If you want to maximize the settlement value of your Georgia workers’ compensation case, you and your attorney need to identify the right time to settle. Timing really is that important.
Understand that insurance companies settle claims in order to eliminate uncertainty:
- will they have to pay you TTD (lost wage) benefits for months or years to come?
- will they have to pay for your surgery or surgeries and extensive rehabilitation?
- will you be assigned a large PPD (permanent partial disability) rating?
When these uncertainties disappear, your case loses settlement value.
How a Work Injury Case Can Become Stale
Claimant #1 is “Joe” who was injured on the job 2 years ago. Joe collected TTD benefits for 14 months, then underwent back surgery and after 3 months of rehab was released to full duty work. The doctor issued an 8% PPD rating. Joe insists that his back still hurts and he will not go back to work.
Claimant #2 is “Sam” who was injured on the job 9 months ago. Sam has been collecting TTD benefits since his accident. He has tried physical therapy and epidural injections. Now at month 9, Sam’s doctor is recommending a lumbar fusion but Sam is not sure he wants to undergo surgery.
The insurance adjuster looking at Joe’s case sees the following:
- there are no ongoing TTD benefits and because of the full duty release, it is unlikely that TTD benefits will be restarted
- Joe has undergone surgery and rehab, and was released to full duty work
- Joe has a PPD rating
There is very little uncertainty here and very little financial exposure for the insurance company.The insurance adjuster looking at Sam’s case sees the following:
- Sam is collecting TTD and may be eligible to collect for the foreseeable future, perhaps as long as the 400 week (7+ year maximum)
- Sam has yet to undergo surgery, which has a cost and there is the possibility that there will be surgical complications or additional surgeries necessary.
- it is too early for the doctor to issue a PPD rating and depending on how the surgery goes that PPD rating could be very high (or low)
When you break down these two cases, you can probably see why Sam’s case has a higher potential value than Joe’s case. If Sam’s case would warrant a settlement of $125,000, Joe’s might only be worth $10,000 to $15,000. The insurance company sees a lot more unknown costs in Sam’s case.
Joe’s case has grown stale because it is unlikely that there will be any significant future costs.
Had Joe considered settling his case prior to or right after his surgery, or before he was released to full duty work, his case would have been worth more money.
Stop Your Case from Growing Stale and Losing Value
These two examples offer a very general overview about how insurance companies value cases. Often, we have to make difficult decisions, like choosing to forego surgery for the time being, or challenging the posted panel doctor’s PPD rating.
This is where you benefit from our 25+ years’ of experience in representing Georgia work injury clients and in preparing our clients’ cases for settlement. If we can help you please call us at 770-351-0801.