THERE ARE RISKS AND BENEFITS TO SETTLING A WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CLAIM.
Settling your workers’ compensation case is big decision. “Settlement” generally translates to a voluntary closure of the case by both parties where you will be relieving the insurance company and employer from the obligation and liability for medical care and income benefits related to your work accident in exchange for a lump sum of money.
On the bright side, the closing or settling of your case means that you will be free from the insurance company’s control of your medical care; you will be free from the insurance company “investigating” you; and you will be free to secure another job.
To ensure the complete closure and separation, the insurance company usually requires that you voluntarily resign from the current employer. This resignation may impact other items you may be entitled to receive, such as retirement benefits, monetary bonuses, health insurance coverage, disability insurance coverage, flight privileges, and numerous other valuable perks and fringe benefits. There is no dispute that employees work hard for these benefits which they do not want to forgo given the fact that it likely took many years to earn. The insurance company will also insist that you execute a “general release” of all other possible claims against the employer. These other claims include discrimination, past payment of wages, and other employment causes of action.
Your concerns about waiving these collateral rights are valid and should be discussed with a workers’ compensation attorney. As the handling of these “fringe benefits” normally fall outside the scope of the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act, you should be encouraged to seek the services of your respective union representative, human resources, and other legal expert who specialize in this area of law.
Likewise, you must be mindful of possible ERISA- or COBRA-related issues that may arise during the handling of your claim or settlement. ERISA claims are often very complex. Although your workers’ compensation attorney may identify a potential ERISA violation, the claim will probably be referred to another attorney who handles these claims exclusively.
Our attorneys specialize in Georgia workers’ compensation matters only. However, we appreciate that one aspect of the workers’ compensation claim may impact another benefit you may be entitled to receive. Should this occur, we will advise you accordingly and if you need the services of another experienced attorney who can address that non-workers’ compensation issue, we will gladly assist.
Contact Ramos & Law for more information.
These case studies are not meant to promise or guarantee a certain or similar result, but rather to demonstrate the legal attention and work ethic our attorneys assert in our cases. Every case is different and is fact sensitive. Certain facts can greatly influence and determine a client’s award, outcome, and recovery.
An employee worked for a manufacturer of outdoor power products in Middle Georgia. His job required him to pull pallets of material across the work area. As a result, he experienced a back strain. The manufacturer denied the claim and contested his need for medical care. Ramos & Law was able to secure helpful diagnostic scans and meaningful medical care for the injured worker. After a few months of litigation, the parties reached a settlement of $65,000 with a complete resolution of all outstanding medical bills.
An employee was stocking heavy merchandise for a large retailer in Columbus, Georgia. During the course of her job duties, a stocking cart of the merchandise fell on her right foot and great toe. The national retailer directed her to its company doctors but she received very little relief. The attorneys at Ramos & Law were able to navigate her medical care to more qualified doctors where she received a better overall results. As she reached maximum medical improvement, the large retailer settled the claim for over $100,000 and paid for all of her past medical treatment.
Failed Back Syndrome
An employee was working part-time for a large automotive parts store. The employee fell off a ladder injuring his teeth, neck, ribs, and low back. After exhausting conservative medical care, physical therapy, injection regimens, and medication, it became clear that this injured employee required the need for spinal surgery. While the insurance company fought the surgery, Ramos & Law was able to force the insurance company into paying for the surgery and associated therapies including the implant of a spinal cord stimulator. Given the severity of the injury, Ramos & Law was able to refer the client to a federal disability benefit specialist who assisted him in securing Social Security. This part-time employee settled his case for $185,000 plus almost $300,000 in future medical care.
Low Back Herniations
A pediatric physician injured his back while assisting a child off an examining room table. As a result, the physician herniated several discs in his spine which also triggered depressive mental episodes. While the insurance company denied medical coverage for his numerous symptoms, Ramos & Law was able to secure quality medical care for the employee including orthopedic care, psychiatric treatment, a spinal cord stimulator, and physical therapy. Additionally, the employee received on-going income benefits at the maximum workers' compensation rate. At the end of the case, the matter settled for a figure close to $250,000 in addition to payment of previous medical bills.
An employee at a beverage maker in Atlanta was stocking heavy cases of merchandise when she felt severe neck and shoulder pain. It was revealed that she suffered a torn rotator cuff. While the beverage maker initially denied her medical care, Ramos & Law was able to convince the employer to approve her treatment plan and accept the case. After months attempting to return to work, it was clear that the employer was not able to accommodate her medical limitations. As a result, the case settled for $115,000, along with all her medical bills being paid.
A part-time grocery employee fell into a tub of “degreaser” that caused severe third degree burns over his torso and buttocks region. The employee required immediate medical care and several weeks in the intensive care unit within the local burn center. The costs of the care reached in the millions of dollars. While the grocery store denied liability for the accident, the attorneys at Ramos & Law were able to secure a settlement of $250,000 in addition to the employer’s acknowledgment to pay for all past medical bills.