What you should know before accepting a workers’ comp settlement in Georgia
If you’ve been hurt on the job, you’ve probably filed for workers’ compensation. This program exists to support you financially during a period when you can’t work and create income.
However, when drawing workers’ compensation benefits, you may face a dilemma of whether or not to accept a settlement. There are some advantages and disadvantages to both, so let’s take a look together.
When you are facing a workers’ compensation settlement, it would be to your benefit to hire an experienced lawyer to guide you through this complicated process. Each case is different, so it’s important to consider all of the factors in your case.
That said, here are some general advantages and disadvantages of accepting a settlement offer.
Pro: Puts an end to your case
Workers’ compensation disputes sometimes take months or even years to wrap up. By the time you are offered a settlement, you are probably very anxious to get things over with. This is especially true if you have already reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) or recently returned to work.
Con: Can cause you to give up your rights
Ending a case also means you give up certain rights. For example, in taking a settlement you will likely be required to agree not to pursue any further legal action. Most insurance companies require a clause that prevents you from requesting workers’ compensation benefits for the same injury as well.
Pro: Shortens the wait
Backlogs in the court system can take a long time to resolve in some cases. So rather than waiting for a court date, you can schedule a settlement much sooner. Settlements typically require an arbitrator or mediator and are therefore not beholden to a particular judge’s schedule.
Con: May require several rounds of negotiation
While you can avoid a lengthy, drawn-out legal battle with settlement negotiation, you should also know that initial settlement offers are normally rather low. Insurance companies are banking on the fact that you are ready to get things over with. They hope that you will accept whatever offer they throw out at you. Consequently, it’s common to go through several rounds of negotiations before finally reaching an acceptable figure. This back and forth may take a toll on you and your family.
Pro: Allows a lump sum payment
Judges are often hesitant to award lump-sum payments at trial. Accordingly, you could be limited to weekly or monthly payments for a period of several months or years. This, in turn, can make it more difficult to pay off any major medical expenses you have accrued while awaiting your settlement. A settlement, on the other hand, can allow you to receive a lump-sum payment.
Con: You could run out of money
Having a lump sum payment can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it provides you with enough cash to start over. On the other hand, you have to plan very carefully for any future medical expenses. If you are worried about blowing your lump-sum settlement, ask your attorney about the possibility of having a structured settlement instead.
Pro: Eliminates the risk
Reaching a settlement agreement requires both parties to compromise. This means that you have greater control over the outcome so that there are fewer surprises. Most of all, you have virtually assured some form of compensation. Remember that in a traditional court trial, there is always the chance that you will eventually come up empty-handed.
Con: May receive a lowball offer
Insurance companies know that most people would rather eliminate a risky court trial. As such, they will often provide lowball offers hoping that you will accept them out of fear, frustration, or impatience. Knowing when to accept an offer and when to walk away is very difficult. Our workers’ compensation attorneys are well qualified to advise you in such matters and will ensure your best interests are protected.
Pro: An attorney can negotiate better for you
During settlement proceedings, an attorney can do the negotiating for you. A workers’ compensation lawyer is on equal footing with the insurance company’s attorney so there will not be any sleight of hand. An insurance company will also be more willing to respect your rights if they know that you have a lawyer who is fighting for you.
Con: Requires negotiating skills
To reach a fair settlement, you will have to have keen negotiating skills. Most people are not equipped to go up against insurance companies, who negotiate settlements day in and day out. Subsequently, many accident victims initially believe they are receiving a fair deal, but find out later that they have been severely shortchanged.
Should you settle your workers’ compensation claim or not?
A workers’ compensation settlement should never be taken lightly. Instead, you should consider a number of factors when deciding whether or not to accept a settlement.
How do you know when you have been offered a fair deal?
Having an attorney represent you proves invaluable when it comes to navigating the settlement process. Rather than guessing as to what is or isn’t fair, you can rely on the professional opinion of an experienced legal counselor. Instead of facing insurance company giants alone, you can face settlement proceedings with confidence knowing that someone else is fighting for your rights.
Many people successfully handle their workers’ compensation claims on their own. However, when it comes to a settlement you should leave nothing to chance. Don’t go it alone when you can have a reputable Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer represent you.
Are you facing the possibility of a workers’ compensation settlement? If so, it’s not too late to seek legal representation. Allow the professionals at Gerber & Holder Law to help you achieve the best settlement possible. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.