A workplace injury can leave you with exorbitant medical bills, weeks or months of lost wages, and stress over how to pay for your living costs. However, anytime you are injured on the job, you are likely entitled to compensation benefits through your employer’s workers’ compensation policy.
With workers’ comp, you do not need to worry about proving fault in the accident that caused your injury. The fault isn’t even questioned in this kind of claim. Plus, your employer doesn’t have to worry about getting sued.
You have a legal right to seek financial compensation for your losses, and there are things you can do to help ensure your claim’s success. Our workers’ compensation lawyers are here to explain how to maximize your settlement.
What Are the Main Ways I Can Maximize My Workers’ Compensation Settlement?
Seven ways to obtain the best workers’ compensation settlement possible include:
- Letting your employer know you were injured
- Getting medical care as soon as possible
- Filing your workers’ comp claim
- Understanding how disability rating works
- Never trusting or providing a recorded statement to the insurance company
- Keeping careful records
- Contacting a lawyer experienced in workers’ compensation
Here they are in more detail.
1. Let Your Employer Know You Were Injured
After a work injury, you are legally required to report the injury to your employer immediately under Georgia Code § 34-9-80. If you wait too long and don’t report the incident within 30 days of the injury, you will lose your chance at compensation.
Tell your supervisor about your injury as soon as you can. Don’t put it off, as the longer you wait (even if you report it within 30 days), the less likely your employer’s insurance carrier will be to believe your injuries are serious. You must report the injury to your employer in writing.
Most employers will have forms available for you to report the accident, but if they don’t, ask how you can record your injury.
2. Get Medical Treatment as Soon as Possible
Have your injuries looked at by a doctor immediately after the accident. Don’t wait a few days to see if your injuries improve; see a doctor immediately. You will want to seek compensation for all treatment from the moment you are hurt.
Your supervisor might want you to see a company nurse or doctor or call an ambulance, which is fine. The important thing is that you seek medical attention right away, so the insurance company can’t use the delay as a reason to offer you a lower settlement. If you wait, they might try to say your injuries weren’t as bad as you said or didn’t happen at work.
Employers in Georgia must maintain a “Panel of Physicians” of at least six doctors or professional associations of physicians so that employees can easily access the options outlined in Georgia Code § 34-9-201.
You can choose a physician from this list for your treatment, and you can make one change between physicians without requesting authorization from the State Board of Workers Compensation (SBWC).
3. File Your Claim
You will also need to officially file a claim for workers’ compensation. You can do this by downloading the form from the SBWC website. Your employer should also provide you with one of these forms.
To maximize your settlement, file this form as soon as possible and complete it fully before submitting it. This will be your official notification to the insurance company of your injuries.
4. Understand How Disability Rating Works
A work injury can result in a disability that prevents you from working.
Workers’ compensation disabilities fall into four categories:
- Temporary total disabilities that keep you from working for a certain amount of time
- Temporary partial disabilities that prevent you from performing only some of your job duties for a certain period
- Permanent partial disabilities that permanently prevent you from being able to perform certain types of work duties
- Permanent total disabilities that prevent you from ever working again
If your work injuries leave you with a permanent disability, you will be assigned a disability rating, ranging from 5% to 100%, by your doctor. This percentage will be based on how severe your injury is.
Disabilities are eligible for weekly benefits at two-thirds of your average weekly wage. Permanent disabilities can make you eligible for lifetime scheduled weekly benefits or a lump-sum settlement. You and your lawyer may need to challenge your disability rating if the insurance company’s benefits are insufficient.
5. Don’t Trust or Provide a Recorded Statement to the Insurance Company
Insurance companies are notorious for asking injured workers questions that could be used as a reason to lower their settlement.
If the insurance company asks you for a recorded statement or tells you they are recording a phone conversation, don’t allow it. Instead, talk to a lawyer first so you don’t jeopardize your potential settlement.
6. Keep Careful Records of Everything
You can help maximize your workers’ comp settlement by keeping track of all the costs of your injuries and other ways the work accident has affected your life. Save copies of all your paperwork, including bills and receipts, and detailed notes about everything that happens during your claim.
7. Contact a Lawyer With Experience in Workers’ Comp Law
You will likely face obstacles when handling a workers’ compensation claim alone. Therefore, consulting with a qualified attorney is best. They will know what steps to take to maximize your settlement and fight for your legal rights.
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Does Surgery Increase Your Settlement?
Surgery can significantly increase the cost of medical treatment and prolong the time you need to recover and be out of work, increasing the value of your claim.
However, it’s important to note that not all surgeries will automatically increase your settlement. The decision to compensate you for a surgical procedure will depend on whether the surgery was reasonable and necessary.
If the procedure was deemed unnecessary or excessive, your employer’s insurance company may deny your claim or offer you a lower settlement.
To ensure that your workers’ compensation claim accurately reflects the cost of your medical treatment, including surgery, document each step of your treatment. Request your medical records and work with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to maximize your chances of receiving fair compensation.
You Might Need To Get an Independent Medical Examination
Keep in mind that the workers’ compensation insurance company might request that you get an Independent Medical Examination (IME). This would happen through one of the insurer’s doctors, and it’s for the insurance company’s benefit instead of yours.
The main reason for this exam is to provide an expert opinion that the insurance company can use to revoke your benefits or reduce your settlement.
Don’t refuse an IME; that can lead to the insurance company terminating your workers’ comp benefits. Instead, contact a workers’ comp attorney to ensure you aren’t taken advantage of regarding the exam.
Also, if you decide to change doctors, notify the workers’ compensation insurance adjuster before you begin treatment with your new doctor.
Be Aware of These Insurance Adjuster Tricks
Workers’ compensation adjusters are responsible for evaluating claims and determining the compensation that should be paid to injured workers. While some adjusters are fair and honest, others may employ certain tactics to minimize the compensation you receive.
Here are some workers’ comp adjuster tricks to be aware of:
- Delaying the claims process: One of the most common tricks that insurance adjusters use is to delay the claims process. By dragging out the process, they hope to wear you down so you will settle for less.
- Underestimating your injury’s severity: Adjusters may argue that the injury is not as serious as you claim or that your negligence contributed to it.
- Asking leading questions: Adjusters may try to lead you into saying things that could hurt your claim. For example, they might ask questions that imply you were at fault for the accident or that your injury is not as severe as you claim.
- Pressuring you to settle quickly: Adjusters may try to pressure you into settling your claim before you have had a chance to consult with an attorney.
- Misrepresenting the law: Finally, adjusters may try to misrepresent the law to convince you that you are not entitled to various compensation forms. For example, they may argue that you are not entitled to compensation for pain and suffering when, in fact, you are.
To protect your rights and maximize your workers’ comp settlement, be aware of these tactics and consult an experienced lawyer who can guide you through the claims process and fight compensation.
Don’t Wait Too Long To File Your Claim
The longer you wait to file your claim, the harder it becomes to get the maximum compensation available. Remember, even if your employer is sympathetic to your injury, that doesn’t mean the insurance company will be.
Like other insurers, workers comp insurance companies are always looking to pay you the bare minimum for your claim. So if you wait too long to file, they may use this against you and pay you less.
Maximize Your Settlement with the Help of One of Our Experienced Lawyers
Pursuing a workers’ compensation claim can be challenging. Still, with the help of one of our experienced attorneys, you can maximize your settlement and ensure you receive the compensation you are owed.
Even if you aren’t off work for long, remember that medical benefits are crucial to workers’ comp cases as they cover the medical expenses you incur due to your injury.
Our lawyers can help you maximize your settlement in many ways:
- Gathering evidence and other forms of documentation for your claim
- Getting witness statements and supporting testimony from experts in various fields
- Handling all of your communications with the other parties
- Ensuring all of your paperwork gets handled properly and on time
- Representing you during negotiations and protecting your interests at all times
Retaining a lawyer is the best move you can make to ensure you get a fair settlement. Don’t underestimate how much of a difference having a good lawyer by your side can make. Our workers’ compensation attorneys will push to recover every penny of your damages.
Get a Free Consultation With an Experienced Attorney
If you have suffered a work-related injury, seeking the help of a workers’ comp lawyer can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. At John Foy & Associates, we understand the challenges of navigating the workers’ compensation system. We offer a free case evaluation to help you explore your legal options.
During this free consultation, one of our experienced attorneys will take the time to listen to your story and evaluate the details of your case. We will also answer your questions about the legal process and explain how we can help you achieve the best possible outcome.
Call our office or contact us online to get started.