In my law practice, we represent so many workers who sustained shoulder injuries on the job.
Now here is a question that we are consistently asked by those workers and their families.
What is a fair settlement for my shoulder injury under Georgia's workers' compensation system?
The only HONEST answer I - or anyone else - should be telling you is - "it depends."
There are a lot of attorneys out there that may tell you they think the case is worth $50,000 or $100,000 or $250,000.00.
This is misleading and honestly - it's just wrong for them to be doing this.
They are really doing a disservice to the injured worker because they do not have enough information to give an opinion regarding the true value of the case.
I would want to know the following important factors about their shoulder injury:
(1) An accurate Diagnosis of the injury.
Sometimes - it is too soon to tell because additional testing needs to be done - like an MRI.
(2) The doctor's proposed treatment plan? In other words - What are they going to do for you?
(3) What is the length of anticipated disability? How long will it take for you to recover?
(4) Will future medical care be necessary for you? And if so, how much will that cost?
Now these questions just deal with the injury and your need for medical treatment. But there are other factors in our workers' compensation system here in Georgia that affect value.
- How much were you making at work before you were injured?
- Are you receiving weekly compensation checks? And if so, in what amount?
These factors are so important because we want to make sure you are receiving the correct amount of money in weekly checks. Also, when calculating the settlement value of a workers' compensation claim, it is important to know what the insurance company's exposure could potentially be for future wage benefits.
For example - if the insurance company is paying you the maximum amount of worker's compensation weekly checks - which is currently $575.00 per week - just one year of wage checks is almost $30,000.00. If you are disabled for three years, this is almost $90,000.00 in just wage benefits.
When you add-in how much the insurance company may also have to pay for future medical treatment - including prescription drugs, physical therapy, additional tests - the future medical needs could also be in the thousands - if not - tens of thousands of dollars.
What Does This Mean For You?
There are 2 things that I always stress to people that call us about their workers' compensation claims:
(1) Hire an attorney.
And not just any attorney, but hire someone that specializes in workers' compensation.
The last thing an injured worker should do is hire someone that handles a little bit of every kind of law - from DUI's, to divorces, to real estate transactions - and then allow them to handle your workers' compensation claim.
You need a specialist.
(2) The second thing is to make sure you get the treatment you need so you can get better. You had your health before your on the job injury, and that is what you need when all is said and done.
And I'll tell you this as well. We are constantly receiving calls from people that hired other attorneys for their workers' compensation claims, or their personal injury claims - or they tried to handle the case on their own - and they settled their case because they thought they were better or would get better.
But their health declined and they didn't get better.
Please understand - once your case is settled, that's it. So please - don't make that mistake.
If you hire our firm to handle your case, we work on a contingency fee basis.
This means you don't pay me a retainer - no money up front; I'm not paid by the hour, the phone call, the meeting, email or letter.
I only get paid if there is a recovery for you.
Under Georgia's workers' compensation system, the attorneys' fees are just 25% of the recovery. Plus - as an added protection to all injured workers in this state - no attorneys' fees can be charged unless the State Board approves it.
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