I have a client whose de facto husband–with whom she had two sons–died in a roofing accident. Under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act, the sons can receive the workers’ compensation benefits at the weekly rate to which he would be entitled had he lived (2/3 his average weekly wage up to the $525 per week current cap) until the youngest child reaches 18, or even until he reaches 22 if he continues his education. There’s also a $7500 burial allowance that should be paid immediately.
Very shortly after this man died, however, a field adjuster for Amerisafe Risk Services showed up at the widow’s door and asked if they would just settle the entire workers’ compensation claim for $7,000. The widow hardly speaks English; she and her de facto husband were both from Mexico and spoke Spanish. Luckily, a good neighbor (a real one, not someone from State Farm) was there at the house, translated, and then conveyed the horror at such an obvious “low ball” and insulting offer immediately after her loved one’s death. The adjuster quickly multiplied by 10 and offered $70,000. Luckily again, the widow chose to seek legal counsel instead of accepting this dollar figure.
That was two years ago. The family has been paid the weekly workers’ compensation benefits to which they’re entitled ever since the fatal accident. The remaining exposure for these weekly benefits is just under $500,000. Had the widow accepted the racist adjuster’s in-person offer, she would have forfeited over $550,000 and likely would have had to go on government assistance to raise her two small children instead of letting the workers’ comp system do that for which it was designed.
So, if the breadwinner in your family dies at work, and an adjuster shows up at your house to offer some money to close out the entire claim on the spot, will you take it? Please say “no.” Especially if you have a language barrier issue.