What Is The Maximum Settlement Amount for My Georgia Workers' Compensation Claim?

Do you want to know how much your Georgia Workers' Compensation claim should settle for? The truth is you need to know two things. First, the adjuster will never offer you as much as the case is worth, so attempting to negotiate a settlement on your own, in most cases, could cost you thousands of dollars. Second, hiring the right man for the job is always the most important thing for any task, and settling your workers' compensation claim is no exception. You should consult with an experienced Georgia workers' compensation attorney prior to signing anything - even if it is for a free initial consultation (just about every lawyer offers them). You can read my post on how to find an experienced workers' compensation attorney by clicking here.

My hope is that this article will help you get an idea of what all goes into a fair settlement. Remember, using this blog to calculate your settlement amount is a very bad idea because I haven't had the chance to talk to you and ask you questions, and not every aspect of every case can fit neatly into the following three categories. No attorney-client relationship can exist just by reading my blog, so please read the rest of this post and give serious consideration to calling an experienced Georgia workers' compensation attorney before you sign anything

Settling your Georgia Workers' Compensation case involves taking into account several different factors. First, there are your lost wages which are called temporary total disability or temporary partial disability benefits in workers' comp. A good settlement will include any past-due workers' compensation indemnity benefits (lost wages), plus late penalties if applicable, and a realistic estimate of future temporary total disability or temporary partial disability benefits.

Second, your medical treatment, both past and future, needs to be accounted for. These expenses could inclue surgery, medical mileage, prescriptions, physical therapy, rehabilitation supplies, pain management, x-rays, CT Scans, MRI's, EMG's, injections, spinal cord stimulators, and follow-up appointments with an orthopedist, neurologist, or a neurosurgeon - the list goes on and on. You may also need to obtain a Medicare Set Aside account in certain circumstances, and failing to do so when it is necessary could potentially result in Medicare denying you medical treatment in the future. 

Third, assuming this is not a death claim and you are not catastrophically disabled, then the last thing you want to consider is your permanent partial disability rating associated with your Georgia Workers' Compensation injury. Generally speaking, a PPD rating is issued by your doctor once you reach maximum medical improvement. For a great article explaining PPD ratings, read my prior blog post entitled "What is a Permanent Partial Disability Rating and How Do I Know What Mine Is?" by clicking the link. That rating is then multiplied by a certain number of weeks depending on what body part the injury involved as discussed in my prior post. 

There are, of course, additional factors to consider when settling a workers' compensation case not discussed here. For instance, if you also had a Title VII employment discrimination case against the Employer, you need to be extremely cautious in signing anything as the settlement documents will undoubtedly release or discharge the employer from any other potential lawsuit. Additionally, please know that you do not get pain and suffering in workers' compensation cases, so do be realistic in your expectations regardless of how significant your injury is.


What To Consider When Hiring a Lawyer: Workers' Comp. Expertise

If you are reading my blog, you are probably considering whether to hire a workers' compensation attorney to handle your case. I receive several phone calls every month from Georgia injured workers who already have an attorney; however, their attorney has not done a very good job handling their case. Often, the case has sat dormant on the corner of their attorney's desk for months and opportunities for second opinions were missed. In some cases, the injured worker has missed out on thousands of dollars because their attorney did not act timely or simply did not understand what to do and when to do it. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can usually get the ox out of the ditch. However, I am writing this blog post for those of you out there who have not hired an attorney yet. 

If you are considering hiring a lawyer for your Georgia workers' compensation claim, I encourage you to verify that they are, at a minimum, a member of the Workers' Compensation Section of the State Bar of Georgia. You can verify here by simply typing in the name of the attorney you are considering hiring, and then clicking on his or her name. If you do not see "Workers' Compensation Section" on their profile, I would take caution in retaining their services. 

Second, I recommend looking at how many different practice areas your potential attorney claims to specialize in. (There is a very good reason I do not defend death penalty cases or pursue medical malpractice claims....because I know how much I know about workers' compensation, and I can assure you there is just as much law in these areas that I simply do not know.) Do not hire a "Jack of All Trades and a Master of None"  - there is no such thing as a true general practitioner in the law today. A very good analogy is the practice of medicine - Would you trust your primary care physician to perform open heart surgery? Would you want a Burn Unit surgeon operating on a herniated disc in your back? See my point? Many lawyers would disagree with me here; however, I do not recommend hiring an attorney who practices in workers' compensation and ten other things.  You need an expert who devotes his or her entire practice almost exclusively to workers' compensation. 

Third, I recommend interviewing your attorney prior to signing a fee contract. For example, some good questions to ask include whether your attorney ever practiced "on the other side" of the practice - defending the insurance companies and employers, whether he or she has ever appealed a workers' compensation case to the Court of Appeals (or at least tried to), how many workers' compensation cases has he or she handled, whether he or she is a member of Georgia WCCL - (if they don't know what that is, run away!), etc. You want and deserve to have someone who knows workers' compensation like the back of their hand. 

So my point is do not hire a lawyer that does not practice exclusively in workers' compensation if you expect to have the best legal representation possible. You can accomplish this by looking at their advertisements, website, Georgia Bar Directory information, and by interviewing them over the phone or in person. In the end, I want all Georgia injured workers to feel better, be compensated for their time, and obtain the benefits they are rightfully entitled to under the Georgia Workers' Compensation Act.