Workers’ Compensation

Workers' Compensation

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If you have been injured at work, Georgia law provides specific benefits that you may be entitled to.  Common workplace injuries that we handle include:

  • Traumatic Brain Injuries
  • Catastrophic Injuries (amputations, blindness)
  • Neck and Back Injuries
  • Fatalities
  • Shoulder Injuries
  • Hip Injuries
  • Knee Injuries
  • Carpel Tunnel
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

What is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is an employer-based insurance system required by law among Georgia employers who maintain three or more employees. Workers’ compensation is different than other types of injury claims because you do not have to prove fault in order to obtain benefits. The system was designed as a “no fault” insurance system, so that if you are injured while working for your employer and report the injury within 30 days, you should qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. In fact, you may be entitled to benefits even if your injuries were due to your own negligence or mistake.

Nevertheless, employers and insurance companies often find reasons to deny or delegitimize a valid worker’s compensation claim and do not provide legally required information to employees about their rights under the law. There are many nuances in workers’ compensation law that the average practitioner of law may be unfamiliar with. There are many specific rules involved in workers’ compensation. Therefore, you need an attorney who can guide you through the workers’ compensation system in a fashion that helps you get better sooner and without risking your legal rights.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Georgia law provides for 2 types of workers’ compensation benefits – medical treatment and income benefits.

Medical Benefits:

If you are injured on the job, your employer has an obligation to provide any and all medical treatment that is reasonably required in order for you to return to your pre-injury condition. This includes physical and occupational rehabilitation. Every employer is required to post in a clear place a specific Panel of Physicians that includes six doctors from whom you have a right to choose treatment with. If your employer does not follow this rule, or does not explain to you the purpose and function of a Panel of Physicians, Georgia law allows you to select any doctor you want (not on the list) to become your workers’ compensation authorized treating physician. The most important part of your workers’ compensation case is your medical care and your authorized treating physician. Whatever recommendations your authorized treating physician provides must be paid for by the workers’ compensation insurer. Thus, your treating physician has a profound impact on your likelihood for a speedy recovery and the overall value of your case. If your accident occurred on or after July 1, 2013, medical treatment is limited to a maximum period of 400 weeks from the accident date, unless your injury is catastrophic in nature in which case you may be entitled to lifetime medical benefits.

Income Benefits:

If you are unable to work for more than 7 consecutive days following a workplace injury, you are entitled to weekly income benefits in an amount equal to two-thirds of your average weekly pay. Your first check should be mailed to you within 21 days after the first day you missed work. If you miss more than 21 consecutive days, you are owed benefits for the first week, as well. Your weekly check continues as long as you unable to work due to your injury, or if your doctor places you on work restrictions that your employer cannot accommodate. Income benefits are also limited to 400 weeks unless your injury is catastrophic in nature in which case you are entitled to lifetime benefits. In certain circumstances, your employer can unilaterally reduce your weekly benefit amount after you have been released to return to work with limitations or restrictions for a certain period of time. Your employer may also completely suspend your benefits if your authorized treating physician releases you to work with no limitations or restrictions.

In addition to a weekly check, another form of income benefits is provided for any permanent disability resulting from a workers’ compensation injury. Once your recovery plateaus, you will receive an additional weekly benefit amount that is based specifically on the type and extent of any permanent disability rating as determined by your authorized treating physician.

In the event of a workplace death, dependents (surviving spouse, children, dependent stepchildren) may receive two-thirds of your average weekly pay, or a maximum of $575.00 per week. A widowed spouse with no children is limited by Georgia law to a total amount of $230,000.00, unless he or she remarries or cohabitates in a meretricious relationship.

If you have questions about an on the job injury or death, call (770) 271-2991 for a free consultation about your case.