Learn how our experienced Georgia workers’ comp attorneys can help negotiate or resolve a lien
If you have been injured at work and need to file a workers’ compensation claim in Georgia, you might be surprised to learn that a portion of your settlement may actually be issued to the insurance company. This is due to something known as a “lien”.
If your workers’ compensation case involves a lien, your best chance for resolving it is by using an experienced lawyer who can walk with you through this complicated process.
What is a workers’ compensation lien?
Many people don’t realize that they may actually have 2 completely separate cases when they experience an injury at work.
How does this happen?
Let’s take a look at an example.
Suppose you are traveling for work when you are involved in a vehicle accident through no fault of your own. You are injured as a result of the accident.
In this example, you would likely have 2 separate cases.
First, you would have a workers’ comp case because you were injured while involved in an occupational capacity. Second, you would also have a case against the driver who caused the accident.
Workers’ compensation in Georgia covers medical benefits, temporary total disability and permanent partial disability.
- Temporary total disability is what a worker is paid when they are temporarily unable to work due to their injuries. These benefits are typically two-thirds of your average weekly wage (AWW). Your AWW is determined by finding the average rate of what your gross pay was during the year prior to your injury.
- Permanent partial disability refers to benefits that are paid at the conclusion of the case. These benefits vary based on the severity of the worker’s injury as well as the part of the body affected by the injury, any related restrictions, the worker’s age, wage rate and job description.
While workers’ compensation does not pay for non-economic damages like pain and suffering, in the example above, you might be able to recoup these benefits as part of your case against the driver responsible for the auto accident.
In fact, compensation for the pain and suffering can involve a significant amount of money. For this reason, it’s typically advisable if you’re facing a 2-case scenario to consult with an attorney who is experienced in handling workers’ compensation cases as well as personal injury cases.
There may be 2 possible options for you in this example.
One option would be to first settle the workers’ compensation case and then move on to settle the case against the insurance company of the at-fault driver. Another option would be to do nothing with the workers’ compensation case and instead focus on settling the case with the at-fault driver.
If the first option is used, a workers’ comp lien may arise.
A workers’ comp lien is the legal right the workers’ compensation company has to file against any financial compensation you receive from the second case (the case you have against the insurance company of the at-fault driver).
For instance, suppose you receive a total of $100,000 as part of your workers’ compensation benefits. This includes total temporary disability payments as well as medical payments. Now, suppose that you received a $200,000 settlement from the case involving the at-fault driver.
Does this mean that you are allowed to keep the full $300,000?
Probably not. The reason is due to the workers’ compensation lien. In other words, the workers’ compensation insurance company is not going to allow you to essentially “double-dip.” If you receive a payment from the personal injury case, you will be required to pay back any benefits you received from the workers’ compensation company.
In this example, you would be required to pay back at least a portion of the money you received from the workers’ compensation case. In the event you have retained an attorney, you would also be responsible for paying your attorney’s fees along with expenses, such as depositions, medical records, filing fees, etc.
If this seems confusing, it’s because workers’ compensation liens are confusing.
Due to the complex nature of such liens, it’s important for workers to understand how to negotiate a workers’ comp lien. In most instances, you should consult with an attorney who is experienced in handling workers’ comp lien resolution.
Our experienced Georgia workers’ compensation attorneys can help to ensure you receive the maximum benefits due to you while also working with you to either negotiate or resolve a lien. At Gerber & Holder Law, we are trained and ready to fight for your rights.