A common question that the Atlanta attorneys of the Ramos Law Firm are asked is “how much is my case worth?” While there is no amount of money that could fully compensate an injured worker for the pain and heartache she experiences, the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act provides a framework to consider.
First, it is important to consider the injured workers’ medical status. If the employee is facing surgery or is not close to maximum medical improvement (MMI), then the case should not settle. The rationale behind this rests in the fact that potential medical expenses may exceed the settlement proceeds. In other words, there is no point in settling a a case for $25,000 when the potential medical expenses may cost $40,000. It is more sound to settle the case after the injured employee’s medical condition has improved or has stablized. Therefore, the injured worker must carefully consider the value of his or her future medical expenses as it relates to the industrial accident.
Assuming the employee’s medical status is plateaued, the next consideration is whether the claimant is physically able to return to work in some capacity. The ability to return to work does not necessarily mean returning to “regular” or “normal” duty work. Whether the injured worker can return to work for any employer influences the overall value of the case. If the claimant cannot return to work in any capacity or is totally disabled, the value of the claim generally increases.
Moreover, if the injury is severe, the injured worker’s permanent impairment may be significant. Georgia law provides another formula for compensating the employee for the permanent loss of use as it relates to the occupational injury. The formula considers the claimant’s weekly compensation rate, the affected body party, and the level of impairment. This rating is very specific and incorporates the American Medical Association’s Guides to Impairment (5th Edition).
As you can see, there are many factors to consider how much a workers’ compensation claim may be “worth.” However, the actual value of the case depends on what the insurance company will pay and how much or little the injured worker will take. No two claims are the same and it is important to consult a workers’ compensation expert like the attorneys at the Ramos Law Firm to navigate the complex work comp law.