Once you file a worker’s compensation claim against your Georgia employer to recover compensation and monetary damages for personal injuries that you sustained while in the course and scope of employment, you will most likely find yourself having to answer one very crucial question:
Should I settle my worker’s compensation claim or take it to court?
The manner in which you answer this question carries with it some very serious consequences. Whether or not a settlement is the right decision for you in light of the unique circumstances underlying your worker’s compensation claim is not an easy assessment, to say the least.
Determining not only if you should settle, but also when to settle, how much to settle for, and how to go about settling your claim are all very complex questions that will require some guidance from an experienced worker’s compensation lawyer. If you find yourself in the Atlanta, Georgia area, experienced workers’ comp lawyer John B. Jackson comes highly recommended.
If you are struggling with whether to settle your worker’s compensation claim or even if you are still contemplating whether or not to even file a workers’ compensation claim in the first place, Mr. Jackson can help you receive the full and fair compensation for injuries that you have sustained on the job. If settling your workers’ comp claim is the right choice for you, this is not a legal endeavor that you should embark upon without some guidance from a legal representative.
Settling Your Workers’ Compensation Claim: An Overview
The beauty of settlement is that it isn’t mandatory. In fact, it is completely voluntary. You are under no mandatory obligation to settle. Similarly, if your employer or his insurance company is not amenable to your settlement terms, they are under no obligation to settle either. Nevertheless, Georgia law favors settlement whenever possible. Informal resolution is always preferred to the lengthy, expensive, not to mention mentally and emotionally draining process that inevitably comes with taking your claim to court.
If you do decide to settle, your settlement will require one of two processes depending upon whether your employer disputes your claim or not. The required documentation that is required under either type of settlement is best left to your workers’ compensation attorney.
Should you decide to settle, you will likely receive compensation for your work-related injuries in one lump sum payment. You are entitled to workers compensation benefits for an extended period of time if you need ongoing medical treatment for your injuries. However, if you accept a lump sum settlement, you are essentially relinquishing your entitlement to any potential worker’s compensation benefits that you may have received in the future, if your ongoing care is not outlined in the settlement.
Some Key Considerations When Deciding Whether or Not to Settle Your Claim for Work-Related Injuries
If you settle, you forego weekly payment of your worker’s compensation benefits
While that nice lump sum may be the best choice for many injured workers, that is not always the case. The probable length of time that you may require future treatment or require time off of work may be a key indication that weekly benefits rather than a lump sum settlement payment is in your best interest.
Your lump sum settlement may be reduced by litigation costs
There are certain legal fees that may be deducted from your settlement proceeds. A Workers’ Compensation attorney can help you understand the nature and extent of these fees under your particular set of circumstances.
You will be unable to change your mind once the paperwork for your settlement is signed
Once your settlement has been approved, you will be unable to go back and do things differently. It may be possible to gain additional compensation after signing off on an injury, but it will not be easy or inexpensive. Should you decide to go the settlement route, ensure that this is truly the best decision for you. Take your time. Contact a legal representative. Do not feel pressured to settle your claim before fully understanding the repercussions.
Are you done treating and being evaluated for your work-related injuries?
Until you have a complete understanding of the nature and severity of your injuries, not to mention how much time your injury may inhibit you from working in the same capacity that you were in your pre-accident physical state. Ultimately, it will be nearly impossible for you to accurately predict or assess the value of your workers’ compensation claim – including the amount of compensation that you will require to be fully compensated for your injuries sustained on the job- absent a full understanding of the extent of your injuries.
Settlement and Social Security
The amount of social security benefits that you receive in the future may be reduced if you are also receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Ensuring that your social security benefits are not diminished, if not completely eliminated, will require a knowledgeable workers’ comp attorney to assess the impact of this contingency on your overall recovery and to ensure that any potential settlement is structured in such a way that your right to social security benefits is not in jeopardy.
What Happens After I Decide to Settle My Workers’ Compensation Claim?
For starters, your settlement will not be valid until it is approved by the Workers’ Compensation Board. While a hearing is often a requirement when pursuing a workers’ compensation claim, a hearing will not be required when you request approval from the board as to your settlement agreement. Rather, there is a plethora of paperwork that will need to be filled out and submitted to the board. As soon as your settlement is approved by the Workers’ Compensation Board, you can expect your lump sum payment in less than a month.
Consult with a Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorney to Discuss Settling Your Case
At the end of the day, whether you have already filed a claim for injuries sustained on the job, your first step should be to contact an experienced compensation claim lawyer. You are 100% entitled to represent yourself under Georgia law. However, ensuring that you receive the full monetary damages that you are entitled to under the law is an endeavor best left to a workers’ compensation attorney. Allow the experienced attorneys at the Law Office of John B. Jackson to take it from here.
Our team of skilled lawyers will protect your rights. Call today to schedule a free consultation.