Your first question after agreeing to a settlement amount will likely be “when do I get my money?” This is perfectly reasonable given how stressful the settlement process can be so I want you to understand what happens after we reach agreement on a dollar figure at a mediation or through direct negotiation with the insurance company.
Unfortunately there is a lot of paperwork associate with this process and you may end up waiting several weeks before actually receiving your money. One small consolation – while the paperwork is being processed you will continue to receive your TTD (weekly wage benefit) checks and you can continue to visit the workers compensation doctor. You also remain eligible for mileage reimbursement.
Your Benefits Continue During Settlement Process
Further, until both we and the insurance company attorney sign off on the settlement stipulation, and the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation stamps its approval, we have the right to change our minds and cancel the settlement. Of course, this cuts both ways – insurance companies have been known to use private investigators to watch you and videotape you even after settlement has been reached so you need to remain diligent and to follow your doctor’s restrictions on lifting and other physical activities.
Settlement Paperwork Prepared and Reviewed
Once we have agreed on a settlement amount, the insurance company’s lawyer will prepare settlement documents. This set of documents will include a brief description of the dispute and language indicating that the parties have agreed on a settlement. The settlement paperwork may also include a release of other legal claims (such as claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and employment discrimination laws) and most likely a resignation from employment.
If your case includes a Medicare Set Aside then the settlement documents will describe that as well. Medicare Set Asides will also require us to submit the proposed settlement to a Set Aside consultant for review – this will add several days to the process.
We Will Discuss Every Page of the Settlement Paperwork Package
When I get the settlement package I will review it for mistakes and misstatements of fact. Sometimes, for example, there may be overly broad language in the settlement paperwork that could negatively impact your right to pursue Social Security disability, or there could be errors of fact. I often mark up the settlement paperwork and negotiate a revision before even considering presenting to you for signature (although I will keep you posted as to every step in this process).
Once I have reviewed and revised the settlement paperwork, you and I will go over every page of it with you – this may be done in person or over the phone. After you and I have reviewed, we will sign the documents and return them to the insurance company for submission to the State Board.
Submission for Approval at the State Board and Issuance of Payment
The State Board lawyers will review the settlement paperwork and stamp the settlement as “approved” – usually within about 2 weeks. Occasionally the State Board will send the paperwork back for a revision.
Once we have a State Board approved settlement, the insurance company has 20 days to issue checks. If they are late you are entitled to a penalty payment.