What You Need to Know About Filing a Worker’s Comp. Claim in Georgia
One worker is injured on the job every 7 seconds.
What do you do if it is you?
What if it’s serious and you are out of work for a long time, or even permanently?
How do you file a claim? What if it gets denied? Do you need an attorney?
If you are injured on the job in Georgia, you may need to file a work injury compensation claim to recover your losses. Read ahead to learn what you need to know about filing a workers’ comp claim.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a state-mandated insurance system that requires employers and corporations to cover medical, rehabilitation and income benefits if you are injured on the job. It also provides benefits to your dependents if you die as a result of a work-related injury.
What Benefits Am I Entitled To?
In Georgia, employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Benefits are provided to help you return to work. These include:
Doctor and surgeon bills, medical treatment, prescriptions, hospitalization, travel expenses to and from medical facilities, physical therapy, etc are covered.
Your employer is required to post information identifying approved medical care providers. This may be a list of at least 6 doctors ar a managed care organization.
If you are out of work more than 7 days due to your injury, you may be eligible for monetary benefits, compensation for temporary and permanent disabilities as a result of the work-related injury. If you cannot return to your job, you may get help to find a different job or retraining and education programs.
Special benefits are paid if you lose a body part, use of a body part, your hearing or sight.
Income benefits are paid up to 400 weeks unless the injury is catastrophic.
Of course, if the job-related injury results in death, certain benefits are paid to your dependents. Your dependents are your surviving spouse (if they do not remarry) and your minor children and dependent stepchildren.
In order to qualify for benefits within the Georgia workers’ compensation system, there are specific guidelines that you must follow in order to file a workers’ compensation claim. Most importantly, report your injury immediately.
The Clock Is Ticking
Be sure to notify your employer (immediate supervisor, boss or manager) of the work-related accident as soon as it happens. Your employer must report your injury to their insurer within a very short period.
If you wait longer than 30 days to report the accident to your employer, you may lose your benefits. If you file a claim for work injury compensation, it must be done within one year of your accident date.
Get Medical Attention
If you are injured at work, seek medical attention immediately. Your employer has a posted list of at least 6 doctors including an orthopedic surgeon or a managed care organization you may see. You may make one change of a doctor from the list without your employer’s approval.
You may notice work-related injuries or even pain occurring much later after the initial work accident. Often a few days or weeks later, the injury surfaces, but without proper documentation, it will be difficult to seek compensation.
To protect yourself and ensure that you are healthy, you should have a physical examination immediately after your accident.
Medical treatment for a work injury in Georgia is limited to a maximum period of 400 weeks from the accident date, unless a catastrophic injury.
Document, Document, Document
When you visit the doctor, report what occurred. Identify all of the areas the body affected by your accident. Make sure you keep the contact information of any medical professionals who examine you, copies of their diagnosis, X-rays and scans, lab results, and your treatment plan.
You should not be responsible for any medical expenses if you are seen by your employer’s approved medical resource. If the doctor determines that you have a temporary or permanent disability, you may be entitled to additional benefits.
To protect your rights make sure you describe all that occurred to the medical professional who examines you. You may also want to make note of any workplace rules or take photos of the place where you had the accident.
Sometimes, injuries occur through no fault of your own. If your employer fails to ensure that the working environment is clean, safe and appropriate to work in, or fails to adhere to basic levels of care you may be entitled to both work injury compensation benefits and a lawsuit.
When You Need an Attorney
After your accident, your employer files a WC-1 with their insurance company and the insurance company will make a benefits determination. You will file a Form WC-14 with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation to claim work injury compensation benefits.
If you dispute the level of benefits that are paid, you may request a hearing. In general, your hearing will be within 60 days in a courtroom near where the injury happened. Your employer and your employer’s insurance company interests will be represented by an attorney.
It is in your best interest to be represented by an attorney who knows how Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws protect you and your job during this process. Retaliation is all too common, even though it is against the law.
An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer is skilled in gathering evidence and testimonies to prove your work injury compensation case to a judge. You are entitled to represent yourself, but why would you?
Bringing It All Together
If you are injured on the job in Georgia, your work injury compensation depends on timely, complete and knowledgeable representation. Any missteps can reduce or eliminate coverage. A good attorney specializing in workers compensation can help you make a successful work injury compensation claim.
Questions about the process or timeline? Please contact us today.