A work injury in Georgia can leave you with costly medical bills and force you to miss work. Thankfully, most employees are covered by workers’ compensation, which should compensate for some of your losses as you recover. However, workers’ comp benefits are not always enough to live on, so you may want to seek a settlement. The average settlement for a Georgia workers’ compensation claim depends on a few different factors.
You are entitled to certain benefits through workers’ compensation without pursuing a settlement. That being said, some employees are better off seeking more from the insurance company to account for their future needs.
What Workers’ Compensation Provides in Georgia
When you’re out of work for your injury for at least seven days, you can receive temporary disability benefits through workers’ comp in Georgia. Here are the details:
- You will get weekly benefits at two-thirds of your average weekly wage.
- The amount you can receive per week is capped at $675.
- You have the potential to receive these benefits for up to 400 weeks, although most workers do not receive them for that long.
- If you are killed from your work injury, your dependents will also be eligible for death benefits at two-thirds of your average weekly wage.
Workers’ compensation should also cover all medical costs resulting from your work injury. This includes doctor visits, hospital stays, tests, prescription medications, and long-term treatment like physical therapy or rehabilitation.
If, after you return to work, your injury has prevented you from earning as much as you did before, you can receive a reduced benefit. This is two-thirds of the difference between what you were earning before and what you can earn now—capped at $450 per week and a maximum of 350 weeks.
Why Pursue a Settlement in a Workers’ Compensation Case?
If you are able to receive the above benefits through workers’ comp in Georgia, you might wonder why anyone would pursue a settlement. There are actually several reasons why a settlement can be advantageous to you:
- The maximum 400 weeks to receive temporary disability benefits adds up to almost eight years. Although that amount of coverage would be great, most injured workers do not receive benefits for this long.
- Your employer won’t want to keep a workers’ comp case open for years or hold your job for you when you can’t work. (Most employers will take action if their cases are not closed within a year.)
- Two-thirds of your regular salary is often not enough to live (and pay your bills) on long-term.
- Most doctors will conclude that you’ve improved as much as you possibly can after around the one- to two-year mark, at which time you’ll have to be forced to return to work.
With these reasons in mind, you might see how seeking a settlement could make up for the discrepancies. You and your workers’ compensation lawyer will of course weigh the pros and cons while calculating how much your settlement should be worth.
What Is the Average Settlement for a Georgia Workers’ Compensation Claim?
The value of a workers’ compensation settlement can vary widely depending on where you were injured and how much that injury disables you from working. That’s why it’s impossible to give a set average number. Each case is different. However, we can talk about the factors that go into determining your settlement amount.
You will also probably need the help of a Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer to calculate what your settlement is worth. It’s vital to be precise when coming up with the correct value for your settlement.
Calculating Permanent Disability Values
First, your doctor—who must be an authorized treating physician as approved by the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC)—will determine how disabled you are. Once you have reached your maximum medical improvement (MMI), where you cannot improve with further treatment, your doctor will analyze your condition as a permanent disability.
The doctor will determine a percentage based on how disabled you are in the body part where you were injured. Certain body parts are worth more than others on the disability scale. For example, your doctor might say that your arm is 50% disabled. They will use ratings based on the American Medical Association’s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment fifth edition when determining the percentage of your disability.
The problem is that this doctor was chosen as a treating physician by your employer. It’s unlikely they have your best interests in mind, so they may give you the lowest rating they can. Your Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer will probably order a second opinion through their own doctor.
Other Factors Considered in Your Settlement
When calculating a number for your settlement, your lawyer will consider the following factors:
- The salary you were earning
- Whether or not you will be able to work again
- Which body part was injured
- What percentage of disability you have
- Your current medical bills
- Future expected medical costs
- Your age
Your lawyer and the workers’ comp lawyer will negotiate in hopes of arriving at a fair number. Typically, everyone will come to an agreement somewhere in the middle. An experienced workers’ comp lawyer will know how to fight for the best possible settlement for you. To start discussing the details today, call John Foy & Associates for a FREE consultation at (404) 400-4000.
How Workers’ Compensation Settlements Are Paid
Once your lawyer has negotiated a fair settlement amount for you, the actual payment will be discussed. Most workers’ comp settlements are paid in a lump sum. However, some may be provided as a structured settlement where you get paid monthly, yearly, or every few years. Structured settlements are most common for workers with very serious disabling injuries.
Talk to a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Georgia for Free Today
Most of the time, workers’ compensation settlements are “full and final”—meaning you waive all rights to pursue more money for your condition, even if it worsens down the road. For this reason, it’s crucial that you work with a lawyer who knows what they’re doing. A workers’ comp settlement can leave you far better off than not pursuing a settlement, if you work with the right person.
At John Foy & Associates, our lawyers are the workers’ compensation experts you need. We have been helping injured workers get the settlements they deserve for over 20 years, and we aren’t stopping any time soon. To get started today with a FREE consultation, call us now at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online.