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The Complications Of Calculating Workers’ Compensation Benefits In Georgia

Our attorneys at Hilley & Frieder, P.C., have helped injured Georgia workers recover millions of dollars in workers’ compensation benefits. Our legal team understands the complexities of the workers’ compensation system in our state and how to help our clients get the benefits they deserve.

Calculating Income Benefits

When you are taken completely off work due to an on-the job injury, you are entitled to two-thirds of your average weekly wage (AWW) from Georgia workers’ compensation. AWW is calculated based on your earnings for the 13 weeks prior to your injury.

However, determining the amount of your weekly check can quickly become complicated. To make sure that you are receiving all the money you deserve, you may need the help of an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. For example, if you were working two similar jobs and now cannot work either job due to your injury on one, then you should be paid weekly disability benefits based on your earnings from both jobs. However, this is not something that the insurance company will offer to pay.

Factoring Restricted Duty Wage Benefits

If you are not taken off work but are placed on restricted duty with lower wages because of your injury, then you are entitled to weekly benefits.

For instance, if you had worked overtime prior to your injury but your employer has a policy of no overtime for light-duty workers, then you are entitled to two-thirds of your earnings loss. The insurance company is not likely to explore your overtime earnings loss, but an experienced lawyer can make sure that you are paid benefits based on all the earnings that you have lost.

Injured workers who have returned to work with restrictions (light-duty work) and are earning less than they made before their accidents are entitled to partial disability benefits. The amount of these payments is based on the difference between a worker’s average weekly wage and weekly earnings after their return to work on restricted duty.

What Is A Lump-Sum Workers’ Comp Settlement?

At some point after a workplace injury, the workers’ compensation insurance company may want to talk about a settlement. This can be either a one-time monetary payout or a structured settlement that provides periodic payments that will end in the future. The insurance company may also offer to provide medical benefits for a short period. Acceptance of a settlement offer resolves your workers’ compensation claim.

Should You Accept A Lump-Sum Workers’ Compensation Settlement?

The question of whether to accept a workers’ comp settlement offer can be very complex. Some settlement offers are in the best interests of injured workers, while others may deny them the workers’ compensation benefits that they deserve. Before you accept a lump-sum settlement offer, get legal advice from an experienced attorney to evaluate several considerations, such as:

  • How long can you expect to draw disability income benefits?
  • Will you be able to return to work? If so, will you have to change the type of work you do?
  • Is your condition medically stable, or do you have a continuing need for medical care?
  • Have you gotten well enough to return to work doing either your previous job or some other work?
  • If you will not be able to return to work, should you consider Social Security Disability?
  • Should you file for Social Security Disability before you settle your case or wait until after settling?
  • If Social Security Disability and Medicare are involved, part of the settlement will be money that you can use only for medical treatment that would otherwise be covered through the insurance company. This money is called a Medicare set aside (MSA). How the MSA is handled will affect how you can use the other settlement money.
  • Will some of your settlement have to be paid to cover disputed medical expenses, or can these expenses be paid at the lower rates of the workers’ compensation fee schedule?
  • Will some of your settlement have to be paid to another insurance company for subrogation or reimbursement?
  • Will some of the money have to be set up as periodic payments instead of a lump sum?
  • When is a good time to settle, considering when your medical benefits and weekly benefits will run out?
  • Will your case be worth more if you settle now or wait?

A settlement is a financial decision. You are trading your continuing right to medical care and weekly benefits for a lump sum of money. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you identify all the factors to consider for your case and reach the best decision.

Schedule A Free Consultation To Discuss Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Our lawyers at Hilley & Frieder offer free initial consultations. To schedule your free appointment, contact us by calling 404-795-6099 or complete our contact form.

Ronald Hilley was the contributing attorney to this content.

Attorney Mia Frieder Sitting In Office