Anyone can be injured on the job, even if they follow safety guidelines. While some on-the-job injuries are minor, others are much more serious. A workplace injury could even leave you with a permanent disability.
If you’ve suffered an injury on the job, you’re entitled to receive certain benefits through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. While insurance companies often fight valid claims or offer workers less than they’re entitled to, our North Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyers will assess your claim and make sure that you receive all of the compensation you are owed.
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What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that ensures employees that suffer work-related injuries receive both medical and wage benefits. In Georgia, any business with three or more employees is required to have workers’ compensation coverage.
Workers that suffer qualifying injuries are entitled to receive compensation for:
- Medical treatment, including hospital stays
- Physical therapy
- Travel expenses related to the injury
- Partial compensation for lost wages
If a worker is not able to return to their line of work because of an injury, they may also be entitled to receive additional benefits like vocational rehabilitation. Workers are eligible to receive temporary wage benefits for a maximum of 400 weeks. If a worker is permanently impaired because of an injury, they may also be eligible for permanent disability benefits.
While workers’ compensation insurance is mandated throughout the United States, every state has its own laws governing workers’ comp. That’s why it’s essential that you work with an experienced attorney that specializes in Georgia workers’ compensation law. You’ll have a better outcome if you work with a knowledgeable attorney that will fight for your rights.
What Should I Do If I’m Hurt on the Job?
If you’re injured at work, you should inform your employer as soon as possible. Under Georgia law, your employer must be notified of your injury within 30 days, but you’ll have a stronger case if you report your injury sooner than that. At most workplaces, your injury should be reported to your direct supervisor.
You should also seek medical attention as soon as possible. Not only is this a way for you to get treatment, but it’s also a chance for you to document your injury. Carefully follow all of the instructions your doctor gives you and make sure that you attend all scheduled appointments.
Start keeping a record of both your injury and your symptoms. This record should be as detailed as possible. If your injury is visible, you should photograph it from different angles. You may also want to take additional photographs as your injury begins to heal. The more evidence you have to support your claim, the better.
While you’re resting and recuperating, you should also contact a workers’ compensation attorney so that you can file a claim. Your attorney will be able to secure evidence proving that your injury was caused by your work, can assist you with paperwork and negotiations, and can ensure that you receive all of the benefits you’re entitled to.
What Are the Most Common Workplace Accident Injuries?
Workplace injuries are surprisingly common. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are approximately 2.8 reported illnesses or injuries per 100 workers. While anyone can be injured on the job, and while there are many types of work-related injuries, some of the most common injuries include:
- Joint pain
- Neck injuries
- Back injuries
- Hearing loss
- Slip and fall accidents
- Construction accidents
- Accidents while traveling for business
- Accidents while working with machinery or tools.
If you’ve been injured at work, or if you have constant pain because of your job, you should contact a North Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible. Contact our law firm at 678-635-9939 today to schedule a free consultation so that you can see what your options are.
Why Should I Hire a North Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
If you’ve suffered a minor injury that hasn’t caused you to miss work, and if your employer admits that the injury occurred on the job, you may not need assistance from an attorney. In most cases, however, having the guidance and support of a lawyer will make this difficult process easier for you.
It’s not unusual for insurance companies to deny valid workers’ compensation claims. If you have a pre-existing condition, insurers may try to use that against you so that they can avoid paying out the benefits you’re owed. With an attorney on your side, you’ll have recourse if your claim is wrongfully denied, and it’s far less likely that your claim will be denied in the first place.
Hiring an attorney will also help you to receive the appropriate benefits. If your benefits are calculated incorrectly, you may not receive enough money to cover your lost wages and medical benefits. A lawyer can determine what you are owed and will make sure you get all of the money you’re entitled to.
It’s common for insurance companies to pressure injured workers to accept a settlement that’s far less than the value of your claim. When you have an attorney, you can leave all paperwork and negotiations to them. While your lawyer works with the insurance company, you can focus on your recovery.
Even though workers’ compensation insurance exists to protect workers, it isn’t always easy for injured workers to collect benefits. Denials, disputes, delays, and other problems can make it difficult for workers to resolve a claim. Working with an attorney will help you resolve things quickly and favorably. Remember, your employer’s insurance company has lawyers working for them. You’ll want to have a lawyer on your side too.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Workers’ Comp Attorney?
You may think you can’t afford to hire a lawyer after your injury, especially if you’ve missed work. Thankfully, you won’t have to pay anything upfront to hire an attorney. Workers’ compensation attorneys work on contingency, which means they’ll agree to accept a percentage of the benefits that they collect for you.
In accordance with Georgia law, the contingent fee arrangement must be specified in advance. Typically, a lawyer will take anywhere between 15% and 45% of the recovery. The contingency fee does not recover costs related to your case, such as money spent on expert witnesses.
Contingency fees are beneficial for both attorneys and clients. Because the attorney’s payment will be determined by the value of the recovery, the lawyer will be motivated to secure as much as possible for their client. If the attorney is unsuccessful, the client will only be responsible for costs directly associated with their case. Contingent arrangements also mean lawyers are unlikely to take on a case unless they believe they have a high chance of success.
What Should I Do If My Workers Compensation Claim is Denied?
If your workers’ compensation claim is denied, you’re entitled to receive an explanation for the denial. You also have the right to appeal the decision. With that said, your appeal is unlikely to be successful without the assistance of an attorney.
Your lawyer can request that your case be heard by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. Both your attorney and your employer’s insurer will be able to present evidence to an Administrative Law Judge. The judge will determine if you are entitled to benefits.
It’s best to hire a lawyer and appeal your denial as soon as possible. Georgia law states that an appeal must be filed within one year of the date of the accident or discovery of the illness or injury. Your attorney can complete the required WC-14 form and submit it to the State Board of Workers’ Compensation before the clock runs out.
What Responsibility Does the Employee Have in Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim?
While Georgia law ensures that all employees have coverage for work injuries, employees must meet certain responsibilities to qualify for benefits. An injured worker must:
- Follow the employer’s written safety practices
- Report the injury to the employer within 30 days
- Demonstrate that the injury was not caused by willful negligence on the part of the employee
- Submit to a drug test after a workplace accident if requested
- Accept medical care and comply with all reasonable treatments
- Ensure that all information submitted when claiming benefits is fully accurate
- Inform the employer of a change in address or change in name
- Attempt any work that is approved by the physician providing treatment, even if the work pays less than the employee’s previous position
- Submit requests for travel expense reimbursement within a year of the date on which the expense was incurred
- File a claim for permanent benefits with two years of the last weekly benefit payment or within one year of your last authorized medical treatment
Failure to meet these responsibilities could cause your claim to be denied. By contacting an attorney early in the process, you can make sure that you are fully aware of your responsibilities and that you do everything that you need to do in order to obtain benefits.
What Responsibility Does the Employer Have in the Workers’ Compensation Process?
Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Act states that all employers with three or more employees must carry workers’ compensation coverage. It’s the responsibility of the employer to swiftly provide medical and disability benefits to employees that were injured on the job.
After an employer has been notified of a work-related injury, they must complete and submit a WC-1 First Report of Injury within 10 days. If an injury has kept an employee from returning to work for seven days, the employer must also submit a WC-6 Wage Statement so that the employee’s wage benefits can be calculated accurately.
The employer must also make sure that the employee is able to receive medical care for their injuries. The employer should direct the employee to an approved healthcare provider. Failure to meet these responsibilities could open up the employer to litigation.
Can I Be Fired for Claiming a Workers’ Comp Claim?
Many injured workers avoid reporting injuries or filing a claim because of concerns that it will lead to their termination. It’s important to know that your employer cannot fire you because you claimed workers’ compensation. Even though Georgia is an at-will employment state, retaliatory discharge is prohibited under federal law.
If your employer does fire you after you file a claim, you are still entitled to receive any benefits you are qualified for. You should contact an attorney right away to make sure that your rights are fully protected. In addition to assisting you with your benefits, your lawyer may also be able to help you prove retaliatory discharge.
Is There a Time Limit to File a Workers’ Comp Claim in Georgia?
In order for an injury to be eligible for benefits, it must be reported within 30 days. The statute of limitations on workers’ compensation claims in Georgia is one year from the date of the injury or one year from the date the injury or illness was discovered.
According to section 34-9-82(a) of the Official Code of Georgia, employees that fail to meet these deadlines may forfeit their right to compensation. While there are cases in which this timeline may be extended, it’s best to contact a lawyer and file a claim right away. Acting quickly is the best way to protect your benefits and your rights.
Can I Sue My Employer?
Workers’ compensation insurance protected employees, but it protects employers as well. If you accept workers’ compensation, you are forfeiting your right to file a lawsuit. That makes it all the more important for you to hire a lawyer. Before you accept compensation, you’ll want to make sure that your employer is making you a fair offer.
While you won’t be able to sue your employer for your workplace injury, it may be possible for you to sue a third party. When you consult with an attorney, they’ll be able to assess your case and tell you if you have grounds to sue.
Can an Independent Contractor File a Workers’ Comp Claim?
Workers’ compensation only covers employees, which means that independent contractors are not eligible for benefits in most cases. An exception to this is if an independent contractor is misclassified and is actually an employee under Georgia law.
Georgia’s laws governing independent contractors are complicated. The Georgia Court of Appeals’ decision in Golash v. Cherokee Cab Co. found that a worker qualifies as an employee if the employer has the right to control and direct their work. Even if you are an independent contractor, it’s worthwhile to consult with an attorney to see if you could be entitled to benefits.
What Is My Workers’ Compensation Claim Worth?
The total value of your workers’ compensation claim will vary based on many different factors, including the severity of your injury and the wages you were earning before your injury. You can expect workers’ compensation to cover:
If your injury keeps you out of work for more than seven days, you will be eligible to receive benefits for two-thirds of your average wages. Benefits are capped at $575 per week.
If you are able to return to work, but you are earning less than you previously did because of your injury, you can receive benefits that help to cover the difference. You are entitled to receive two-thirds of the difference between your previous wages and your current wages. Benefits are capped at $450 per week.
All medical expenses will be covered, but you may be required to see a physician that has been authorized by your employer.
If you have to travel to receive treatment for your injuries, you are entitled to be reimbursed for any expenses that you incur. You must submit these expenses to your employer in order to receive compensation.
Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)
If you are permanently disabled because of your injury, you are entitled to receive additional benefits. Georgia law requires treating physicians to use American Medical Association Guidelines to assign a patient a permanent partial disability rating to specific parts of the body. That rating will be used to calculate the total benefits that are owed.
In some cases, injured employees may want to seek a settlement from the employer’s insurance company to ensure that their future needs are met. Your lawyer will be able to advise you on the best course of action.
Contact Our North Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Today
Workplace injuries can have serious consequences. Not only can these injuries lead to medical bills, but they can keep an employee from their job. In some cases, an injury could have a permanent impact on a worker’s earning capacity.
That’s why you need a workers’ compensation expert on your side. Our attorneys at 1Georgia Injury Lawyers can assess your claim and will fight to ensure that you are properly compensated. Call us today at 678-635-9939 so that you can schedule a free case assessment.