I do not feel my attorney is as passionate about this case as I would like. I am now totally disabled (filed for SSDI and was approved in a couple of months), and as a result of loss of income cashed out my 401k to live on. I am getting weekly WC checks and am also getting SSDI payments now. But there are SO many things that I am unable to do now. I am on chronic pain meds (probably for life). My attorney says we don't want to include the cost of these meds in our "presentation" (something about a larger settlement), yet these cost me almost $5k a year in total costs. I am also the sole provider and caretaker for my 11 year old child. I have bills to pay (mortgage and all the usual) that required me to cash out my retirement. I need to feel warm and fuzzy about my case; right now I do not.
Discuss your concerns with your attorney. The fact you have now filed for SSDI impacts your workers' comp settlement as you will have to set aside a portion of any comp settlement to pay for your future medical treatment including your pain medicine. This means less money in your pocket if you do settle. It's called an MSA or medicare set aside. Also unfortunately you can't get pain and suffering as part of your w. comp claim. Workers' comp is designed to compensate you for 2/3 of your lost wages and your medical bills.
AS the other attorneys have mentioned, I would recommend that you have a conversation about your concerns with your lawyer. Has a Medicare Set Aside Trust (MSA) been prepared? You will need this because you have applied for SSDI. Also, are your pain meds covered by WC? It sounds as though you are paying for them out of pocket and it is unclear why they are not covered by WC. Hopefully, you will be awarded SSDI and Medicare will eventually provide medical coverage for your meds. I am sorry that you are having so many financial struggles. I do not think that you will feel warm and fuzzy when your case is resolved. To the other parties, this is a business transaction whereas for you, it is your life. Good luck.
I understand your trepidation. You need to make these feelings known to your attorney immediately. Further explanation may help you understand the rationale and strategy behind his or her advice. Unfortunately, warm and fuzzy feelings and advice often do not serve you in the long run. Real, practical advice is of much greater value. SSDI can often greatly complicate matters so discuss this with your attorney. If nothing else, the mediation is not binding and you do not have to settle. However, your attorney is in the best position to render advice, especially at this stage of your claim.
I wish you the best with the numerous challenges you face.
B. Shawn Rhodes
Powers and Rhodes, LLP
You are not required to settle your claim. It sounds like you are either not ready to settle or are on the same page with your attorney. Keep in mind that a settlement involves compromise. You have to agree to take less than everything your case may be worth. Otherwise the insurance carrier has no incentive to settle at all. So your attorney may be leaving things out, as a compromise, in an effort to get a settlement. Make an appointmet to talk to your attorney now about your concerns. You may need to hire a new attorney if he/she is not able to allay those concerns.
It is very difficult to feel "warm and fuzzy" about any situation such as yours, but a frank discussion with your attorney, as well as the information you can gather from a mediation, might make you feel more at ease. The mediation is an opportunity to learn what the insurer is willing to pay to resolve your case, at which point you can process whether or not receiving such will have a positive or negative effect on your live. This should definitely be proceeded by working on a "game plan" with your attorney to make certain you have a clear understanding of the process and you're on the same page.
You should either listen to your Attorney, or you should get another. I promise that you will not feel "warm and fuzzy" about your settlement option at Mediation. The Insurance Company and you will try to compromise, which means that you could get much more/less than the unknown Trial outcome. If you and the Defendant are both unhappy with a Mediation settlement, it was probably fair.
I always tell people that come to me with this same question that they should expect satisfaction with their attorney in a workers' compensation or other case. If your attorney is not addressing your needs, then you need to set an appointment with your attorney and get answers to your questions. You should definitely give him the opportunity to address your needs with regard to this matter.
Your workers' compensation case and your social security case are intertwined and do affect one another. If you settle your workers' compensation case, there should be specific language in the settlement in order to minimize what the social security administration can keep from you in your monthy social security disability check as an offset. This language is called Hartman language. In addition, funds will need to be put aside in the settlement process in a fund called a Medicare Set-Aside Account. These funds are for medical costs only that are related to your workers' compensation injury. This must be done to protect you from having your Medicare put in danger of being stopped.
With respect to your question regarding costly medications, you need to address your questions to the attorney and make sure he provides you with a satisfactory answer that you do understand. It is your lawyer's job to explain things to you in a manner that you can and will understand. If you are not clear on what he means with his response, make sure he knows you do not understand. This holds true with respect to this question or any other question that you may have.
As far as the things that you can no longer do because of your injury, unfortunately Georgia Workers' Comp law does not allow for you to recover for the loss of particular abilities except certain amounts that are payable as permanent partial disability.
As for feeling warm and fuzzy about a workers' compensation case in Georgia? It is not likely you will ever have that feeling because the law does not generally allow a recovery that is what many people would call fair and reasonable. I know as a workers' compensation lawyer that I can come to work every day and serve all my clients to the best of my ability, always choosing the right strategy at every turn and never making a mistake and most of my clients will still not be satisfied with the measure of benefits that they receive because the law does not allow them to receive enough in the form of benefits to adequately compensate them.
If your SSDI is NOT high enough to create an offset, you may be better-off trying the case as a permanent total disability case, provided that Georgia has lifetime benefits. Given your eligibility for SSDI, if you intend to settle you case, you MUST get Medicare's approval on an MSA (Medicare Set-Aside). This will take at least 6-9 months and will probably double the cost to your employer's insurance. That is why your attorney "didn't want to include" them. Of course, this would be fraud.
You really need to sit down with your attorney until you have a more complete understanding of your options, what is being recommended, and why.