70% of the cost to the insurance company.
Can I Receive Benefits for Pain and Suffering?
There is no consideration or reimbursement for pain and suffering. The closest benefit to pain and suffering is the permanent impairment rating.
Does Having an Atlanta Workers’ Comp Lawyer Help My Case?
In general, having a workers’ comp lawyer absolutely helps claimants win their cases and win them for higher amounts. Here at Affleck & Gordon, we’ve represented injured workers in workers’ compensation claims for 45 years. Our team is experienced, compassionate, and knowledgeable about workers’ compensation laws and how to help our clients receive the benefits that they deserve.
Navigating Workers’ Compensation settlements and seeking an Atlanta workers’ comp lawyer to assist with your appeal following a denial of benefits doesn’t have to be overwhelming. We understand what you’re going through, as we’ve assisted many others in winning benefits for their on-the-job injuries. We can help. As we evaluate your claim, we’ll help organize the most important facts of your medical history, and help you present a strong, compelling case that can lead to a successful settlement. At Affleck and Gordon, we’re the experienced Atlanta workers’ comp law firm you need.
If your Workers Comp claim has been denied, or you’re thinking about filing and don’t know where to start, Affleck and Gordon can help. We’ve been helping people in Georgia just like you for over 45 years.