My clients are often surprised to learn that State Board judges do not render lump sum awards or verdicts about cases. Unlike a personal injury negligence case where a judge or jury serves as a finder of fact and determines whether you won or lost your case, judges in workers’ compensation cases decide disputed issues. For example, we may have a dispute with the insurance company about which doctor should serve as the treating physician, or whether the insurance company was within its rights to cut off your benefit. Other disputes involve such things as penalties for late TTD checks or who should have to pay for an MRI.
Workers comp. judges do not decide how much a case is worth or render a final dollar judgment.
Settlement in your case is totally voluntary – neither you nor the insurance company has to settle. In theory you can collect TTD (weekly wage benefits) for up to 400 weeks, and, in theory, the insurance company will remain on the hook for your medical costs forever.
In reality, however, both sides have an incentive to settle your case. Insurance companies do not like to have open, unknown liabilities on their books. From our persective, I know that at some point the insurance company will try to cut you off and that the settlement value of your case will diminish as the insurance company’s exposure becomes less unclear. Many times I can reach a settlement with the insurance company through direct negotiation. Having been a defense counsel, I know how insurance companies value claims and I can usually estimate how much money they assign to a case. In other cases, however, my calcuation of the settlement value of your case is far higher than the insurance company’s offer. In those cases, I have found that a settlement mediation can be very helpful.
Settlement mediations are presided over by independent third parties – often retired judges or lawyers who have taken mediation training. In this video I explain how a settlement mediation works and why it can be an effective tool to obtain a lump sum settlement for you.
Attorney Jodi Ginsberg represents employees who are injured on the job and who need medical care and missed wage benefits available under Georgia's workers' compensation laws.
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