In Georgia workers' compensation claims, if you or your attorney reach a settlement with the adjuster, the adjuster will then have one of their attorneys prepare the settlement documents. These documents are referred to as a "stipulation and settlement agreement" and they will then be sent to you (or your attorney if represented) for review and signature.
Once you have reviewed, signed, and returned the documents, then the insurer's attorney signs them and submits them electronically to the State Board of Workers' Compensation for review and approval,. For all of the steps up to this point, there is no set time frame, but it is in the interest of all parties to move as quickly as possible, particularly if the insurer is paying ongoing benefits and wants to limit their liability exposure.
Once the settlement documents are submitted electronically to the Board, it generally takes no more than 10 days for the Board to approve the settlement agreement if everything is in order. The Board has done an oustanding job in reducing processing times for approving settlements, and in some cases settlements are approved on the same day they are submitted.
Once the Board approves your settlement, then the clock starts ticking for the insurer to issue payment. Following approval, the insurer has 20 days to ensure that you are in receipt of your settlement funds. If the insurer fails to provide your settlement funds to you (or to your attorney on your behalf), then the insurer will likely be required to pay an additional 20% of the value of the entire settlement as a late penalty.
Based on the facts set forth in your question, it does not appear that you are represented by an attorney. Regardless of whether you are represented, however, the information provided in this answer is for general informational purposes only and is based on my experience in processing settlements for my workers' compensation clients. Every case is different, though, and I have had some rare cases even recently where it has taken longer than the time frames discussed above to get all details worked out for settlement approval.
As stated above, your question leads me to believe you are not represented. If you are not, then you may want to consider contacting a local workers' compensation attorney to review the settlement documents for you. Review of any proposed settlement document by an experienced workers' compensation attorney is important both to ensure that the appropriate language is included therein to protect your rights, and also to ensure that the amount for which you are settling is fair and reasonable in light of all circumstances specific to your case.
I hope this provides some guidance, and I wish you all the best with your claim and with your health and medical recovery.
Timothy M. Klob
Klob Law Firm
Provision of information in response to this question does not create an attorney-client relationship and the questioner is encouraged to seek and retain legal counsel in order to discuss their question(s) further and directly with legal counsel. Respondent is licensed to practice law in Georgia before all Georgia courts for non-Federal matters with a primary focus on personal injury and workers' compensation. Respondent is also authorized by the Social Security Administration to represent claimants nationwide in Social Security Disability claims, and is admitted to practice before the United States District Courts for the Northern Districts of Georgia and Texas, respectively, for federal matters including judicial review of Social Security matters. The questioner is advised that some responses on this site are provided by attorneys who are not licensed in the respective jurisdiction of the questioner, and any advice from attorneys on this site concerning state-specific areas such as workers' compensation by attorneys who are not licensed in the applicable and appropriate jurisdiction should be viewed as for general educational purposes and should generally be given lesser weight than responses by attorneys licensed in the governing jurisdiction. Response to this question further assumes that the questioner is not currently represented by counsel, and if this is not the case, then it is recommended that any further questions or concerns be directed to their current legal counsel.
Has everyone signed it yet? That is the first step.
We give free general concepts to be helpful, but you should give ALL your facts to a licensed Attorney in your state before you RELY upon any legal advice.
Mr. Klob has given you a great response to your question. Clearly if you have not signed a "Stipulation & Settlement Agreement", you will want to find out the status of this document
If you have agreed upon the legal language and signed the "Stipulation & Settlement Agreement", then you will want to follow up and find out if it has been filed with the State Board of Workers Compensation.
You can call the State Board and inquire to if they have received the "Stipulation & Settlement Agreement", once it is approved they will mail you a file stamped copy showing the date it was approved. It is from that date that the insurance company has 20 days to issue the agreed upon amount of the settlement.
This response is for general information only, no attorney client privilege has been established by this communication.
Unless you have signed something, there is no real agreement which you can enforce. Therefore, follow up with the adjuster about the stipulation and make sure to make copies of anything you sign or receive. You may also want to sit down with a Worker's Compensation attorney for a free consultation to make sure there is nothing your are missing, such as future medical expense responsibility, continued employment, etc. The adjuster works for the insurance company, not for you, so it is in their best interest to get you to take as little as possible.
The above information is general in nature. In order to obtain more specific and legal advice upon which to base your important decisions, please contact our office directly for a free phone or in person consultation. Robert M. Gardner, Jr. Hicks, Massey & Gardner, LLP firstname.lastname@example.org 53 W. Candler St. Or 718 Oak St. Winder, Ga. 30680 Gainesville, Georgia (770) 307-4899 (770) 538-0555 gadebtlaw.com hicksmasseyandgardner.com serving metro Atlanta and all of Northeast Georgia Bankruptcy, Divorce, Personal Injury, Worker’s Compensation, Medical Malpractice, Adoption, Civil and Criminal Litigation
The agreement has to be reduced to writing in a formal settlement document. This will be done by their attorney. After you sign it and returned it to defense counsel, the Board can approve it within a couple of days.