Workers’ Compensation Settlements in Norcross
Unlike other states that do not permit settlements, Norcross Workers’ Compensation rules allow claimants to settle matters by stipulated payments and lump sum advances. The Settlement Division of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation assists with expediting claims to reach timely resolutions.
A skilled attorney can provide legal advice regarding whether it is more suitable to take incremental disbursements or elect a lump-sum payment. The lawyer can also assist with the necessary documentation and hearing involved with Norcross workers’ compensation settlements.
Lump-Sum Award Factors
Under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated Section 34-9-222, the Board may determine whether it is in the employee’s best interest to award a lump sum payment. Factors the Board considers include preventing extreme hardship, paying medical expenses, and improving the employee’s rehabilitation. Claimants with serious injuries resulting in the need for long term medical care may benefit from incremental payments where interest is calculated to offset the time-value-of-money issue. The lump-sum award is not a certainty as parties have the right to object to the settlement and elect to cross-examine any adverse party via deposition.
Workers’ Compensation Depositions
A deposition constitutes sworn testimony given under oath, where the claimant will have to answer questions about the workplace accident, treatment, background questions, limitations, and other related inquiries. The questioning may sound like a conversation, but every question and answer is recorded into a transcript for later review. Although claimants may represent themselves at any Workers’ Compensation hearing or deposition, an attorney is vital to prepare beforehand, gather exhibits, object to improper or illegal questions, and revise the deposition transcript via errata documents once the deposition is completed. Claimants must keep in mind that the sworn deposition testimony can be used to impeach the claimant at a later hearing if the latter testimony deviates from prior testimony. Inconsistent statements can support a denial of an application or reduction of benefits.
Instead of a formal Workers’ Compensation hearing, the parties may agree to stipulated settlements. Usually, insurers will need to thoroughly evaluate both the accident facts, including relevant affidavits, testimony, and photo-visual recordings, as well as the claimed damages, including medical reports, diagnostic studies, and hospital records.
Workers’ Compensation rules require that liability stipulations state all reasonable and necessary incurred medical expenses to be paid by the insurer. A Norcross Workers’ Compensation attorney can help determine what costs will pass muster, including medical reimbursements, assistive devices (canes, crutches, wheelchairs, braces, stints, slings), transportation to treatment, hired help, and other similar payments. The need for future medical treatment must also be addressed, which could require the consultation of death tables and expert medical recommendations.
In cases where an insurer disputes the validity of a claimant’s application, the parties may agree to a non-liability settlement to resolve the dispute. In these cases, the settlement is agreed upon despite disagreements in the claim or accident’s validity. An employer may elect a non-liability settlement but disagree as to fault.
Factors Affecting Settlement Negotiations
The calculation of a Workers’ Compensation settlement in Norcross is complicated. Insurers will look to deny or minimize claims to save shareholders’ capital. Factors that will be considered include the seriousness of the injury claims, whether there is conflicting evidence, and the claimant’s ability to return to work.
Conflicting evidence can include social media posts, surveillance, or affidavits from non-parties that contradict a claimant’s testimony. Conflicting evidence examples include a claimant that chooses not to return to work even though a treating physician clears them for work, resulting in a challenge to the validity of why they are no longer working. Alternatively, a doctor may clear a claimant for light-duty or sedentary work. A worker that does not apply for light-duty or sedentary work could be challenged in light of the doctor’s report.
Contact a Workers’ Compensation to Discuss Your Settlement Today
Any injured worker should consult legal advice to determine whether they will likely be entitled to a settlement and what that settlement amount may be. No lawyer can guarantee a settlement, but depending upon the facts of the case, medical evidence, supporting documentation, and past cases, a Workers’ Compensation lawyer can help devise a general idea of what to expect from the Workers’ Compensation Board. If you have questions about Workers’ compensation settlements in Norcross, contact an attorney today for more information.