The workers’ compensation law in Georgia encourages settlement whenever possible. Cases can even be settled before workers physically recover from their injuries. But in most cases, injured workers settle only after their medical conditions have stabilized. This is a practical move considering that workers may not know whether their physical damages will be permanent or temporary. Also, workers find it very difficult to live on workers’ compensation benefits.
The injured worker typically starts the settlement process by submitting a settlement demand to the insurance company. The insurance company may reject or accept the demand, or they may counter with a new offer. Negotiations will ensue until both parties have agreed on a settlement amount.
Workers’ compensation settlement in Georgia is purely voluntary. Nobody can force an injured worker or the insurance company to settle. Both parties must agree to the settlement’s terms. Workers’ compensation cases in the state could result in either a liability or no-liability settlement. No-liability settlements usually involve disputed claims.
Workers’ compensation settlements generally release the employer from all claims to the injury, including wage loss benefits, vocational rehabilitation services, and the right to any medical treatment. Most insurance companies require a closure of the claim case upon settlement, ending their obligation to pay benefits.
The parties can decide to cancel the settlement at any time before the Workers’ Compensation Board has approved the settlement agreement. But once a judge has approved the settlement, it generally cannot be canceled. The injured worker is entitled to payment after 20 days once a judge approves the agreement.
The terms of the agreement will determine how the settlement money will be distributed. Several items may be subtracted from the worker’s settlement.
- Unpaid medical bills
- Attorney’s fees
- Unpaid child support
A portion of the settlement money may also be set aside for future medical treatment related to the work injury.
Filing for and negotiating a workers’ compensation settlement demands legal skills and knowledge. The insurance company will always be represented by a lawyer, and the injured worker will be at a disadvantage if they do not have an attorney of their own. Workers need the services of a skilled and experienced Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer to secure the fairest outcome possible.