- December 15, 2022
- Attorney David Mann
- Workers' Compensation
If you’ve been injured in your workplace, you’re probably facing a lot of uncertainty and have a lot of questions regarding what kind of compensation you can get. You probably have reduced work hours and medical bills to pay, and you’re anxious to get everything behind you. Workers’ compensation is designed to lighten your financial burden.
An employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provides financial compensation to employees who experience work-related injuries. You don’t have to accept what the insurance company offers. You can use an attorney to help you negotiate a settlement instead. But dealing with an insurance company that will pay out your settlement can lead to a lot of confusion. What is the settlement based on? What does it include?
It may seem a bit random or arbitrary. But there are things going on behind the scenes to determine how much and what an insurance company offers you.
What Workers’ Compensation Covers
Most likely, your workers’ comp settlement will be a one-time payment. In order to settle, the insurance company will probably make you release it from any future payments or liability. This means you won’t be able to ask for more money later on. This why it’s helpful to know what the settlement is based on.
Not only does Georgia law set out what you can be compensated for in a workers’ comp claim, but insurance companies will also consider many factors before deciding on what they are willing to pay. You will want both your short-term and long-term expenses covered.
After your injury, your doctor may require that you not work for a short time, that you do not return to work at all, or that you change job duties. You will also certainly have to miss work for doctors’ appointments.
So, not only could you have no work or reduced hours, but you might be performing work that pays less. Regardless, the result is a reduced paycheck. Your settlement should compensate you for being unable to work for any amount of time.
Lost wages could include a second job. If you were working more than one job when you were injured, and your injury prevents you from performing other jobs as well, you should be compensated for those secondary wages you’re unable to earn.
You might also have lost earning potential. This would be in addition to past wages you’ve actually missed; perhaps your career trajectory must change, and you won’t make as much in the long run. This should be factored into your settlement.
It’s important to know that the settlement probably will not cover all of your lost wages. You will likely end up recovering only a portion of them. After all, Georgia law provides for caps on some wages. It’s important to talk to a lawyer about how much you’d actually recover in lost wages through a workers’ comp settlement.
Another consideration is if you had employer-sponsored health insurance that you lost. If your insurance was partially paid for by your employer and the coverage ended, the value your employer paid should be added to the insurance settlement.
Being injured on the job will require you to seek medical attention. Treatment for your injuries is paramount, and a workers’ comp settlement should cover those costs — all of them.
It’s not just past medical bills that require compensation. You may require ongoing treatment, various types of specialty care, rehabilitation, or even surgery. Your anticipated future expenses should be covered, too.
Therefore, your settlement could cover all of the following:
- Ambulance rides
- Doctor’s visits
- Hospital bills
- Post-surgical rehabilitation
- Medical equipment
- Travel expenses for appointments.
Unfortunately, a work injury can result in death. In those cases, a settlement should cover the loved ones’ expenses for burial and funeral services.
Modifications and Aides
If your injuries are severe, you may need to adjust your physical living space and remove barriers. For example, if you require a wheelchair, you may need to add a ramp to the front of your house to get over the threshold. Home modifications, vehicle modifications, and accommodations should be covered by your insurance settlement.
Additionally, if you are severely injured and unable to complete some of your activities of daily living independently, you will likely need help. For instance, you may need assistance with getting out of a chair. Home health care services should be addressed in your settlement.
If a workplace injury leaves you unable to return to your former job duties, you may see the need to learn new job skills within your limitations. You might even need to train for an entirely new career or trade.
Your settlement should therefore include any vocational training and education you may need to help you get back to working again.
Legal fees should be covered by your settlement agreement. Specifically, the amount you settle for needs to include attorney fees and any costs, such as for hiring experts.
Claim Strength and Severity of Injuries
The stronger your claim, the more you’re likely to be offered to settle your claim. Why? Strong claims open the company to more negative exposure.
On the other hand, if there is a major dispute about whether you’re entitled to benefits, and it is unlikely that you’ll win your case at a hearing, you may want to compromise and accept a lower settlement instead.
Logically, the victim of a very tragic situation, such as the death of an employee, will recover more. Permanent or total disabilities will be treated differently from temporary or partial ones.
What Is the Average Workers’ Comp Settlement?
One of the biggest concerns for injured workers is how much they can receive. It’s important to know that, except for very rare cases, workers’ comp is not like hitting a jackpot. These cases do not provide huge payouts that would allow someone to retire. Workers’ compensation is different from a potential million-dollar settlement in a personal injury case. One main reason is that workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. Another is that there are caps on how much an injured party can receive.
A majority of workers receive between $10,000 and $25,000. Injured workers who are represented by a lawyer typically get compensation at the higher end. Those who accept the insurance company’s first offer usually receive less than $10,000. It is unusual for a workers’ comp case to settle for more than $40,000.
Why Can’t I Get More?
It’s understandable that you would want to get as much money as possible for your settlement. After all, you have lost money and have to pay for continued care. However, there are a number of reasons why you might not get as much as you’d hoped through workers’ compensation.
Insurance Companies Make Low Offers
It’s important to remember that you aren’t dealing directly with your employer. You are negotiating with the insurance company. It doesn’t matter if you are a long-time employee, a great team member, or top performer at work.
Your employer’s insurance company doesn’t know you. The insurance company who pays the settlement is interested in offering as little as possible. The company is a business. They are interested in saving money where possible and maximizing profits. They will see you as a cost to keep down. They are not interested in fairness.
When the insurance adjuster reviews your file, they will assume that your injury is mild. They might even try to argue that you can work through your injury or go on light duty. They will not want you to go see specialists for extensive workups. The insurance company is interested in your receiving conservative, and cheap, treatment. Many insurance adjusters believe every injured worker is faking or exaggerating their injuries, so they feel no guilt about offering little in the way of settlement.
It’s certain that the insurance company has been dealing with injured workers like you for years. After analyzing data from tens of thousands of claims, they have concluded that delay, challenging the claimant, and making low-ball offers positively impacts their bottom line.
Workers’ Compensation is No-fault
The workers’ compensation system is designed as a no-fault system. That means you can recover even if you, as the worker, were at fault. By being a no-fault system, there are trade-offs. One of those is the limit to how much injured workers can recover outside of medical expenses and lost wages. There is no recovery for pain and suffering.
It is also important to remember that your settlement will be based largely on your income and wages. Therefore, if you were not working many hours and were earning minimum wages, your settlement will not be the big payout you might be hoping for.
Our Lawyer Will Help You with Your Workers’ Compensation Settlement
Don’t trust your future to the goodwill of your employer and their insurance company. You deserve a stellar advocate by your side as you go up against the insurance adjusters.
At Mann Law Firm we have the necessary experience to deal with these types of cases so that you can obtain fair compensation. Our clients can give proof of our tireless work with their testimonials, and we are ready put our 50 years of experience on your case. Get advice from a reliable advocate; contact Mann Law Firm as soon as possible or call us at (478) 742-3381.